Friday, February 29, 2008

Lysenkoism and Central Planning

It has been awhile since I explained why central planning is such a bad idea, and why the freedom of the free market is such a good idea--not to mention why the diversification of decision making (federalism) is such a good idea.  This also explains why I OPPOSE big mergers, and think the government should stop them (to PROTECT the free market, and a diversity of decision makers, rather than interfere with it).

Lysenko was put in charge of Soviet biology and agriculture by Joseph Stalin.  In effect, the Soviet Uniton decided, as a matter of central planning, that Lysenkoism is the correct view of genetics.  Problem:  Lysenkoism is FALSE.

Baslically, Lyskenko's idea was that acquired  characteristics could be inherited.  That means that you could environmentally "coach" both crops and people into the desired characteristics, and have those characteristics carried on into succeeding generaations.

Remember Mendel and Darwin?  Darwin was, of course, the originatior of the theory of evolution.  That theory is more accurately known as the theory of natural selection.  Mendel was the first, basically, to propose the idea of GENETICS--that there are genes for fundamental characteristics passed down from generation to generation.  Natural selecton, of course, acts through genes (which, in turn, are contained in DNA, and occasionally altered by mutation). 

The idea of natural selection, and genetics, is that characteristics that better enable an organism to survive and prosper are SELECTED for, because the genes of organisms that are successful do not get passed on (the organisms die without reproducing).  This is the "survival of the fittest" idea of Darwinism. 

You can see why Darwin and Mendel MIGHT not appeal to Communists, and why the idea of acquired characteristics (from the "right" environment) might appeal to Communists.  Darwin's theory of natural selection can be analogized to the supposed dog-eat-dog world of capitalism and free market theory--the idea being that those better able to succeed do succeed, while the "unfit" do not survive.  "Social Darwinism" is the "theory" developed along those lines.  Meanwhile, Communism stands for the idea that people can be TRAINED for desirable characteristics.  Look how it would validate that idea to have training passed on to future generations.

Problem for Lysenko and Stalin:  Lysenkoism is wrong, and natural selection/genetic theory is right.   In agriculture, that means that hybrids designed to favor deseriable genes WORK.  In animal husbandry, you can BREED for characteristics.  You can do the same thing in agriculture, and it is what farmers in the United States did. 

Meanwhile, Lysenko DESTROYED Soviet agriculture.  It is probably not an exaggeration that this KILLED millions of people (they starved).  Imosing the political agenda of today's environmentalists has the potential to do the same thing.

The first lesson of Lysenkoism, of course, is that it is absolute disaster to let a political agenda overwhelm the actual, skeptical PROCESS of science (as radical environmentists have done, and are doing, including with "global warming").  However, that is not the fundamental lesson.

The fundamental lesson is that CENTRAL PLANNING is a recipe for disaster.  By the time of Lysenko, it was probably too late to really dispute Darwin and Mendel in agriculture.  In other words, Lysenko should have known better.  Nevertheless, Lysenko COULD have been right.  The problem is that IMPOSING his ideas, by central planning, on everyone destroyed Soviet agriculture for a generation and STARVED people.  As "global warming" fanatics want to do, Lysenko was able to declare the matter "settled" (backed up by Stalin).  What if putting too much government emphasis on biofuels results in people starving?  What if pushing compact florescent bulbs too hard results in disregarding BETTER approaches to saving energy in lighting?  But this is not just a matter of politics and science.

The problem is IMPOSING one solution from on high.  The beauty of the free market is that many individual decision makers take different approaches, and the ones which WORK best succeed.   For an entity like the Federal Government to simply DECIDE which approach is best is directly the main EVIL of Lysenkoism.  It is not that the "central planning" solution is automatically going to be wrong.  But it WILL be wrong at least some of the time.  Every time it is wrong, you get the Lysenko problem--disaster that continues for an unconscionable period of time.

Let us segue to federalism.  The idea of the United States is that the free market is the first, best option.  That is because it provides a maximum amount offreedom and a maximum number od decision makers.  Bad decisions are self-correcting, and QUICKLY (another problem with mergers is that they enable mistakes to be hidden, as huge, merged corporate bureaucracies continue failed "policies" until the whole house of cards can no longer stand--the Lysenko evil again).   The free market is the engine that has created prosperity in the United States.

The second option, unde our supposed system, is for decisions to be made at the most local level possible.  That means more decision makers, and easier correction.  The most local level is the one where people can most easily be held accountable for their decisions.

The third, and least desirable, option (to solve problems) under our supposed system is the Federal Government option.  This is the central planning option.  It is the least desirable option because of the Lysenko problem.  If the Federal solution is wrong, or simply no longer works, it is almost impossible to change.  People can't be held accountable.  The government entity is just too big.  There is just too much money being spent to keep track of it, and it is regarded as "free money" (since it is so remote from the average person, even though Federal money affects the life of every person in this countryTake health care.  California KILLED Arnold's universal health care program for fear (certainty?) it would bankrupt the state.  But Democrats have not even slowed down advocating the FEDERAL universal health care option, because that is perceived as "free money" (even thouhg California people are providing more than their share of that money). 

Massachusetts has been driven close to bankruptcy by that Romney health care plan.  Look at how much better off we are that ONLY MASSACHUSETTS is in trouble.  If adjustments need to be made, Massachusetts can make them MUCH more easily than the huge Federal Government.  This is EXACTLY the Lysenko problem.  Centralized solutions are hard to change, and impose the same solution on everyone.   State or local solutions can be constantly tweaked to fit local conditions.

What is wrong with 50 state "solutions" to health care.  Maybe some states can figure out how to make the free market work.  Maybe some will figure out a decent government plan for their state.  In any event, there will be MULTIPLE decision makers n thecountry, and we will not be putting all of our eggs in the basket of a single decision (like Stalin did with Lysenko).    The only role for the Federal Government is to simply try to provide minimal (not maximum) coordination of to avoid the various state plans from causing people moving from state to state fo fall through the cracks.

How can leftists look at what happened with Lysenko, and think the way they do?  How can leftists look at the failures of central planning thoroughout history and think the way they do?  The only explanation I have is that leftists don't think.  They react with emotion.  They want to show that they CARE, even if their preferred central planning "sollutions" to everything is a guarantee of DISASTER for the ordinary citizen--disaster as each wrong central planning soluton results in a Lysenko typoe DISASTER.  This is true even if most central planning decisions were correct (which contradicts history--central planning decisions are rarely totally correct, and yet almost impossible to adjust to correct the mistakes).

I have cited NASA as still another example.  The Space Shuttle was a technical marvel.  Yet it was a DEAD END for the U.S. space program.  Can anyone doubt that we would have been better off with MULTIPLE approaches to the space program?  Maybe we would not be in the position of trying to RETURN to the moon by 2020--meaning that it is ADMITTED that the Space Shuttle was a 50 year detour into  a dead end.  It is not that the NASA decision on the Space Shuttle was "wrong".  It is that it was a central planning deicions, putting all of the eggs in one basket.  Yes, I do understand that there was no alternative to NASA.  Private interests have simply not been able to move into manned space exploration.  However, I also believe that there is no doubt that space exploration will never really take off until we ARE able to have private interests--or at least multiple countries and groups--proceeding into space.   The MULTIPLE decision makers of the free market and/or fedrealism are ESSENTIAL to avoiding Lysenko dead ends.

Do leftists ever really defend this idea of COERCION and central planning?  Of course not.  They just forge ahead as if previous disasters, such as Lysenkoism and Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty, never happened.

Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.  For leftists, the problem is that they seem to WANT to repeat it, because they desire nothing more than for people to be dependent on them--no matter how bad it is for the people in the long run.


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