A U.S. Department of the Future Is a Really Bad Idea: New at Reason

Shooting down Kurt Vonnegut's proposal for a Secretary of the Future



"I'll tell you…one thing that no Cabinet has ever had is a Secretary of the Future, and there are no plans at all for my grandchildren and my great grandchildren," the novelist Kurt Vonnegut groused in 2005. Vonnegut's comment came up on the public radio show Marketplace this month, when the program asked, "What if we had a Secretary of the Future?" My quick answer: It's a really stupid idea. Human beings are terrible at foresight, and it would be especially terrible to try marry our purblind premonitions to government power. Reviewing the history of wannabe Secretaries of the Future shows that federal government bureaucrats trying to exercise foresight have recommended and made terrible policy decisions. Given ineluctable human fallibility, the best thing we can do is to let our children and grandchildren make their own plans for the future.