In Chapter Five of The Road to Serfdom, Hayek points out that in order for any central planning to work, there must be some sort of national “moral code”. The government needs some sort of hierarchy to decide what projects to move forward with, and what to ignore. For example: If the government runs GM, should the auto manufacturer make hybrids or trucks? If the government controls the oil companies (through nationalization or through some sort of strong arm tactics) should oil companies be allowed to drill in deep-water, on land, or in Alaska? If the government controls healthcare, then what is the dollar amount a year a woman of 70 with three kids should be allowed to use for medical care? What if she voted Republican?
Reading The Road to Serfdom has shown me that we are much further down the road to socialism and tyranny then I thought mere months ago. I use the examples above to illustrate how statist have already decdied on a national moral code but haven’t had the fortitude to call it that. In each of these cases we know exactly how the government would decide. Yet, there is very little cost / benefit or mathematics behind the decisions. It feels “better for the planet” if GM makes more hybrids. Ignore the damage to the environment that the batteries for these cars cost. Then Senator Barack Obama said he wanted to make it cost prohibitive to build oil refineries. Forget that there is no energy source that provides the power in the same size unit as oil. And while the liberals went ballistic at the mention of death panels, is there anyone out there who believes that government run healthcare won’t have some sort of rationing?? The President himself has said that there will be no place for a “quality of life” indicator in the equation when the government decides if your grandmother is worth the new alzheimer’s medicine or not.
Each of these decisions is the result of a choice by a government planner at some level. And each of these represents a decision by the government on what is right or wrong. While liberals believe that no one has the right to criticize someone for their morals or lack of morals, they are already forcing Americans to live with their own national moral code.
Happy Fourth of July to everyone. I hope you and your family have a safe day celebrating the birth of our nation. I plan on covering chapter seven and eight for next week.