It’s also why socialism can only truly work on a very small scale – one in which all players are interconnected, buy fully into it and are willing to abide by its terms of shared sacrifice.
The lack of incentive to produce is the most common explanation for the failure of socialism. But back in the 1930s, Ludwig von Mises said that, even if we could breed a truly “socialistic” man who would instinctively always act with the greater good in mind, even if we could do that–socialism still would not work because “there is no means to calculate.” In other words, there are no market prices to use to allocate scarce resources among insatiable desires.
Coincidentally, years later (right after the collapse of the Soviet Union) a former student of mine went to Russia on a government assignment (USAID, I think) to “help.” They were showing him all the elaborate econometric systems of multivariate equations they used to centrally plan thir economy. When he inquired as to where they got their price data, you will never guess what they told him–The Wall Street Journal.
Never ever get the idea that you are smarter than the free market and always remember, you can, indeed, replace the middle man. However. you can NEVER replace his function. Either you are going to have to provide for marketing yourself (which includes advertising, transportation, storage and merchandising) or pay a third party to do it for you.
For the food movement to achieve its aims, modern agriculture must cease to exist.
A recent Forbes article by Rich Karlgaard explains why effective teams are inherently small, whether it’s in the military or in business. He cites a lot of science but makes the case that humans are wired in our short-term memory to hold or capture five to nine pieces of information. As an example of this thinking, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, espouses a “two-pizza” rule. If it requires more than two pizzas to feed a team, the team is too big.
Rich goes on to describe the mathematics of networks. He says that, with two members, there is one connection; with three members, there are three connections; four members equal six connections; and the numbers grow exponentially from there. With 16 members the connections grow to 256; and with 32 members, the connections rise to a staggering 1,024 connections.
Humans simply cannot handle that number of connections. That’s why, in most teams, people only typically keep up with five to six individuals. As the numbers grow, relationships quickly degrade. It’s also why socialism can only truly work on a very small scale – one in which all players are interconnected, buy fully into it and are willing to abide by its terms of shared sacrifice.
I think the food movement is hampered by such mathematics as well. If you happen to live in one of those amazingly unique environments like Southern California, you might be able to get fresh, locally grown, organic vegetables all 12 months of the year. But, if you live in Phoenix, Chicago or New York City, you’ll be eating a lot of the same old stale items.
The food movement has seen by its adherents as being “morally cleansing,” in part because it involves sacrifice, costs more, and isn’t feasible for the vast majority of Americans. By its nature, it’s truly only practical for a select few.
The irony is that its impracticality leads to a sense of superiority. We’ll likely never see the world change to more expensive and less abundant food supplies. Practicality, economics and science have a way of prevailing.
However, it’s important to remember that the leaders in the food movement understand that. They merely want to coerce the current system to bend to their ideology. And they’re enjoying some success. The solution that the advocates of the food movement pursue, despite the fact that like socialism, their “solution” has been proven not to be scalable, is to convince everyone that the problem isn’t the failure of the ideology, but the existence of an alternative.
For socialism to succeed, capitalism must be destroyed. And for the food movement to achieve its aims, modern agriculture must cease to exist.
The opinions of Troy Marshall are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com and the Penton Agriculture Group.
Murray N. Rothbard was the father of what some call Radical Libertarianism or Anarcho-Capitalism which Hans-Hermann Hoppe described as “Rothbard’s unique contribution to the rediscovery of property and property rights as the common foundation of both economics and political philosophy, and the systematic reconstruction and conceptual integration of modern, marginalist economics and natural-law political philosophy into a unified moral science: libertarianism.”
This book applies the principles of this “unified moral science” to environmental and natural resource management issues.
The book started out life as an assigned reading list for a university level course entitled Environmental and Natural Resource Economics: The Austrian View.
As I began to prepare to teach the course, I quickly saw that there was a plethora of textbooks suitable for universal level courses dealing with environmental and natural resource economics. The only problem was that they were all based in mainstream neo-classical (or Keynesian) theory. I could find no single collection of material comprising a comprehensive treatment of environmental and natural resource economics based on Austrian Economic Theory.
However, I was able to find a large number of essays, monographs, papers delivered at professional meetings and published from a multitude of sources. This book is the result. It is composed of a collection of research reports and essays by reputable scientists, economists, and legal experts as well as private property and free market activists.
The book is organized into seven parts: I. Environmentalism: The New State Religion; II. The New State Religion Debunked; III. Introduction to Environmental and Natural Resource Economics; IV. Interventionism: Law and Regulation; V. Pollution and Recycling; VI. Property Rights: Planning, Zoning and Eminent Domain; and VII. Free Market Conservation. It also includes an elaborate Bibliography, References and Recommended Reading section including an extensive Annotated Bibliography of related and works on the subject.
The intellectual level of the individual works ranges from quite scholarly to informed editorial opinion.