“Great”, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
Mike Cassady
41

It is not the “profit motive [that] decides how natural resources ought to be used to decide what to produce”, it is the cumulative effect of individual persons “decid[ing] what to believe by my own lights about what’s good for me”. It is the customers’ decisions what to buy that directs resources to those goods and services. It is the polar opposite of a command economy. The whole system is driven by the votes of the nation’s individuals, written on their dollars.

The success of a command economy during war is an unsustainable model in a time of peace. War aligns a whole society to a single idea: victory or submission. It provides a willingness among the citizenry to suspend personal freedoms and rights, to defer personal preferences or desires, for government to take or borrow property and use it for war materiel and war purposes.

But those conditions are exhaustible. They consume freedom and rights like a furnace consumes coal. That necessary acquiescence is a wasting resource, and eventually it will run scarce. Witness the failures of command economies in peacetime, and the necessity to keep them going by convincing the populace that they have enemies everywhere, that they are in a quasi-war.

The (temporary) successes of a command economy in wartime directed to victory cannot (in a free nation) be marshaled in peacetime and directed to victories of science and technology against national goals or solving problems. Not the least of the impediments is the diversity of opinions about which goals and which problems.

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