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Drucker is a Moron

photoI saw this on a sign outside a conference room of a law firm in Houston where I was attending a CLE luncheon. Drucker needs some Hoppe. The future is uncertain, but not radically so.

See Hoppe, On Certainty and Uncertainty, Or: How Rational Can Our Expectations Be? As Hoppe notes,

“From the recognition of the fact that perfect foresight eliminates the very need of knowing and knowers, and that such a need only arises if, as in our world, foresight is less than perfect, and insofar as knowledge is a means of bringing about preferences, it does not follow that everything is uncertain. Quite to the contrary.”
“the idea of perfect or radical uncertainty (or ignorance) is either openly contradictory insofar as it is meant to say “everything about the future is uncertain except that there will be uncertainty-about this we are certain,” or it entails an implicit contradiction if it is meant to say everything is uncertain and that there is nothing but uncertainty, is uncertain, too.” (I do know such and such to be the case, and I do not know whether such and such is the case or not.) Only a middle-of-the-road position between the two extremes of perfect knowledge and perfect ignorance is consistently defensible: There exists uncertainty but this we know for certain. Hence, also certainty exists, and the boundary between certain and uncertain knowledge is certain (based on certain knowledge).”
On uncertainty:
“it cannot be ruled out categorically that we might be mistaken, and that the future will be so different from the past that all of our past knowledge will be entirely useless. It is possible that none of our instruments or machines will work anymore tomorrow, that our houses will collapse on top of us, that the earth will open up, and that all of us will perish. It is in this sense that our knowledge of the external physical world must be ultimately regarded as uncertain.”
On knowledge:
“Notwithstanding this ultimate uncertainty of our knowledge concerning the external world, however, as a result of contingent circumstances, the relative stability and regularity in the concatenation of external objects and events, it has been possible for mankind to accumulate a vast and expanding body of practically certain knowledge. This knowledge does not render the future predictable, but it helps us predict the effects to be produced by definite actions.”
On radical uncertainty:
“Much of our future is, practically speaking, perfectly certain. Every product, tool, instrument or machine represents a piece of practical certainty To claim, instead, that we are faced with radical uncertainty and that the future is to all of us unknowable is not  only self-contradictory but also appears to be a position devoid of common sense.”
“Little of this ever attracts the attention of theoreticians of radical uncertainty. The existence of a practical working technology and of a vast and flourishing insurance industry constitutes an embarrassment for any theory of radical uncertainty. If pressed sufficiently hard, of course, Lachmann and his followers would probably admit the undeniable and, as if all of this did not matter, quickly move onto another problem.”
“Can we really believe that each successive socialist experiment requires a different explanation, and that it is impossible to say anything applicable to each and every form of socialism, so that as long as there exists no private ownership of the means of production, and hence no factor prices, economic calculation (cost-accounting) will be impossible and permanent misallocation (waste) will have to result? Can we really believe that, as long as socialism is not actually abolished, this proposition may no longer hold true, because agents can learn from experience and may no longer act in an identical fashion? Can we really believe that if a central bank were to double the paper money supply overnight, this would not, now and forever, lead to a drop in the purchasing power of money as well as a systematic income redistribution in favor of the central bank and the early receivers of the newly-created money at the expense of those receiving it later or not at all? Can we really believe that if the minimum wage were fixed today at one million dollars per hour and if this decree were strictly enforced and no increase in the money supply were to take place, this measure might not lead to mass unemployment and a breakdown of the division of labor because people can learn from experience?”
“To use a perfect analogy while it is true that I am unable to predict eveything that I will say or write in the future, this does not imply that I cannot predict anything about my future speaking and writing. I can predict, and indeed I can predict with perfect certainty, and regardless of whether I will speak or write in English or German, that, as long as I will speak or write at all, in any language whatsoever, all of my speaking and writing will have a constant and invariable logical (propositional) structure: that I must use identifying expressions, such as proper names, and predicators to assert or deny some specific property of the identified or named object, for instance. In the same way it holds that even though I cannot predict what goals I may pursue in the future,  that means I will deem appropriate to reach these goals, and what other conceivable courses of action I will choose to reject in order to do what I will actually do (my opportunity cost), I can still predict that as long as I act at all , there will be goals, means, choices, and costs; that is, I can predict the general, logical structure of each and every one of my actions, whether past, present or future. And this is precisely what economic theory or, as Mises has termed it, praxeology, is all about: providing knowledge regarding actions as such and knowledge about the structure which any future knowledge and learning must have by virtue of the fact that it invariably must be the knowledge and learning of actors.”
“I may not be able to predict that I will engage in voluntary exchanges, when, what it is that will be exchanged, or the exchange ratio at which the goods or services in question will be traded, etc., because all of this may indeed be affected by my and others’ knowledge and change as this knowledge changes. But I can predict with perfect certitude that if a voluntary exchange takes place,regardless of where, when, what, and at what exchange ratio, both exchange partners must have had opposite preference orderings and must have expected to benefit from the exchange. No possible learning can ever change this. Likewise, I may not be able to predict that or when a socialist experiment will be undertaken or discontinued. Nor will I ever be able to predict such an experiment’s many specific features. All of this may be affected by learning. But regardless of whatever people may learn and how their learning may shape the peculiar shape of socialism, I can’still predict with absolute certainty that as long as one is in fact dealing with socialism, any and all economic calculation will be impossible and permanent misallocations of production factors must result because this consequence is already logically implied in what socialism is. Similarly, I may not be able to forecast that a money will actually come into existence, and it is certainly possible that mankind may one day revert back to barter. Nor can I predict with certainty what specific kind of money will be employed in the future. But I can predict with perfect certitude that if there is any money in use at all, an increase in its supply must lead to a reduction in its purchasing power below what it otherwise would have been. This follows simply from the definition of money as a medium of exchange.”

And here Hoppe writes:

The argument establishing the impossibility of causal predictions in the field of human knowledge and actions now might have left the impression that if this is so, then forecasting can be nothing but successful or unsuccessful guessing. This impression, however, would be just as wrong as it would be wrong to think that one can predict human action in
the same way as one can predict the growing stages of apples. It is here where the unique Misesian insight into the interplay of economic theory and history enters the picture. [36]

In fact, the reason why the social and economic future cannot be regarded as entirely and absolutely uncertain should not be too hard to understand: The impossibility of causal predictions in the field of action was proven by means of an a priori argument. And this argument incorporated a priori true knowledge about actions as such: that they cannot be conceived of as governed by time-invariantly operating causes. Thus, while economic forecasting will indeed always be a systematically unteachable art, it is at the same time true that all economic forecasts must be thought of as being constrained by the existence of a priori knowledge about actions as such. [37]

The quantity theory of money then cannot render any specific economic event, certain or probable, on the basis of a formula employing prediction constants. However, the theory would nonetheless restrict the range of possibly correct predictions. And it would do this not as an empirical theory, but rather as a praxeological theory, acting as a logical constraint on our prediction-making. [38] Predictions that are not in line with such knowledge (in our case: the quantity theory) are systematically flawed and making them leads to systematically increasing numbers of forecasting errors. This does not mean that someone who based his predictions on correct praxeological reasoning would necessarily have to be a better predictor of future economic events than someone who arrived at his predictions through logically flawed deliberations and chains of reasoning. It means that in the long run the praxeologically enlightened forecaster would average better than the unenlightened ones.

It is possible to make the wrong prediction in spite of the fact that one has correctly identified the event “increase in the money supply” and in spite of one’s praxeologically correct reasoning that such an event is by logical necessity connected with the event “drop in the purchasing power of money.” For one might go wrong predicting what will occur to the event “demand for money.” One may have predicted a constant demand for money, but the demand might actually increase. Thus the predicted inflation might not show up as expected. And on the other hand, it is equally possible that a person could make a correct forecast, i.e., there will be no drop in purchasing power, in spite of the fact that he was wrongly convinced that a rise in the quantity of money had nothing to do with money’s purchasing power.

…. However, and this brings me back to my point that praxeology logically constrains our predictions of economic events: What if we assume that all forecasters, including those with and without sound praxeological knowledge, are on the average equally well-equipped to anticipate other concurrent changes? What if they are on the average equally lucky guessers of the social and economic future? Evidently, we must conclude then that forecasters making predictions in recognition of and in accordance with praxeological laws like the quantity theory of money will be more successful than that group of forecasters which is ignorant of praxeology.

It is impossible to build a prediction formula which employs the assumption of time-invariantly operating causes that would enable us to scientifically forecast changes in the demand for money. The demand for money is necessarily dependent on people’s future states of knowledge, and future knowledge is unpredictable. And thus praxeological knowledge has very limited predictive utility. [39]

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