“no planned economy” vs. deregulation

Recognizing the impossibility of planned economies does not require advocating deregulation. This is first of all clear from the terms: “a planned economy” presupposes that there is “an economy” as a quasi-organic or at least intelligible whole while regulation needs to assume no such thing. Again, planned economies are fair only on some theories of justice while regulation is necessary on any theory. For Americans, the terms are also significant since the Constitution makes no reference to “the economy” while it marks out areas for regulation.

The easy slide from “no planned economy” to “deregulation” skips over why one would deregulate at all. Adam Smith had a clear vision of the world he was shooting for in a free market: maximized competition in order to cultivate the virtues of moderation, foresight, creativity, etc. But maximizing competition is something that requires a great deal of oversight, insight, and intervention. Just glance at the power and extent of Olympic regulatory agencies.

Free markets are competitive, but there’s an infinite distance between judges and referees allowing persons to compete with each other and the same judges announcing “Anything goes!” The point is not to caricature positions but to suggest that the analogy between fair competition in markets and sports suggests that fair markets require a massive amount of what will seem to everybody as invasive meddling.



  1. semioticanimal said,

    January 9, 2016 at 11:57 am

    An objection:
    A thing may be regulated in two ways extrinsically, as a man regulates the growth of a plant, and intrinsically, as the soul regulates the body.
    The analogy holds for an extrinsic regulation as with the Olympics. However, advocates of the free market do not deny the need for regulation but extrinsic regulation.
    The free market is thought to be sufficiently self regulating. The free market is more akin to street ball. If you do not play by the rules, we will not play with you. Hence it is not deregulation in the sense of anything goes, but rather the absence of extrinsic regulation since the market is sufficient in determining what goes and excluding those who violate the rules.

    • obscure said,

      January 9, 2016 at 12:04 pm

      It seems to me that you’re not talking about a market, but of a society of which a market is a part. Is the market the part of the society which lays the paradigm then? I suppose that that is what is implied.

    • January 9, 2016 at 1:54 pm

      Here’s some responses:

      1.) Distinguishing these sorts of order suffices to show at best that intrinsic order does not need extrinsic order under normal working conditions. The intrinsic order of the body does not do away with its need for hospitals, doctors, surgeons, etc..

      2a.) This distinction requires that the intrinsic order means more than “the market ostracizes those who don’t play by the rules” since even thieves do that. IOW, some sorts of intrinsic order are in profound need of extrinsic order.

      2b.) Why assume that the intrinsic order of the market suffices to make it just? Assuming it does is naïve, assuming it doesn’t makes the extrinsic order necessary.

      2c.) Why not declare by fiat that government regulation just is part of the intrinsic order of the market? Government usually coins the money, after all.

      3.) I see no evidence that relationships governed by money in a market setting should be different from those in athletics, if only because professional athletics itself is an instance of relationships governed by money in a market setting.

      4.) Markets might be independent of extrinsic regulation in the same way that a referee is not an extrinsic regulation on what play gets called or executed. The coach and the players suffice to call it and execute it. But then all the argument comes to is that the need for a ref does not arise according to this consideration.

      5.) All sorts of intrinsic order depend on extrinsic order. The breathing of a scuba diver or a fish in a bowl, for example.

  2. Tony said,

    January 9, 2016 at 8:00 pm

    A thing may be regulated in two ways extrinsically, as a man regulates the growth of a plant, and intrinsically, as the soul regulates the body.

    A “thing” can be said to be intrinsically regulated properly speaking only when the thing is a natural substance with an internal ordering principle – i.e. a soul – such as is said of organic wholes. This belongs to things that have “a nature” properly speaking. It is said imperfectly and “in a manner of speaking” with “things” that are not really things properly speaking because they are, rather, collections and conglomerates of organic wholes, and have no intrinsic ordering principle.

    Now something like “society” has a quasi-wholeness, and thus a quasi-regulating order, because men in society have a nature, and that nature inclines them toward society. But it is not of the same taut intrinsic ordering principle as for within a man, because (for example) a man can leave one society and become a member of another society freely; and because there are gray borders to the edges of what is “in” a society and what is not.

    Something like “the market” has even less of an organic wholeness than “the society”, because the market is itself ordered to goods extrinsic to the market, i.e. to the welfare of men, even men who do not participate in the market as contributors (babies, the handicapped, the elderly). The market is inherently only a part of “the society” and can never be fully formulated otherwise than as a part of a larger whole. Thus it cannot be wholly self-regulating.

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