Calculation Problem Again

Justin Schwartz jschwart at
Sun Oct 30 21:23:25 MST 1994

On Sun, 30 Oct 1994 tgs at wrote:

> Thank god we have the market so we can be rest-assured as to our God-given right
> to get every latest new innovation in these air-polluting, cancer-causing
> monstrosities, that also run people down, make immediately desirable the
> possibility of suburban sprawl and consequent urban blight.  All so we
> can show off how much money we make and impress the opposite sex with
> our artificial mobility.  C'mon!  REad some Ivan Illich, for Chrissakes!

If the point of this is supposed to be that it doesn't matter if planning
stifles innovation, I'm sure I disagree. As to a general complaint against
an automotive culture, I share this distaste, but I note that this culture
is far from being the product of "the market." On the contrary, it has a
great deal to do with government subsidy of the auto, rubber, and oil
industries through the federal highway system, cheap gas, etc. Finally I
would caution against imposing our own idiosyncratic preferences as
standards of rationality for an economic system.

In general I am aware of the problems with markets. I would encourage
others who share this awareness to become aware of the problems with
planning. It is no use at all to invoke the ideal planning of totally
democratic planned systems and promise that unlike actual planned systems
they will be better than markets. You would be contemptuous of market fans
who invoked similar idealization to dismiss the problems with actual
markets, and rightly so. To make a case that democratic planning would be
better you have to relate the democracy, precisely specified, to solutions
to the efficiency problems which plague actual planned systems, and do so
in ways that, in terms of pollution, etc. have rendered them inferior to
advanced market systems. Come on: no more handwaving!

--Justin Schwartz


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