The following is a guest post by Dr. Robert Owens.
Why Central-Planning Won’t Work
Failure to plan is planning to fail. This truism has been a guiding light in my life and in the lives of countless others. Without planning we would never accomplish much in life. The haphazard serendipity of chance rarely adds up to a consistently positive result. We all know people who seem like they can fall into a sewer and come up smelling like roses. Most of us come up smelling like something quite different if we take the same fall.
On an individual basis planning is absolutely critical. For society some things also need planning such as coining money, defending the nation, and delivering the mail. All of these require planning and for all of these things it is possible to plan realistically and effectively.
There is no argument between the citizen supporters of constitutionally limited government and our perpetually re-elected Progressive collectivists and the fellow-travelers who support them about this. Some planning is both necessary and good. However, this is where we part company. Those who believe in a constitutionally limited government do not believe that it is possible or advisable to try to run an economy and a society through central planning.
The very attempt to use central planning short circuits the myriad of personal decisions which make up the routine functions of a free economy and that is the bedrock of a free society. Every group that advocates central planning, no matter what they call themselves are Utopians who believe that they can do a better job making decisions for everyone than everyone can make for themselves. That is the essence of the Nanny-state: government knows better and must protect us from our own bad choices.
There is one common feature that is clearly a part of all the various collectivist systems no matter what they call themselves. They all call for the deliberate organization of society to accomplish identifiable social goals. That a free society lacks this focus and its activities are guided by the personal whims and feelings of individuals all seeking their own good is always the complaint of the Utopians.
This brings the basic difference between the collectivists and the advocates of personal liberty into stark relief. The different types of collectivists: Socialists, Communists, Fascists, and Progressives may differ as to the specific societal goals towards which they want to drive their populations, and they may differ in their methods depending upon the amount of control they exert over the choices of others. However much they differ from each other they all uniformly differ from the advocates of individual freedom in that they wish to regiment all of society and all its resources to achieve whichever set of goals their particular brand of collectivism sees as the pathway to Nirvana.
Whatever the social goal is whether it’s called the great leap forward, a worker’s paradise, a classless society, the common good, the general welfare, or the Great Society it doesn’t take much reflection to see that these terms are so vague it’s impossible to determine their exact meaning so that any specific course of action could be decided upon. It’s like a war on terror, or drugs, or obesity how are you supposed to know when the goal has been reached or victory achieved?
The welfare and happiness of people cannot be measured on a scale of more or less. There are too many variables. There are too many possible combinations of circumstances that can become either negatives or positives depending upon another set of widely diverse situations. The “good” of any society cannot be expressed as simply or succinctly as the collectivists pretend. It is just too complex.
To direct all of society’s energy and resource by one plan assumes that every need and desire is given a rank in order of importance and a place in order of time. It also assumes that an absolute lineal order of occurrences must proceed from every action. If this happens that will automatically occur. Besides asserting through action that it is possible to order all things as one desires it also inherently expresses the idea that there is one universal set of ethics by which good and bad are obviously seen by the planners. All of these assumptions, assertions and expressions are not only false they are obviously false. No one is as smart as everyone.
The very idea of having a universally accepted and complete code of ethics is beyond the scope of human experience. People are constantly choosing between different values as they go through their daily life. What is best today in this situation may not be best tomorrow in that situation. However, when all of society and all of its resources are to be harnessed and driven in one direction toward a preselected set of goals such a universal and complete set of ethics are not only a necessity they are a prerequisite for success. Since this is unattainable success is also unattainable. If this sounds harsh please view the tattered hulks and broken lives which litter the history of all Utopian collectivist societies.
Only God can plan the end from the beginning. Only God has an ultimate and a true ethical code that is universally applicable to all people in all situations. Only God has a right to order events to suit His purposes. He created all things, and all things exist because He holds them up. All things are His, and He has the ability and the right to do with them as He pleases.
The problem we face is that collectivism puts the state in the place of God. Collectivists believe that government, through its bureaucracy, can make decisions and take action that could only work if designed and carried out with the aid of omniscience and omnipotence neither of which qualities have ever or will ever belong to government.
A scientist once said to God, “You’re not so much. We have learned how to make life in our laboratories.”
God answered, “Is that so.”
The scientist proudly said, “Yes it is and I am willing to have a contest with you right now to see who can make life faster and better.”
“All right,” God said, “let’s go.” With that God stooped down and picked up some dirt and started molding it into a man as the scientist grabbed his test tubes and started pouring liquids from one to another.
Just as God was about to blow the breath of life into His creation, he looked at the scientist and said, “Hey! Get your own dirt.”
There is one thing I have learned in this life: God is God and I am not and neither is anyone or anything else. Sounds like a pretty basic lesson; however, it took me about half of my life to learn. If we could only get those entrusted with our government to learn the same thing maybe we would stop our slow slide into that long dark night.
Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion. He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2013 Robert R. Owens firstname.lastname@example.org Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens