We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

The very nature of central planning

Jeffrey Tucker has written a superb article about conservative statist central planning, but one paragraph stands out for me:

Central planning has several universal features. It is coercive. It bypasses the needs of the consumers for the sake of politics. It relies on edicts which may or may not reflect reality. It does not take advantage of the price system, profit, or loss. It is impervious to change. It ignores local conditions. It does not permit flexibility according to circumstance. It robs those who know the most of the ability of make decisions and innovate. It creates incentives to obey the plan but diverts attention from the real goal, whatever it may be (and it may be the wrong goal). It ends up over utilizing material resources, underutilizing human ones, and not generating the intended results.

What could I possibly add to that?

5 comments to The very nature of central planning

  • Paul Marks

    The context here was that Dr Tucker was dealing with a study from the University of Arizonia that showed an inverse relationship between a rise in the new test scores and performance in SAT tests.

    In short as children were put through endless rote learning to get them throught the new “high powered tests” so teaching children general problem solving skills (“how to think”) went out of the window.

    Dr Tucker was using this study (which was undertaken by statists – not libertarians) to show that the conservative reform plan for government schools (lots of factual tests on core subjects and teaching geared to pass the tests) was having unintended consequences.

    Another problem was the practice of High Schools encouraging children they thought would fail the tests to drop out – so that the school test average would be higher (and it would get more money under the “market socialist” incentives that the conservatives believed in).

    It was much like the old Soviet practice when they wished to reduce the death rate in the hospitals – kick out the people who are going to die.

    Dr Tucker’s basic point was that a government school system will not work – whether it is the hands of liberals or conservatives.

  • Joe Kaplinsky

    “It ends up over utilizing material resources, underutilizing human ones…”

    What is the meaning of this? Tucker doesn’t give any example. But I figure substitution of material resources for people as a measure of progress. (Of course, you have to measure across the economy as a whole.)

    A green would say otherwise, that nature must be respected or valued in itself, so that people have to work longer and harder (and die sooner as a result) in order not to “over utilise” material resources. Sometimes they speak of conserving resources for future generations. Is this what Tucker means?

  • Joe: I think he means inefficient use of material resources and human ones… i.e. a few people throwing tax money at problems rather than many private owners of capital with more information at their disposal (collectively) that central planners ever could have.

  • Several more reasons why, as a basic matter, socialism sucks.

  • Walter E. Wallis

    The job of the planner is endless since most of his time is spent trying to clean up the mistakes of earlier planners.