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Friday, September 23, 2005

Learning To Improvise

As with jazz musicians, only the very talented ones can issue spontaneous solos that challenge and satisfy. Untalented musicians' jams sound just like noise. But Miles Davis can carry you places because of his virtuosity.

Economist Arnold Kling at TCS finds the blamers (and supporters) in the Katrina disaster begin with a false premise:

Critics of the response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans tend to focus on the need to formulate and implement better plans. I suspect that a more sober assessment might instead identify poor improvisation as the main problem...I think that people have a tendency to put too much faith in centralized planning, and they do not have sufficient regard for decentralized improvisation. The more ambiguity that exists in a situation--because of its novelty, uncertainty, and the absence of critical information--the more that it favors improvisation over planning.

He believes that the successful responders did not wait for a bureaucracy to come to the rescue but reacted immediately to the needs as they arose. That is the essense of the free market and why we have seen better responses by private initiative than the government during this emergency.

Dependency does not prepare an "improvisational" mind to deal with the unexpected.

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