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Coronavirus control is still control

Regardless whether the coronavirus is pandemic or not, the government efforts to control it are a study in the dangers of central planning.

Alan Newport, Editor, Beef Producer

March 18, 2020

5 Min Read
Coronavirus quarantine police tape
Power enacted begets more power. Rawf8-iStock-GettyImagesPlus

This entire coronavirus situation, with massive government management and overreach, reminds me once again of the dangers of central planning and collusion between big government and big business.

I lean toward the thinking of those who believe there is much more going on that meets the eyes, but none of that diminishes how obvious it is those in power believe they have the right to control nearly every aspect of our lives.

In fact, I think this provides a perfect opportunity for me to explain why I am so against government tyranny and how I got this way. After all, I write quite often about market destructions and alterations caused by government intervention, and I allude to the dangers of said collusion quite often.

I was raised in what I now consider a very socialistic family, one which generally thought President Roosevelt saved the nation during the Great Depression and social programs were and are moral and beneficent.

Fortunately, I was interested in politics and I worked in regular journalism for several years after college. I also tend to have a long memory, not so much for details but for concepts and for trends over time. The things I observed in that crucible of worldliness that began to change me initially were these: Public officials had inflated egos, craved power, and were prone to lie and sometimes to steal. Ditto, of course, for the political parties to which they swore allegiance.

So, my first move of independence was to reject both political parties because they didn’t represent my beliefs nor my then-limited understanding of the U.S. Constitution. I also began to read more unofficial history, and increasingly to look for answers to my questions outside the normal pathways. The more questions I asked, the more partial answers I found, and therefore the more questions I formed. That was probably my first great awakening. I knew my public education was unimpressive, but was beginning to recognize I had been sold quick answers that were fundamentally incorrect.

I also began to read more about economics, as I could see economics was completely integral with daily life and politics. Also, I was and am interested in business and profitability, as I’m sure anyone who has read my blogs or other writings knows. In that context, someone shared with me a book called The Road to Serfdom, by the Austrian-born economist Friedrich Hayek. And here is the point of today’s blog: Reading it provided my greatest epiphany. To this day I cannot understand why it is not required reading for all high school children. It is that important.

Hayek’s writings (like those of Ludwig von Mises) directly countered those of the globalist puppet John Maynard Keynes, whose ideas on government interference and control of the economy have been the darling of the central bankers for nearly a century now.

Since I was an aggie and had only been formally trained in microeconomics, Hayek was entirely new thinking for me. The epiphany I mentioned, however, was Hayek’s explanation and assertion that government intrusion into a free economy opens the door to totalitarianism.

“Of course it does,” I thought. “That’s the story I’ve seen throughout history.”

About that time I returned to my Christian roots and I soon found the same patterns in biblical history.

This quote from Hayek is not in The Road to Serfdom, but it says in one sentence what he otherwise took an entire book to explain: “[Socialistic] economic planning, regulation, and intervention pave the way to totalitarianism by building a power structure that will inevitably be seized by the most power-hungry and unscrupulous.”

If you want to get a more complete idea of Hayek’s explanations on this topic, and a good short course in history, try reading an excerpt from Chapter 10 of The Road to Serfdom. That essay is called Why the Worst Get to the Top.

As I was researching Hayek material for this blog, I realized how accurately he described in 1944 the situation, people and attitudes I have seen emerge in this country in my lifetime, but especially in the last decade or so. It’s really quite eerie.

Here’s a bit more from Hayek, just in case I haven’t convinced you to read him, or in the event you think you don’t have enough time concerning the current need to shop for toilet paper:

“There is always in the eyes of the collectivist a greater goal which these acts serve and which to him justifies them because the pursuit of the common end of society can know no limits in any rights or values of any individual.

“But while for the mass of the citizens of the totalitarian state it is often unselfish devotion to an ideal, although one that is repellent to us, which makes them approve and even perform such deeds, this cannot be pleaded for those who guide its policy. To be a useful assistant in the running of a totalitarian state it is not enough that a man should be prepared to accept specious justification of vile deeds, he must himself be prepared actively to break every moral rule he has ever known if this seems necessary to achieve the end set for him. Since it is the supreme leader who alone determines the ends, his instruments must have no moral convictions of their own. They must, above all, be unreservedly committed to the person of the leader; but next to this the most important thing is that they should be completely unprincipled and literally capable of everything. They must have no ideals of their own which they want to realize, no ideas about right or wrong which might interfere with the intentions of the leader.

“There is thus in the positions of power little to attract those who hold moral beliefs of the kind which in the past have guided the European peoples, little which could compensate for the distastefulness of many of the particular tasks, and little opportunity to gratify any more idealistic desires, to recompense for the undeniable risk, the sacrifice of most of the pleasures of private life and of personal independence which the posts of great responsibility involve. The only tastes which are satisfied are the taste for power as such, the pleasure of being obeyed and of being part of a well-functioning and immensely powerful machine to which everything else must give way.”’

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Beef Producer or Farm Progress.

About the Author(s)

Alan Newport

Editor, Beef Producer

Alan Newport is editor of Beef Producer, a national magazine with editorial content specifically targeted at beef production for Farm Progress’s 17 state and regional farm publications. Beef Producer appears as an insert in these magazines for readers with 50 head or more of beef cattle. Newport lives in north-central Oklahoma and travels the U.S. to meet producers and to chase down the latest and best information about the beef industry.

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