2nd June 2011
The planning mercantilists of the West are nibbling away at freedom and quality of life
Free trade, free choice, free movement of people – these concepts frighten the mercantilists. The mercantilists oppose free trade. They oppose the idea that people can decide – in their own best interest – for themselves. The mercantilists are wedded to trade restrictions, tariffs, and rationing. Everyone must abide by the personal whims of the mercantilist. The mercantilist is a dictator. A planner. A Keynesian. A socialist. … You get the point.
Let me talk about planners for a moment – the urban planners (not the full-blooded socialists who work in India's "Planning" Commission about whom I've written in BFN).
Planners have a very poor impression about people like us. They firmly believe that we the people are stupid. I've heard (precisely) these words repeated many a time from the horses' mouths (I have known many planners in my life – in India and elsewhere).
Urban planners want to ration and constrain our choices. The idea that we might prefer to have a backyard, and live on the ground, in touch with Nature, sounds absurd to them. We must live in squashed tiny apartments. That is their goal for us: one box on top of another.
Planners also want to ration our leisure. They hate the idea that we have cars, and detest the idea of our using vehicles to travel. If a freeway (or some other road-based solution) is the optimal answer, the typical planner complains that building more roads will increase congestion ("induced demand").
They simply don't understand the concept of pent-up-demand – for public goods. The fact that roads don't exist today, or that it takes many hours to travel to a neighbouring picnic spot of our choice (beach/ hills, whatever) means that we don't travel as much as we would have otherwise done. That is a sign of BACKWARDNESS and POVERTY: that you have a demand for something which can't be fulfilled.
With more roads being constructed, there is greater freedom, greater choice, greater opportunity. We will go out to the picnic we wanted to, on the weekend, instead of sitting cooped up inside our cramped apartment. We will communicate with nature and revive our energy and zest for life.
But the idea that the common man should to able to travel by car to a picnic on the weekend is abhorrent to these mercantilist planners. They would rather see us caged inside tiny apartments, chained to our desk and bed (and TV). They would also abolish cars, if they could have their way. (Many of these mercantilist planners and environmental nazis are super-wealthy with mansions; they jet to Paris for a picnic; not for them the nearby beach or regional town). They hate the idea that the common man should be able to enjoy his life.
Because of the planning mercantilists, people in the West are now beginning to face a steep decline in their quality of life. The roads are unbelievably crowded – and narrow (being designed for the 1940s) – but the planners oppose the idea of building roads or over-bridges. It would appear that people can be "allowed" to earn more, but not permitted to spend it the way they like.