Spontaneous Order: No Traffic Lights Vs. Traffic Lights
Via Mark Perry, below is a video of the same intersection at the same time of day on two different dates. On one date the intersection was unregulated because the traffic lights were down due to a power outage. On the other date the traffic lights were operating normally.
Here’s another video showing the same thing, this time in Arlington, VA, during an east coast power outage.
What do these videos prove? The ability of our society to spontaneously create order. A big mistake often made in the area of public policy is the assumption that without regulation for every square inch of our lives we would have no order or efficiency. The truth is that free people making free decisions in their own best interest will create a spontaneous sort of order.
I’m not advocating against all traffic regulation – I’d like to see the data for traffic accidents if these intersections were left unregulated long term – but only pointing out that we, as a society, would do better to put a little more trust in the ability of individuals to make their own decisions.
“[I]n the social field the erroneous belief that the exercise of some power would have beneficial consequences is likely to lead to a new power to coerce other men being conferred on some authority,” wrote Frederich Hayek in http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001QP9SCE/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=sayanything-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B001QP9SCEThe Pretense of Knowledge. “Even if such power is not in itself bad, its exercise is likely to impede the functioning of those spontaneous ordering forces by which, without understanding them, man is in fact so largely assisted in the pursuit of his aims.”Tags: frederich hayek, free markets, spontaneous order