Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The Road to Serfdom

In the mid 1940's, as a result of WWII won with the use of centralized economic planning, many US citizens began to believe the centralized planning with a socialist bent was the more efficient way to go forth into the future. Today as we look for concerted action on Global Warming, conflated with a new search for economic justice, the popular thinking seems to be going in the same direction.

The idea that a benevolent bureaucracy elected by and responsive to the people could more efficiently direct society toward salvation, wellbeing, social equality, and morality than individuals pursuing their crass economic interest, is easy to buy into. But I lived through the destruction of industry and productivity in Italy during the mid 60's to mid 70's (lasting to this day) that birthed social democracy and included various experiments in many cities with socialist and communist administrations. To this day, economic opportunity, wellbeing, benevolent public bureaucracies are still to be found. With that history, I understood the warning that Nobel-Price Economist Friedrich Hayek offered in "The Road to Serfdom". 

His book and warning, however, would have been too academic, pedantic heavy-lifting for most readers. In a stroke of luck, the Reader's Digest, the most read magazine of that time (still barely available today in airports' bookstores) published a summarized version of it in April 1945. Millions read it, millions got the point, and America's short love with socialism ended at the ballot box. Most countries in Europe, at some point in the 40's to 90's flirted with the socialist experiment and with few exceptions still pay a high price with economic stagnation, bloated government bureaucracies and loss of their most educated and motivated citizens to other countries.

With this experience in mind, I publish here my extract of The Reader's Digest condensed version of The Road to Serfdom contained in the complete IEA publication below.

The complete version, with more background, introductory notes, references to publications of the time, etc as published by IEA is available HERE

iPhones and Androids have free apps that can read a pdf file to you. After you open the link above you can download the pdf and listen to it at your convenience.

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