Wednesday, August 27, 2008

When Politicians Want to Make the World Over According to a Plan...

Michelle Obama to Democrats: 'Fight for the world as it should be' -- Now I am not one for listening to or reading what political wives have to say. They weren't elected to office, and are just another person with a opinion. Usually a biased opinion. But this headline, and the quote, (which I freely admit I did not listen to or read in its context) is disturbing.

Change is inevitable. To be alive is to change. Institutions, societies and people change. But societies change in ways we can't always predict. When the changes are dictated through the political system, under the point of a bayonet, and make no mistake, every change mandated by government is always backed up with the threat of force, those changes don't usually work out too well.

Stalin had a plan for agricultural cooperatives in the Ukraine. He instituted that plan with the force of the Soviet Army. Seven million Ukrainians died in the Holodomor before he was through.

Mao had many plans for the PRC: The Cultural Revolution. The Great Leap Forward. The Secret Famine. In all, Mao killed as many as 76 million Chinese creating a China the way he thought it "should be."

There are many examples of people with a plan. Mugabe in Zimbabwe comes to mind. People are now starving in what is relatively fertile land, but the land has been redivided according to the plan. In this country, leading change according to the centralized plan has lead to such things as The Indian Removal Act of 1830, or US Grant's General Order 11. I'm sure you can think of other examples.

Freedom does not demand that change be dictated from the leaders of the party. Free speech is not speech that is government approved. Free markets are not controlled by bureaucrats. Freedom depends on each individual making choices that help them. It doesn't always work out for the best, but it works better than any alternative history has presented for our study.

So when party spokesmen and women start talking about redefining society according to their plan, I start to worry about what they are planning. No one plans to be a monster, or start a famine, not usually. Usually they start out trying to make things better; they start with good intentions. True monsters are rare, but the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, and well intentioned plans.

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