Governent's long-term planning is useless...
In the first
line of his book, Planning for Freedom, Ludwig Von Mises, the
famed Austrian economist, observed "Planning is socialism." I
will admit that my first acquaintance with government planners
was a planning class in my Master’s program, where I
was given the party line about how important it was to plan
for growth. I read dozens of books, by some very brilliant
writers, bemoaning the fact that our society doesn’t
plan growth, and I was treated to descriptions of the planning
utopia that would exist if we just "planned" our
I then sat
on a City Planning Commission.
thinks that planning for "growth" is anything other
than a exercise in futility is still experiencing the mind-altering
visions that their college chemicals visited upon him or her
so many years ago. Today’s planners meet in little rooms,
draw pretty pictures on paper maps, use the prettiest crayons
they can find, and — whamo – the city has a plan.
Wonder and utopia are supposed to follow, and never again will
the city experience traffic congestion or cosmic disharmony.
Haynes is an Assembly member representing Riverside
and Temecula. He serves on the Appropriations and
Budget Committees. [go to Assembly Member Haynes website
at California Assembly][go to Haynes index]
We also don’t
have enough houses, apartments, or commercial buildings. More
important, these necessary commodities
up in the wrong place, and their placement seems to increase
traffic and school congestion. The great plans, drawn by the
learned planners, in search of community utopia, have all failed.
The fact is, people build stuff where they want
to build it, when they want to build it, and how they want
to build it, no
matter what the government says. The only reason they don’t
build it is that the government will throw them in jail if they
don’t comply with the plan. The only people that don’t
build the right stuff in the right place at the right time are
those that work for the government. In other words, we don’t
have traffic congestion because of developers, we have traffic
congestion because planners don’t build roads, and the
government has more planners than they have road builders.
When the government draws up a plan, the plan
works if the people who own the land agree with the plan (that
is, if they think
they will make money if they follow the plan). If they don’t
think they will make money, the land stays vacant. Interestingly
enough, even developers don’t decide what will get built,
as they are also subject to market forces. Homebuyers and retail
customers decide by choosing to visit the business or buy the
homes that are built. Nobody builds a home that no one will buy,
or starts a business that no one will visit. Customers and home
buyers decide; not business, not developers, and particularly
not government planners.
That is why
I chuckle whenever I hear my colleagues in Sacramento talk
about "ten year plans." Last week,
the Legislature had a bill for a "ten year" road
plan. Of course, in California, it takes 23 years to build
a freeway, because we
plan and plan, and never build. The Legislature’s solution?
Another plan. We have planned so well in this state that today
our roads are extremely congested, our houses cost entirely too
much, our schools are horrendously overcrowded, our budget is
out of balance, and we are running short on water, electricity
And we continue to extol the virtue of government
plans. We know that socialism is a failed experiment, as demonstrated
the failure of the Soviet Union, socialism’s most devoted
practitioner. My socialist colleagues in the Legislature, however,
think that they are smarter than the Russians and that socialism
will work here in California if we just have the right plan.
The most recent polls tell us that the public is not satisfied
with how we are doing our job. Maybe we should try something
different, like freedom and free enterprise, the principles that
made this country great. Just thinking out loud here. CRO
Haynes is a California Assembleyman representing Riverside
and Temecula and frequent contributor to CaliforniaRepublic.org.