“What Price a Planned Economy?” by F. A. Hayek

New to the Internet — “What Price a Planned Economy” by F. A. Hayek, originally published April, 1938 in the Contemporary Review of London.  Remarkably, many of the issues at hand are as fresh as today’s news columns:

in the direction of economic activity, say of transport, or industrial planning, the interests to be reconciled are so divergent that no true agreement on a single plan could be reached in a democratic assembly. Hence, in order to be able to extend action beyond the questions on which agreement exists, the decisions are reserved to a few representatives of the most powerful “interests.”

But this expedient is not effective enough to placate the dissatisfaction which the impotence of the democracy must create among all friends of extensive planning. The delegation of special decisions to many independent bodies presents in itself a new obstacle to proper coordination of state action in different fields.

The legislature is naturally reluctant to delegate decisions on really vital questions. And the agreement that planning is necessary, together with the inability to agree on a particular plan, must tend to strengthen the demand that the government, or some single person, should be given power to act on their own responsibility. It becomes more and more the accepted belief that if one wants to get things done, the responsible director of affairs must be freed from the fetters of democratic procedure …

Those familiar with Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom will also recognize early versions of many points and arguments developed in his famous best seller.

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