Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Here comes Statist Claus!

The Financial Post is running a series of editorial commentaries prompted by the zeal with which renewed government intervention in the economy is currently being promoted. Terence Corcoran sets the stage with this overview, while Peter Foster issues this reminder that Keynesian economics was replaced by free market reforms in the 1990s for good reason -- Keynes was wrong!

The impulse for the Big Push by governments, despite the fact that empirical evidence invalidates any assertive claims for possible success, reflects a political and ideological allegiance to what Easterly refers to as Planning: a stasist, utopian, social engineering resplendent with Big Goals, Big Plans, fixed objectives and high moralism. Planning is the purview of the heroic politician, Big bureaucracy, unions, activists and good intentions, with very little accountability or responsibility but a lot of censure. Life is all about the planning of change, the plan and the planners, more than the change itself. Style over substance and the appearance of action, more than the results of the intervention.

The contrasting approach to resolving life's problems builds upon the creativity and dynamism of individuals, who act within local contexts as Searchers, who effect change by implementing solutions that they are accountable for, and for which they take responsibility. Situations are resolved incrementally, by trial and error and there is no grand scheme nor universal plan. Life is more of a process of continuous improvement and constant adaptation to change, creating opportunities and facilitating the capacity to engage.

This is not a new division in philosophy. Its antecedents are well defined in the work of Smith, Locke, Burke and Hayek. Postrel refers to it as dynamism and stasis, Easterly to searchers and planners: its the same ideological contest. What many do not realize, is that this same division in ideology it is played out in all policy arenas:
environmentalism, health, development, climate, politics, media, civil society, culture, education and just about everything.

We have a choice. We can create our world, or wait while someone else does it for us. This blog is for those who want to determine their own future, take responsibility for themselves, and sustain their engagement in the active improvement of their world by their actions. It has no big plan, no fixed objectives. Just an over-riding adherence to the search for sustainability:
  • the capacity of a system to engage in the complexities of continuous improvement consistent with deep values of human purpose.
It's the difference between being Santa Claus and adhering to the Stasist Clause.