The Case for Planning
By Arnold Kling
The job of discipline belongs to governments. And they must act not only on behalf of today’s citizens but of all those yet to come – of those who need clean food and water, of those who need safe cars, appliances and workplaces, and of those will be around the low countries when the ice caps melt. Dealing with problems means thinking ahead, from an independent, forward-looking point of view. This is called planning. It means providing stable, predictable rules for the private sector. This is called setting standards.
…I have never accepted that the United States fits the mold of a “free market economy.” If we ever did, that model collapsed in the Great Depression. What was built in its place was a remarkable mix of public and private. There was, of course, plenty of room for enterprise. But it came in a framework, of a government that was, at its best, competently concerned with research, infrastructure, national security, the workplace and the environment, that provided Social Security and a large share of education, health care and housing. Part of the accidental genius of the system was that the public-private mix in those three areas, especially, created “soft budget constraints” that caused higher education, the medical sector and the mortgage market to grow very large – far larger than they ever could have, under either the free market taken alone or under socialism. While many notorious problems remained (especially our lack of universal health insurance), this enriched the middle class and was an immense source of growth.
I don’t mind giving him a shot at his planned utopia. Just leave me out of it.
I am willing to let the planners have Europe. I wish that America, or some state within it, could be free to live without the planners. See this old essay.