Saturday, October 04, 2008

Of Hayek and Medicare

Thanks to Timmy, who pointed out to me this demonstration of one of Hayek's arguments from The Road To Serfdom.
Essentially, Chait and Yglesias are resurrecting a debate that goes back at least to 1944, when economist (and later Nobel-laureate) Friedrich Hayek argued in The Road to Serfdom that a democracy that pursues socialism will end up with totalitarianism. Hayek warned “the socialists of all parties” that government is institutionally incapable of planning economic activity, and that the resulting failures would draw into government characters who promise to use increasingly repressive measures to get the job done.

This seems to me to be so utterly self-evident—just look at the last eleven years of this NuLabour government if you'd like an example of how the process is started—that to argue against it you would have to be both astoundingly optimistic and astonishing ignorant of both history and human nature. But there are those who disagree.
At the time and since, socialists and skeptics have mocked Hayek’s prediction, noting that Sweden isn’t exactly governed by goose-stepping morons. A fair point, I suppose.

And yet…

Do wander over to the Cato Institute and follow their example...


chris said...

Sweden did have a program of compulsory sterilisation based on eugenic prinipals for a while, which does put them pretty close to the goose stepping morons. The reason that they had this was the need to weed out those that would be a burden on the Welfare State:

"Between 1935 and 1975, around 63,000 people were sterilised in Sweden, of which 93% were women. About 40% were sterilised without their consent. In the historical context of the Swedish welfare state ("folkhem") of the first half of the 20th century, it was admissible to subordinate individuals' rights to the intended welfare state ideal. Especially in the 1930s and 1940s, the welfare state idea was associated with the vision that organised eugenic measures could increase the quality of "human material”, and the Swedish state claimed the right to decide who was worthy to have children with regard to "healthy” social development."

TBRRob said...

Hayek was spot on.