COVID-19 and the Planners’ Need to Plan
A few days ago, I received an email addressing the ongoing COVID-19 situation from the Wyoming State Bar, of which I am a member. Attached to the email was a thirty-page PDF entitled Wyoming Judicial Branch: Respiratory Disease Pandemic Plan. The stated purpose is as follows:
A pandemic event is distinct from other emergency scenarios such as tornados or floods because of the severity and longevity of a pandemic event. The purpose of this plan is to provide the Wyoming Judicial Branch with local guidelines, procedures, and directions to follow during all phases of a pandemic event.
Why, do you ask, does the judiciary of the most sparsely populated state in the Union need a thirty-page plan related to a virus which, until the day I received the email, had not yet been confirmed to exist in it?
Because Planners Must Plan
Planning is not necessarily problematic. In fact, a rational and organized anticipation of future events by an individual is neither uncommon nor unhealthy. A priori it would be impossible for an individual not to engage in some normal, human planning (with, you will note, the lowercase p). As Henry Hazlitt noted back in 1962,
Each of us, in his private capacity, is constantly planning for the future: what he will do the rest of today, the rest of the week or on the weekend; what he will do this month or next year. Some of us are planning, though in a more general way, ten or twenty years ahead. We are making these plans…in our capacity as consumers and as producers. Employees are either planning to stay where they are or to shift from one job to another, or from one company to another, or from one city to another, or even from one career to another. Entrepreneurs are either planning to stay in one location or to move to another, to expand or contract their operations, to stop making a product for which they think demand is dying and to start making one for which they think demand is going to grow.
On the individual level, you or I may believe that a certain individual plans too much or too little. I may perceive that person A is, like Aesop’s grasshopper, foolishly neglecting the future. You may suggest that person B is obsessing about contingencies. Or, as a Christian, I may try to follow Christ’s imperative to “not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” However, this is subjective personal preference. The problem is when planning becomes Planning. As Hazlitt continues,
Now the people who call themselves “Economic Planners” either ignore or by implication deny all this. They talk as if the world of private enterprise, the free market, supply, demand, and competition, were a world of chaos and anarchy, in which nobody ever planned ahead or looked ahead, but merely drifted or staggered along. I once engaged in a television debate with an eminent Planner in a high official position who implied that without his forecasts and guidance American business would be “flying blind.” At best, the Planners imply, the world of private enterprise is one in which everybody works or plans at cross purposes or makes his plans solely in his “private” interest rather than in the “public” interest. Now the Planner wants to substitute his own plan for the plans of everybody else. At best, he wants the government t
Article from Mises Wire