Sunday, July 10, 2011

We need more, not less, government planning

I listened to John Stossel's latest show today on Fox Business (see link below), in which he cited Austrian-born economist F. A. Hayek's 1944 book, The Road to Serfdom, which warned against the tyranny that Hayek felt inevitably results when government controls national direction via a central planning function. Stossel was supportive of Hayek's view, and seemed to imply that planning and goal-setting by themselves equate to harsh government control and the elimination of personal freedoms. Essentially, he said we should rely on the capitalist system and let our corporations do our planning for us, as if corporations -- which are largely global today and without national allegiances -- can somehow be relied upon to put the American public's interests before their own.

Hmm... With unemployment so high, with government spending and our national debt out of control, with our infrastructure in decay, with our economy repeatedly bouncing from boom to bust, and with over 25% of our national wealth in the hands of less than 1% of our population (up from 9% thirty years ago), does it seem like we're on a a good course and that it's a good idea to continue to not do any long-term planning with the people's interests in mind? Furthermore, ironically, the corporations that Mr. Stossel so admires all have central (i.e., strategic) planning functions. Such functions are considered to be essential in the business world. Given that people like Stossel constantly advocate for government to be run more like business, then why shouldn't such a function exist within government, but with the national interest in mind? As it is now, in the absence of a strong planning function, we aimlessly meander from election to election, never building towards a unified vision of a better society. In the meantime, China, which does have a strong central planning function, is gaining ground on us every day. It's very frustrating.

You can't get where you want to go without a road map, and a road map is a product of planning.

To read about Stossel's show on his blog, click here. The show will be repeated again tonight, Sunday, July 10th, at 6pm on Fox Business (Comcast channel 130 in the Bay Area).