The Core Fallacy of Central Planning

The fundamental fallacious assumption that all central planners make in the course of their divine intervention into our personal affairs is not that they are smarter than the average person or even that they are the smartest person alive.  Rather it is that they are smarter than all of us put together.  

Was bailing out GM a good idea?  Well maybe, maybe not, but "we" had ample opportunity to make investments in the company on our own through the stock market.  Perhaps investors chose not to do so for a reason - it wasn't a sound investment.  Instead, the geniuses in the federal government decided that they were smarter than the whole of the people and that they would force us to "invest" in GM's future.  

Should we invest in new forms of energy?  On an individual level investing in particular energy concerns may pay off handsomely and help the future of mankind immensely.  Unfortunately when the central planners decide where to spend our money, they do so based on  much less information and insight than our pooled individual efforts, and they base their decisions in whole or in part on political merits.  They may occasionally back into a good idea that pays off, but their historical record is pretty awful - think Soviet Union.  The fact is "we" shouldn't be investing in anything.  The government has no right or authority to plunder our savings to fund their pet projects.  What's worse they will never have the information or the skills to succeed at it, regardless of who is in office.  

A committee is the only known form of life with a hundred bellies and no brain. -- Robert Heinlein

Beyond-Presidents Day

It seems that the natural progression towards enlightenment is from more government to less.  Unfortunately, this is not the natural progression of history.  All progress is not forward.  As children become adults, they learn to become less dependent on their parents.  In my opinion, the most significant breakthrough in this process is understanding that you really don't need your parents' help any more.  This point often comes after it has been true for quite a while.  Likewise, as a society matures the people within it begin to understand that they require less and less help from their parental "public servants."  Maybe someday we will have the ability and the widespread understanding required to live without them entirely, but I won't hold my breath.  We need baby steps, and I propose that we start by getting beyond "Presidents Day".

The office of the presidency is too powerful as it is.  We don't need any further excuses for the average citizen to sit in mindless and uncritical awe of its present and former holders.  They have been programmed for a lifetime to accept the primacy of "the leader of the free world."  Think back to grade school.  Were you taught anything substantive about decentralization of power, the philosophical underpinnings of the revolution, the debates between the founders, the Articles of Confederation, the history of the central banks, or the various political and economic factors that culminated in the war between the States?  If you were like me, you weren't taught any of that.  Instead, you were forced to memorize the names of all the past presidents in order - rote memorization in its most banal form.  Instead of learning fascinating and critical information our minds were turned off by tedium, and every year we celebrate with ritual.

I hereby propose that from now on we celebrate the third Monday in February as "Beyond-Presidents Day."

Append "By Force"

I am usually more for breaking laws than making them, but I just had one of those there-ought-to-be-a-law moments that I imagine liberals and conservative have daily.  My law would be that every time someone who is either running for or executing some government office speaks to the public and gives a plan for how they are going to "help" us, they must append the words "by force" to their statement.

Example:  We're going to invest in Green Energy - by force.  We're going to provide health insurance to every American citizen - by force.

This may seem cumbersome, but in my opinion it is the best way to ensure that the motives and methods of the government remain in clear view of the general populous.  Just imagine how poorly FDR's Second Bill of Rights would have been received if this law was in place.  Hell, the State of the Union Address might even be bearable were this law in effect.

I think most people apply the old adage about sausage to government - it's best not to think about how it is made.  But, if we are to be consistent moral agents, we must not ignore the dirty side of governance lest we give our sanction to the imposition of force on others.  What made the Solyndra scandal so egregious was not that the president and his cronies picked a loser, it was the fact that they took money from the taxpayers - by force - and propped up a pet company in a politically sexy business.

Call your congressmen; let's make it happen!

Lessons from the Eugenics Movement

I cannot give an expert opinion on whether or not anthropogenic climate change is going to be a problem or whether government policies to stop it are going to be a solution, but I can recommend that we take a moment to pause and think about the burden of proof required to justify the states' management of our lives.

I think one of the lessons from the eugenics movement should be that the step from academic exercise to state policy should be a bit more arduous.  It was a crackpot theory based on an oversimplified, nascent understanding of genetics, proposed by otherwise intelligent, successful and respectable men.

Had it remained a mental medicine ball inside the minds of gray-haired academics, it would have been fine.  Even if a few nuts had devoted themselves to the culture and voluntarily congregated on an island to try the experiment on themselves, I would have been fine with that too. But they didn't, and the planners didn't wait for volunteers before they enlisted the arms of state.  It was only at that point that a silly idea became an evil one.

It is the same way for any Utopian fantasy.  It's all fun and games until you force others to play along.

If you want to gather with 12 other families on a communal farm and "live off the land" because that's how you interpret Marx and Malthus, good luck and godspeed.  But don't enlist a gang to force me to milk "our" cows.  I am not your slave.

If after your first undergraduate economics course you think we need an elastic money supply or that we need to "stimulate the economy" during a recession, make it happen with your own wealth, not mine.  I don't work for you.

If for some reason you think healthcare is a right of every human being, spend your life providing it to them for free.  Don't pass laws forcing me to provide X to my employees or to buy Y from the state's chosen insurer.  If the doctor's office becomes any more like the DMV, I will find you, and you will not be glad that I did.

Truly good ideas, like liberty and free exchange, prosper without the use of force.

My Liberal Spin-Off

I'm thinking of starting a blog from a liberal/progressive perspective.  It will be much easier on me, and I am certain to get more traffic.  Not only that, I will be able to produce way more content.  "Why?" you might ask?
First, I can just believe the Teacher's Union's version of history.  I only have to remember back to third grade.  It will be great!
Second, I don't have to think critically.  I just have to remember the following "arguments":
    1. The rich get rich by exploiting the poor.  
    2. Unions and labor laws, such as the minimum wage, created the middle class and the prosperity we enjoy today as Americans.   
    3. Markets, unregulated and left to their own devices, boom then bust and inevitably fail the little guy.  
    4. FDR saved us from the Great Depression which was caused by the laissez-faire policies of his predecessors.  
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