Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
Sign in to follow this  
Gus Van Horn blog

Reblogged:Central Planning Is Unsophisticated: An Analogy

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

Florent Crivello, a product manager at Uber, writes a thought-provoking blog post titled, "The Efficiency-Destroying Magic of Tidying Up." Therein, he argues that many attempts to impose order on complex, self-ordering systems, are made out of great ignorance.

His piece also proposes the following amusing analogy for urban "planners" who fall into what he calls the "high modernist" fallacy, following James Scott's Seeing Like a State. That is, they mistake complexity for chaos:

pizza.jpg
Image by Brett Jordan, via Unsplash, license.
[T]his insight applies to any complex system. For example, a city can look as messy as an anthill. But really, it's a beautiful equilibrium that evolved to satisfy a thousand competing constraints: topology, weather, people's traditions, skills, wealth, preferences ... Planners may make their maps look better when they use zoning to separate the city into business, residential, and commercial neighborhoods, but they also destroy a subtle, efficient balance. They forget that the only activity that goes on in any city is that of people living their lives, which requires all the activities above -- preferably in close proximity. Splitting a city into residential, commercial and business zones is like throwing dough, cheese and pepperoni into the different compartments of a bento box and calling it a pizza.
Crivello's argument reminds me a little of one made against central (government) planning by the economist George Reismann, but from a different angle:
The overwhelming majority of people have not realized that all the thinking and planning about their economic activities that they perform in their capacity as individuals actually is economic planning. By the same token, the term "planning" has been reserved for the feeble efforts of a comparative handful of government officials, who, having prohibited the planning of everyone else, presume to substitute their knowledge and intelligence for the knowledge and intelligence of tens of millions, and to call that planning. (as quoted in Andrew Bernstein's Capitalist Manifesto, p. 345) [bold added]
I love the pizza-bento box analogy, and think it is a great way to condense the idea that something complex -- or even messy-looking -- can indeed possess an exquisite and graspable order beyond what meets the eye.

-- CAV

Link to Original

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...