Monday, June 21, 2010

Wartime Planning...Easy.

While reading Bruce Caldwell's introduction to Hayek's 'The Road to Serfdom, I began meditating on economic planning. A plan is simple enough as a stand alone concept. It is a set of strategies employed to achieve a desired end (my definition). An economic plan, then, is a set of strategies employed to achieve an economics related end. For example, suppose the United States decided to gear the entire US manufacturing base towards Diet Sprite production. Let's ignore the fact that this would destroy the economy and just say that Diet Sprite production would be pretty easy.

But this is too simplistic. Consider wartime planning. During WWII, a massive portion of the US industrial base was retooled to meet the needs of our military forces whether it be arms manufacturing, rubber production, or any other functions related to war. In other words, fighting a war and planning an economy designed to aid and sustain the US war fighting capabilities allows economic planners to limit their considerations to just those involved in regulating on our enemies.

Here is a question (assume that planning is the way to go): during times of peace, what should economic planners plan for? What end should they try to achieve?

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