Historically, central planners have generally done a poor job of managing economic resources — this we’ve known since the time of the Pharaohs. But Guided Allocation of Resources — or GAR — has improved over the centuries. The Soviets used simple accounting tools and firing squads to build massive, primary infrastructure… dams and steel mills etc. But they were incompetent at the secondary economy… making a refrigerator anyone wanted. The Japanese took computerized skills and capitalist zaibatsu structures and planned their way to great success… that hit a wall in the tertiary economy. The brainy engineers in the Chinese politburo think their shiny AI models can evade any wall. They are probably wrong, but we’ll see.
Our system is based on a belief — rooted in our success over 200 years — that you cannot define optimum conditions for an economy, but you CAN create general attractor states. Example: the existence of any flat-fair-open competition at all is an attractor state that results in vastly more creativity and production…
…but that condition is unstable and critically vulnerable to cheating. Our society achieved a semblance of flat-fair-open competition by intentionally — and with deliberate foresight — altering the boundary conditions of market forces so that that attractor state can flourish. Among those boundary conditions was vigorous rules against cheating.
Case in point the breakup of toxic pools of economic power — like monopolies and duopolies. Anti-trust rules enacted by several generations (under several Roosevelts) were spectacularly effective and limiting cheating and opening up genuine competition. Take the auto industry. With 25+ major car-makers out there, competition is genuine and we get better cars for less money, every year. Add in further regulations to incentive emission and efficiency improvements, and the result is consumers having saved scores of billions at the pump, since the CAFE rules were enacted.
Of course, eliminating all such regulation, especially against toxic concentration of market share, has been among the top goals of cheater-oligarchies, who seek economy-warping power.
See how Robert Reich explains the “Monopolization of America.” And be outraged that the Boomers let slide the wisdom of their parents and grandparents (who adored Roosevelts for good reasons.)
Yes, I am libertarian enough to want a light hand! I am fiercely liberal about eliminating unfairnesses, cheater conspiracies, prejudices and poverties that waste talent. Liberal interventions that enable all children to shoot for their potential aren’t just moral, they are pragmatic — any society that wastes talent to poverty or oppression isn’t just evil, it is stupid.
And clearly we need the boundary conditions to include incentives and deterrents that account for externalities like planetary health.
On the other hand, HOW liberated and healthy-education young people then sort themselves out to work for truly competitive companies should be up to them. This is a conversation that the two cousin philosophies — liberalism and libertarianism — could be having!
And the top priority of the Murdoch-Putin-Mercer-Koch oligarchy is to prevent those cousins from every recognizing what the share… a common enemy.