Realist, not conformist analysis of the latest financial, business and political news

Planning Is Just Such A Difficult Thing, Isn’t It?

Why complain that people are solving hunger with food banks?

Today’s installment of why Hayek was right. You know, that bit in the Nobel Lecture, The Pretence of Knowledge.

The point being made was that people really will start to think – even after all that evidence of how scientific socialism didn’t work – that they would be able to know enough about the world to plan it. Sure, some things just do have to be planned but we need to be modest about our ability to do so. We don;t have a calculating engine capable of handling the economy other than the economy itself. We also don’t have and cannot have enough information to be able to get around this either.

At which point a nice little example of this:

The analysis also reveals the startling extent to which official statistics have underestimated EU migration to the UK in the last decade.

So far, a combined total of 1,116,000 Bulgarians and Romanians have had their applications approved, more than double the latest ONS figure for the entire population of Bulgarians and Romanians in the country, which was thought to stand at 523,000.

Ignorance about the true numbers over the last decade made planning public services near impossible, according to Professor Alan Manning, chief of the government’s Migration Advisory Committee until 2020.

The full number of unknowns to be here seems to be of the order of 2 to 2.5 million.

OK, sure, that makes planning government services a bit difficult. But think on a bit. Imagine we had someone trying to plan the food supply. That question the Soviet bloke asked in 1990 “Who is in charge of the bread supply for London?”.

OK, so we’ve an office, a bureaucracy, that plans the food supply. Who grows what, where, then the prices it will be sold at and in which location. GOSPlan that is, for food. And don’t you dare believe that there aren’t people out there who think this would be a good idea. I recall one young shaver insisting that the solution to Venezuela’s planning caused food problems was that the government should really take it over and control all of the food supply system.

OK, so what happens? The food supply system plans to provide food for 2 million people less than there actually are. This not being likely to work out well.

Or, the larger point perhaps. We don’t – or at least didn’t – know how may people there were in the country. Thus planning in any detail is going to go more than a bit awry, isn’t it?

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Spike
Spike
1 month ago

Not to mention the ruinous misdirection worldwide justified by the fake numbers from Imperial College on the lethality of Covid-19. This was not science but a simulation, which assumed no adaptation or innovation at all. Our leaders don’t want science that measures stuff. They want science on which to hang their next boondoggle and shush their opponents.

Esteban
Esteban
1 month ago

Both Kung Flu & global warming are cases of “policy based evidence making”.

swannypol
swannypol
1 month ago

Of the 3m EU immigrants that were in the country when we voted to leave
750k went home
5.5m applied for residency
100k are receiving benefits costing over £1bn a year but have not yet applied for residency
No one knows what happened to the rest.

Bloke on M4
Bloke on M4
1 month ago

“Or, the larger point perhaps. We don’t – or at least didn’t – know how may people there were in the country. Thus planning in any detail is going to go more than a bit awry, isn’t it?” I reckon you could get this reasonably accurate if you tried. We have things like the register of births, deaths and marriages, benefits systems, hospital systems. We can approximate surnames and forenames with countries. The effort to write a little bit of software to crunch all that and spit out a result would be small. The problem is that no-one gives a… Read more »

Bongo
Bongo
1 month ago

Sounds like it’s hard to estimate the number of foreigners in the UK based on benefit claims then.
And if there are say 1m unrecorded non-UK workers here, not claiming benefits, living frugally and quietly remitting half their incomes home, then that is about 0.7% foreign aid target dealt with.

Last edited 1 month ago by Bongo
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