Every struggling upstart blogger is thrilled to see notifications of comments on one of their posts. I am no different; I relish each of the 10 comments my site has received. A few weeks ago I was delighted to see a new comment but was surprised to find that it was a tag from another blog. I pasted the address into my browser and was delighted to find a rather lengthy article devoted to missing the point of my original commentary which was essentially a very simplified, sound-bite-style summary of the socialist calculation problem. I never intended for the piece to be a thorough dissertation on the topic, but rather, a rant the blow off steam and preach to for four-person choir that is my following. But I posted it nonetheless, so it is fair grounds for debate. It is a curious strategy to pick on a blog nobody reads, but I am flattered still.
The argument, which was about 5 times the length of my original post, went something like this (parenthetical statements are to be taken from my perspective):
- Talented individuals do not always perform up to their expectations.
- Sometimes less talented individuals outperform more talented ones by better honing their skills and being more well rounded.
- Therefore skill is the relevant metric for predicting success as opposed to talent.
- The quoted statement (from my post) implies that no one will ever be talented enough to effectively centrally plan an economy (a gross misunderstanding). We already know how irrelevant talent is, therefore this statement is false.
- Our institutions have it all wrong because they tend to look at talent instead of skill.
- Parents who tell their children to follow their talents and do what they love are "almost criminal" because alot of people don't like their jobs.
- Therefore, we can't give up on central planning because we haven't been appropriately looking for or demonstrating the skills required to be successful at it. We have to keep our optimism and keep plugging away (in spite of a total lack of evidence to the efficacy of central planning).
"This is just one more reason why I find libertarian bomb-throwing to be wearying: we already know that something is going wrong, and we already know how to make it better. What we need is for fewer people to pounce on the opportunity to be bitterly pessimistic and instead look around them at the ways in which we can, have, and do make things work - or, in the case of people who can't manage that, to at least have the courtesy to stay the fuck out of the way."
Really, "we" know how to make it better?! Then why didn't "we" stop it from happening in the first place. The author must suffer from the delusion that there was no central planning going on prior to the crash and that only the government can swoop in and save us from the dastardly deeds of "the market". The original point he is missing, and I take part of the blame for being so terse to begin with, is not that no one is smart enough, talented enough or even skilled enough to manage an economy. The point is that no one will ever acquire the knowledge needed to do such a thing at the time they will have needed to do it. To think otherwise is pure hubris, and frankly, quite dangerous. This is not pessimism per se; I simply disagree with the position. that "we" can and must do something. I am quite optimistic that free individuals left to their own devices and allowed to live, innovate, and trade freely will prosper.
Besides all of the practical considerations, which I leave to Mises, Hayek and Rothbard for further detail, there is no moral justification for central planning. No amount of skill gives anyone the right to force me to use a particular type of money or to spend it on a particular type of good. No level of crisis gives anyone the right to take something from one individual by force and give it to another. It seems pretty clear to me, that the man who proposes we give up on peace and start imposing the will of the state on formerly free people should bear an enormous burden of proof well beyond torturing a distinction between "talent" and "skill". Further, it is clear that he is the one standing between us an prosperity.
The author, after missing the finer points, has hit square upon the central purpose of this blog - to get the fuck in the way...
...of legal plunder*.
*If you didn't get this, you haven't been reading enough Bastiat.