Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson write,

Central planning maximizes the extent of control that the state, and the people running the state, exercise. The desire to control others is a constant in history and is part and parcel of the construction of states. If the state can grab all the land and resources and control who and on what terms people get access to them, then this maximizes control, even if it sacrifices economic efficiency.

Pointer from Mark Thoma.

This argument comes across to me as a hardline libertarian position, not one that I would typically associate with the authors. It is hard to root for government intervention after reading just this post. To make the case for government intervention, you want to ascribe moral authority to those who advocate intervention and ascribe evil motives to those who oppose it. In this post, it’s the other way around.

I am somewhat less hard line. I believe that the motives and intentions are sometimes (often?) better than “the desire to control others.” In any case, I think that a major goal of economic reasoning should be to focus attention on consequences rather than motives and intentions.