Posted tagged ‘Central Planning vs Free Markets’

Lessons From The First Thanksgiving

November 23, 2016

Hand drawn Thanksgiving vintage card. Maple and oak leaves, branches and berries, pumpkin, indian corn, lettering

Richard Ebeling’s Thanksgiving article titled: Thanksgiving Was A Triumph Of Capitalism Over Collectivism, tells the real lesson of the first thanksgiving. The basic idea of government central planning whether it is called collectivism, socialism, communism, et al,  has been around forever. The evidence that collectivism doesn’t produce results that match the rhetoric has also been around forever. But somehow the lure of collectivist ideology still remains strong in spite of the evidence.

Here are some excerpts from the article.

“The English Puritans, who left Great Britain and sailed across the Atlantic on the Mayflower in 1620,……. wanted to erect a New Jerusalem that would not only be religiously devout, but be built on a new foundation of communal sharing and social altruism. Their goal was the communism of Plato’s Republic, in which all would work and share in common, knowing neither private property nor self-interested acquisitiveness……..Two years of communism in practice had left alive only a fraction of the original number of the Plymouth colonists.”

“What resulted is recorded in the journal of Governor William Bradford, the head of the colony. The colonists collectively cleared and worked land, but they brought forth neither the bountiful harvest they hoped for, nor did it create a spirit of shared and cheerful brotherhood
.”

“The less industrious members of the colony came late to their work in the fields, and were slow and easy in their labors. Knowing that they and their families were to receive an equal share of whatever the group produced, they saw little reason to be more diligent their efforts. The harder working among the colonists became resentful that their efforts would be redistributed to the more malingering members of the colony. Soon they, too, were coming late to work and were less energetic in the fields.

“Because of the disincentives and resentments that spread among the population, crops were sparse and the rationed equal shares from the collective harvest were not enough to ward off starvation and death.

Realizing that another season like those that had just passed would mean the extinction of the entire community, the elders of the colony decided to try something radically different: the introduction of private property rights and the right of the individual families to keep the fruits of their own labor.

The Plymouth Colony experienced a great bounty of food. Private ownership meant that there was now a close link between work and reward……..When the harvest time came, not only did many families produce enough for their own needs, but they had surpluses that they could freely exchange with their neighbors for mutual benefit and improvement.”

“Hard experience had taught the Plymouth colonists the fallacy and error in the ideas of that since the time of the ancient Greeks had promised paradise through collectivism rather than individualism.”

Was this realization that communism was incompatible with human nature and the prosperity of humanity to be despaired or be a cause for guilt? Not in Governor Bradford’s eyes. It was simply a matter of accepting that altruism and collectivism were inconsistent with the nature of man, and that human institutions should reflect the reality of man’s nature if he is to prosper.

If these sparsely populated settlements couldn’t make socialism work, how could our present day leaders think that trying to implement socialist policies (like Obamacare), incrementally to a population of 330 million possibly work? Politicians and bureaucrats are heavily invested in the ideology of centrally planning an economy. They will never give up this vision of how the world works, even though the lessons of history are their for all to see.

 

Related ArticleThe Real Thanksgiving Story, at austrianaddict.com.

Related ArticleThanksgiving Proclamations, at austrianaddict.com.

What I wrote last year seems even more appropriate this year.

Even though it seems we are in conflict about everything. Each of us should be thankful that we live in a country that protects our right to complain. We should be thankful our founding principles have led to the creation of a standard of living that other countries could only dream of.”

“We take our individual freedom and our countries wealth for granted, even though they are rare indeed when compared to other countries throughout the history of the world. Be Thankful!”

People Want A President Who Will ‘Get Something Done’

March 15, 2016

I hear a recurring theme from people when asked who they want as their next President? The answer goes something like this; I want someone who will ‘get something done’, or I want someone who will ‘fix things’, or I want someone to ‘run the country’. What do people mean when they say these things? More importantly what is implied by these statements?

People who make these statements are implying that government is the place where problems get solved. They seem to think everything emanates from government. This is 180 degrees from the principles on which our country was founded where individuals solved their problems and government stayed out of their way.

GET SOMETHING DONE?

If ‘getting something done’ is the standard for rating the success of an administration, than every President has been a success. The Federal Government has been growing at an ever-increasing speed over the last century and especially over the last fifty years. This couldn’t have happened unless presidents and politicians were ‘getting something done’. So from the stand point of growing the size and power of  Government, politicians have been ‘getting something done’ for quite some time. Unfortunately this ‘something’ that has been ‘getting done’ is destructive to the principles and institutions on which our country was founded, such as individual liberty, the rule of law, property rights, and a free market economy.

Everybody has their own idea of what ‘getting something done’ means. For me ‘getting something done’ would be cutting government in half and probably more. Of course the only person who agrees with what I ‘want to get done’ is me, and I’m not running for President.

When we say we want someone who will ‘get something done’ we are implying that ‘solutions’ to perceived problems can only come from government central planners. Even so-called conservatives, who are supposed to be for smaller government and greater individual liberty, seem to think that ‘solutions’ to ‘problems’ can be found if the right people are put in power. The world is so big, people seem to think that the complex order that exists in society can only be brought about and operated by top down planning from politicians and bureaucrats. People have no understanding that complex order can happen spontaneously when individuals are allowed to voluntary cooperate in free markets. Government central planners, can’t bring the amount of knowledge to bear on any situation as the total amount of knowledge that individuals acting in a free markets can bring. Thomas Sowell has said, “People who are very aware that they have more knowledge then the average person are often very unaware that they do not have one tenth of the knowledge of all the average persons put together. In this situation, for the intelligentsia to impose their notions on ordinary people is essentially to impose ignorance on knowledge.” Does this sound like our present day political and bureaucratic class? Now add their thirst to rule over the masses, and you have a dangerous situation for individual liberty.

Politicians have been talking about change for decades. My goodness President Obama was elected on Hope and Change. Unfortunately when you run on something as ill-defined as change, each voter ascribes his idea of change to the candidate. By using the vague phrases like Obama’s ‘hope and change’ or Trump’s ‘America’s going to win again’, the politician holds up a mirror in front of himself, allowing the voter to see his perfect candidate, himself. It’s a verbal sleight of hand trick that fools many in the audience.

SOLUTIONS? TRADE OFFS? OR TOLERABLE BESTS?

What needs to be fixed? Is there a solution, a trade-off, or just a tolerable best?  Where does the best possible outcome lie; top down decision-making by central planners in government, or individual decision-making in a free market?

Top down decrees can’t solve problems for two very important reasons. 1) There are no solutions to most ‘problems’ there are only trade offs. and 2) Top down decision makers don’t have access to the amount of knowledge that millions of individuals bring to bear as they make decisions about the trade offs they face everyday.

If government intervention caused a problem in the first place, the problem can’t be fixed by implementing another government solution. Many of the original ‘problems’ that Government tried to solve are not problems at all, they are the inescapable realities of the imperfect world in which we live. When it comes to these ‘tragedies of the human condition’ there are no solutions or good answers, only bad or worse choices (a tolerable best).

What would constitute a solution? Is the solution an end result, or is the real solution the process for making trade offs between tolerable bests? Because of subjective value, scarcity, and the passage of time there can’t be end results. The solution lies in the process of allowing individuals to freely produce, consume, exchange, and save whatever they want.

THE ROAD TO SERFDOM

When thinking about the possibility of solutions, trade offs, and tolerable bests, ask yourself, who should have the power to make a particular decision, you, or a government central planner? In  The Road To Serfdom  F.A. Hayek said, “Few are ready to recognize that the rise of fascism and nazism was not a reaction against the socialist trends of the preceding period but a necessary outcome of those tendencies. This is a truth which most people were unwilling to see even when the similarities of many of the repellent features of the internal regimes in Communist Russia and National Socialist Germany were widely recognized. As a result, many who think themselves infinitely superior to the aberrations of the nazism, and sincerely hate all its manifestations, work at the same time for ideals whose realization would lead straight to the abhorred tyranny.”….. “Hitler did not have to destroy democracy; he merely took advantage of the decay of democracy and at the critical moment obtained the support of many to whom, though they detested Hitler, he yet seemed the only man strong enough to ‘get things done.”

The growing power of the executive branch over the last two administrations is what should give us pause. We probably don’t have to worry too much if a Republican is elected President in 2016, because the Democrats and the media will push back hard against everything he would try to get done. The only reason President Obama has gotten away with ‘getting something done’ is because the Republicans were too afraid of being called racist to push back, and the media was cheerleading the Presidents usurpations of power.

How far down the road to serfdom are we? How many exits remain before there is no turning back?

I know, I know: IT CAN’T HAPPEN HERE!

Related ArticleMilton Friedman: Moving Toward Serfdom, at austrianaddict.com.

Related Article – Spontaneous Order Utilizes More Knowledge Than Central Planning Could Ever Hope To Utilize, at austrianaddict.com.

Related ArticleIs America Still On F.A. Hayek’s “Road To Serfdom“, by Richard Ebeling, at fee.org.