Will McPhail fails to make a point on central planning


Hold everything!  The impossible has been done!  Everything you’ve believed about the relationship between economics and the state has been proven incorrect!

The economic calculation problem has been solved.

Well, that’s at least true according to New Yorker cartoonist Will McPhail.

The cartoon above appears to be a clever metaphor that shows why we need smart people with elevated levels of foresight in charge of our lives.  If we didn’t have these people, i.e. politicians, we’d end up ruining our own lives.

We’d crash the plane into the ground.

Maybe McPhail isn’t capable of managing his own affairs.  I certainly don’t want to prevent him from being able to allow someone to be his nanny and make sure he doesn’t unwittingly hurt himself.  I, however, don’t need such “help” and would very much like for him to not impose such oversight upon me.  How would politicians and bureaucrats who have never met me and who have their own motivations know what is best for me?

And on a larger scale, how does a person or a group of people who do not possess perfect knowledge have the ability to direct resources efficiently and effectively without the help of prices set by the free exchange of goods and services?  They do not.  That is why central planning always fails.

McPhail attempted to be snarky and witty but overlooked some basic ideas regarding what it truly takes to do the impossible.