On The Importance of Central-Planning

I recently started a trade and was sitting at the construction site this morning ready to start, watching the other trades, and something occurred to me. It is also relevant to note that (perhaps ironically) I previously spent a few years as an underground (gold) miner.

Starting a trade and working what was basically my first (non-mining) construction site I’ve learned that the process involves a central-planner.

And I remember from mining that the central-planner aka the engineer (team) is never liked by the worker. You often here the work make fun of the engineer’s intelligence and reminiscing about ridiculous examples of “engineer stupidity”.

It occured to me today this is a necessary setup that creates this sentiment and I learned this from this trades-work-specifically from the process of changing something that the engineers laid out.

There are certain guidelines that must be followed accurately and then there are certain aspects of each trade that the trades worker can choose how they solve HOWEVER some of the solutions or necessary changes that are made sometimes MUST go through the engineer (or be communicated to the engineer).

This is not a matter of unjust hierarchy/tyranny but rather a process that evolved to be quite reasonable since each person specialized in their own trade is not also specialized in the other trades (usually and likely, and certainly not many or all) so it is not possible for them to judge the effects of such changes on the other trades.

It is then and therefore the engineer’s job and speciality as a generalist to be able to vet such changes in regard to the code specifications of each other trade and to communicate the changes to the other trades.

For this a central-planner is crucial and not at all the folly that Hayek points out when he explains the importance of decentralization:

If we can agree that the economic problem of society is mainly one of rapid adaptation to changes in the particular circumstances of time and place, it would seem to follow that the ultimate decisions must be left to the people who are familiar with these circumstances, who know directly of the relevant changes and of the resources immediately available to meet them. We cannot expect that this problem will be solved by first communicating all this knowledge to a central board which, after integrating all knowledge, issues its orders. We must solve it by some form of decentralization. But this answers only part of our problem. We need decentralization because only thus can we insure that the knowledge of the particular circumstances of time and place will be promptly used. But the “man on the spot” cannot decide solely on the basis of his limited but intimate knowledge of the facts of his immediate surroundings. There still remains the problem of communicating to him such further information as he needs to fit his decisions into the whole pattern of changes of the larger economic system.

This also speaks to something I have been writing about and extending my argument with, namely, that we are too stuck in dualistic thinking and this causes to to have binary and prejudice perspectives.

The idea that having a central-planner is bad or that it is an absurdity as a paradigm to explain how a good economy could be ordered is one that relates to the conflict between science and religion.

Religion tries to explain our existence and evolution as god’s intelligent design (a generalization of some religions). Hayek would seem to speak in contrast to this as does modern day biology that suggests a more simple and therefore proper theory would be we evolved though accidently (evolutionary) stability with no planner or foresight (God).

It is even more interesting I think then to think of the ancients and how their central-planning and engineering teams were in a hierarchy that was related to and intertwined with the gods that they worshipped.

Then I think a re-solving view and a more mature view is that central-planning is crucial IN SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIP with the individuals that hold the specialized information that Hayek notes is not otherwise attainable by any “Central Board”.

Going back to the construction setting you have a complex and evolved system in which central planning intelligently designs but based on certain looser plans that the decentralized workforce works with and brings feedback back to the planners in order that it may be propagated as changes arise and the project evolves.

It’s a critical role the central-planner plays and you couldn’t even build a single building if the role wasn’t there to coordinate the trades (let alone run an economy).

Note: I’m not at all sure this is in contrast to Hayek but it is certainly in contrast to the narrative of many Bitcoin’s maximalists notably and including Nick Szabo as I understand.




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