Richard Ebeling emails:
I have a new article on the website of the Future of Freedom Foundation on, "Political Planning versus Personal Planning by Everyone."
It seems that everyone has a political plan, a “plan” for national health care, a “plan” for a clean environment, a “plan” for a guaranteed living wage, a “plan” for . . . the list is endless.
After all, we all plan the various and sundry aspects of our daily lives, both the little things and the big things. Why shouldn’t governments have plans, too, to influence and guide the directions of society, as a whole?
With personal, individual planning, each of us makes our own decisions concerning desired goals and the best peaceful ways to try to attain them. We also enter into agreements and arrangements with others, so their plans are more consistent and coordinated with our own, so each of us may better attain our respective ends with the assistance of others.
We are also each able to use and take advantage of the special and unique knowledge we, respectively, possess in our own circumstances that others may neither know nor appreciate the way each of us can in our own corners of the society and the market. And in doing so, the use of that knowledge not only serves our own purposes, but also through being applied in the production and exchange processes of the market is placed at the serve of all those with whom we directly and indirectly interact in the competitive market.
Government plans, on the other hand, are fundamentally different than those undertaken by each of us as private individuals. Political plans have an element that none of our personal plans normally possess: the threat or use of force to compel others to comply with what the government planner wishes to impose on everyone.
Furthermore, the content of the government planners’ plans are limited to what they, the planners, can successfully know, understand, and appreciate in terms of all the relevant and potential knowledge in the world that might, otherwise, be brought to bear to solve people’s desires and problems. Thus, political plans straightjacket all in the society to the limited knowledge possessed in only a handful of minds, rather than benefiting, cumulatively, from all the knowledge existing in everyone’s mind and which, in principle, can be utilized for the betterment of all in the open market competitive process.
Finally, the rules of a free market society are meant to facilitate the smooth and effective interactions of multitudes of individuals each of whom is at liberty to follow their own plans for their own purposes, as they consider best. Political plans confine all within the plan imposed by those in government power, and to which we are each expected to conform.
The choice in society is whether a handful of human minds will impose their preferred plans on all, or whether each individual shall be free to make and follow his own plans, with compatibility and cooperative association among many of those plans through the peaceful agreements of mutual consent.