“Government economic planning” probably is as popular as “government death panels “to most Americans. Understandably, the term conjures up images of Soviet 5-year plans and other coercive and archaic forms of central planning Or, maybe it’s because one of our political parties these days believes any form of government action – including providing basic infrastructure and financial sector regulation — is tantamount to socialism’s jackboot. Or maybe it’s because the public is unaware of how much economic planning governments at different levels actually do in the United States. Or maybe people have good reason to be suspicious of grandiose economic planning.
On Thursday I’ll open with a little talk on the types of economic planning we already do in this country. There’s a lot of it. Then, I’ll explain why so much of this is invisible to the public, and then we can discuss. In discussion, I hope we can do more than just bash libertarians’’ overwrought definition of socialism. I’d like to flesh out the failures of old-fashioned central planning, and discuss potential new forms of government shaping of private markets, and their risks and downsides as well.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS –
- What types of economic planning does the government already do? What arguments are used to justify them?
- Does the public really grasp that all of this is going on? Why not?
- What’s wrong with “central planning?” Why did it fail? Did it succeed in some cases?
- What additional (or previously used) kinds of government planning might be needed, might actually work, and might the public accept?
- The best short explanation I’ve ever read on why markets need government to function.
- The public investment deficit.
- An example of successful economic planning in America and a liberal view bemoaning our lack of a national industrial policy since the 1970s.
- Two more conservative views: (1) Capitalism’s problems are apparent, but it’s still the only viable system, if reformed. (I highly recommend it). (2) The record of failed government attempts to usher in a new energy economy.
It’s a busy week for me as well as for you, I imagine. If I don’t see you at the meeting, have a Merry Christmas!