The Madness of Government Planning

Why “Top-Downism” Will Always Fail

[This article is excerpted and adapted from an essay published previously on Free Life.]

It can scarcely be denied that the past two years have seen a rapid increase in the centralisation and consolidation of state power. While 2019 was hardly a small-state paradise, the penchant for central planning has gathered pace during the time in which we were all confined to COVID house arrest. Indeed, the whole sorry spectacle of lockdowns, masking, distancing and mass vaccination programmes were themselves uniform, top-down responses to a particular problem. Never matter how disastrous and destructive these policies, governments haven’t wavered from the notion that more of their input is the panacea to every societal ill – most of which, needless to say, are caused by governments themselves. Indeed, there is a pending attempt to harmonise government responses to health “emergencies” under the auspices of the World Health Organisation through a “pandemic treaty”.

It is therefore no surprise to see this attitude continuing with the subsequent problems caused by COVID lockdowns and excess money printing – high inflation, supply change disruption, a growing food and energy crisis, and so on. The UK government alone is presently trotting out grand plans such a “food strategy”, an “energy security strategy”, a “strategic plan for homes”; in the field of transport alone, there is a “transport investment strategy”, a “future of transport programme”, a “transport decarbonisation plan”, and an “inclusive transport strategy” – undoubtedly one of a few amongst many others. Moreover, all of these – some of which, quite literally, are Soviet-sounding “five year plans” – are individually quite modest compared to bigger schemes such as “Net Zero” or the “Great Reset”, although they may all be fashioned from the same mould. All in all, we seem to have given a green light to the zeal for remoulding social and economic systems according “all-encompassing” visions enforced upon society from the top-down.

If, for the sake of argument, we assume that such visions are promulgated with the best of possible intentions, they are, no doubt, built partly on the misguided notion that chaos would reign without such interventionism. In other words, only the steady hand of government on the societal tiller can foster “harmony”, “unity” and “co-operation”. The opposite, however, is really the case. It is this top-down, state planning that will always bring disorder, misery and destitution.

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