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Quotation of the Day…

… is from pages 372-373 of David Boaz’s excellent 2015 book, The Libertarian Mind:

My ideal community would probably not be your utopia.  The attempt to create heaven on earth is more likely to produce hell, because we have different ideas of what heaven would be like.  As our society becomes more diverse, the possibility of our agreeing on one plan for the whole nation becomes even more remote.  And in any case we can’t possibly anticipate the changes that progress will bring.  Utopian plans always involve a static and rigid vision of the ideal community, a vision that can’t accommodate a dynamic world.  We can no more image what civilization will be like a century from now than the people of 1900 could have imagined today’s civilization.  What we need is not utopia but a free society in which people can design their own communities.

DBx: Yes.

One of the many mistaken beliefs about libertarianism and classical liberalism is that their opposition to central and large-scale planning by government implies an opposition to all planning.  In fact, libertarian and classical-liberal opposition to central and large-scale planning is, on its flip side, support for more and better planning – that is, planning by individuals, households, and firms and other voluntarily formed organizations.  Under a regime of private property and contract rights, and the free markets that this regime gives rise to, an unplanned ecosystem of planning emerges spontaneously.  The sizes of different sorts of plans – everything from lemonade stands to automobile manufacturers and giant retailers – are tested and discovered by markets, with, over time, only those particular planning arrangements whose benefits exceed their costs surviving, but surviving only as long as their benefits continue to justify their costs.

Economic planning by government substitutes one large, rigid, and poorly tested plan (or a small handful of such plans) for a vastly larger number of smaller, flexible, and constantly tested plans.  In doing so, economic planning by government substitutes centralized stupidity for decentralized intelligence (even if the centralized stupidity comes camouflaged as brilliance).

Put differently, true champions of diversity reject planning by government and celebrate the dynamism and manifold varieties of plans, actions, and outcomes generated by free markets.