Doubts about Planning
By Arnold Kling
Jonathan Rauch argues that the absence of a plan for post-war Iraq is a feature, not a bug.
In truth, the planning mind-set is exactly wrong for Iraq. Anything might have happened after the war: a flood of refugees, a cholera pandemic, a civil war—or, for that matter, the discovery of an advanced nuclear program. The fact that the Bush administration keeps adjusting its course, often contravening its own plans or preferences, is a hopeful sign…
Only trial and error, otherwise known as muddling through, can work in Iraq. There is no other way. Muddling through is not pretty, but never underestimate America’s genius for it.
This description also could be applied to the difference between capitalism and socialism. Capitalism learns by trial and error, by success and failure in the market. Planned economies learn less well, and fail more catastrophically.
UPDATE: for a business-consulting style argument for adaptability rather than centralization in the information age, see this Department of Defense report.
For Discussion. Central planning would seem to reduce the number of experiments. In the short run, this would reduce the number of failures. However, in the long run, it would limit success. Does central planning tend to work relatively better in the short run than in the long run?