The current demonisation of plastics is of course just a manifestation of the latest religious mania. There’s little rhyme and no reason to it all. And yet we can still find amusements in it, little stories which illustrate other aspects of life. As with this, where a government minister rails against one such aspect of the use of plastics only to find out that his own department uses plastics in exactly this manner. The point being not anything about plastics but why each and every attempt to plan an economy in detail always does end up as the most abject failure.
The story itself:
The Government has been accused of “sheer hypocrisy” for urging schools to become plastic free zones, after it emerged that its own fruit and vegetable initiative uses plastic packaging. Under the scheme, all children at aged between four and six-years-old who attend state-funded primary schools are given a daily portion of fruit or vegetables. These are delivered to schools by Foodbuy, a Government supplier, wrapped in single-use plastic.
And the meaning of it:
It’s not that the Minister can’t try to control it’s that he doesn’t even know. Doesn’t know not just what we 65 million out here are doing, or the generality of the government, but doesn’t know what his own department is doing on a daily basis. At which point this cloud of ignorance is going to make planning everything a bit difficult, as Hayek told us.
Hayek’s point really was that the centre can never have enough information to do that planning. This is before we get to the point over whether we want to live in a society planned by the sort of people who go into politics. Given that the information never will be available therefore the planning never will be viable.
Thus let’s not bother.