Page:Rise and Fall of Society.djvu/67

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"Easy Come, Easy Go"

of his desires. Variability of choice makes predictions most precarious, as producers well know. The best the planner can do is to forecast "average" desires on the basis of past experience. But the "average" necessarily eliminates the desires of last year's minority, who may be the majority this year.

Confronted with this problem of variability in desires, the "economic planner" must resort to constriction, to limitation of choice, to the strangulation of imagination. The planner undertakes to prescribe what the individual should want, and the basis for his prescription is a conviction that he knows best what is "good" for the individual. Because it is in the market place that variability of choice expresses itself, through price, the planner's conceit leads him to attempt to control consumption by controlling price. But price is not controllable, simply because desires are not controllable. The barrier to free choice which the planner sets up acts like the dam in the river; the water does not stop flowing but either overflows the dam or spreads out in a lake. Price control does not stop wanting or bidding; it simply creates what propaganda calls a "black market," which is in fact the true market, somewhat distorted but nevertheless true. It may be illegal but it is highly moral, for it arises from the individual's right to himself, to the product of his labors, and to the pursuit of happiness which is the essence of living.

Since the control of consumption by means of fixed prices proves impossible, the planner turns to constricting productive specialization. That is, he undertakes to desocialize Society. As we have seen, men come together and cooperate for the improvement of their circumstances—to raise their common wage level—and they accomplish this purpose through specialization; any attempt to constrict specialization is therefore unnatural and regressive; to the extent that