American Consequences - March 2021


to every place. This is like having a high school Spanish teacher who says, “I’m the only person in this classroom who knows Spanish, and I intend to keep it that way! I’m not about to give you kids any of my ability to speak Spanish. You can just sit there and watch videos on your phones until the bell rings. But no Telemundo!” An example of non -central planning is the remarkable speed with which individually owned and controlled pharmaceutical companies were able to develop a variety of different but effective coronavirus vaccines. Perhaps centrally planned scientific research and centrally controlled vaccine manufacture could have achieved the same goal in the same time span. But to suppose so requires a thought experiment where a layer of government bureaucracy is put on top of inoculation R&D. Do you think your car would go faster and handle better with an elephant (or a herd of donkeys) on its roof? And would you really prefer to get the Chinese vaccine? Or the Russian shot in the arm? One more reason that central planning doesn’t work is that a single, central plan assumes that we know which single, central thing it is that we need to plan for. We don’t. “Climate change” used to be called “global warming.” We planned for Texas to get roasted. This winter, Texas froze. No doubt Texans are very grateful that we renamed our

attempt to centrally plan the weather in time for their pipes to burst. We planned for decades to deal with the “population explosion.” Now, it turns out the problem is the “aging of the population.” And the only thing exploding is grandpa when he sees Nancy Pelosi on CNN.

One more reason that central planning doesn't work is that a single, central plan assumes that we know

which single, central thing it is that we need to plan for.

When I was a kid, we were planning for a nuclear war with the U.S.S.R. We had to get under our school desks for Civil Defense drills. While I was under there, I started wondering how much protection a school desk would provide if the school were hit by an atomic bomb. That caused me to sit up and think – and crack my noggin against the bottom of the desktop. That’s just the smack on the head that central planning needs.

American Consequences


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