Home Economics A Detailed Example Of Why Planned Economies Are Always Entire Poo Poo

A Detailed Example Of Why Planned Economies Are Always Entire Poo Poo



That the coronavirus means that certain modes of making a living are no longer viable is one of those sad truths of our current situation. Some folks just are going to have to work out new ways of putting those three squares on the table. That lass running the £1 for a kiss booth at the fair just is going to have to do something a little more socially distanced.

There are those who think this is all a terrible shame and they could even be right:

I feel especially gutted for friends in music and nightlife. An entire industry seems to have been discarded by a government unable to recognise its worth to our cultural and social survival. The chancellor’s advice to retrain and find a new job, as if most artists don’t already hold down another gig to fulfil their passion projects, would sting even if there were jobs to retrain for. To launch an inept national careers service alongside it is just painful.

Gutted, yes, but the aim after than empathy has to be to work out the best system of finding out what instead.

Sidenote: I took the national skills and careers assessment to see what I might be eligible for after spending all my working career in journalism and it told me I was best off retraining as a fairground worker. I mean, I guess the hours are unsociable, the industry is in decline and there are a lot of cheap thrills to be had, so maybe it is a fun house mirror of newspapers?

It’s more convincing than telling a successful DJ friend to consider taking up boxing (true) and an actor friend to make a career in microbrewing (also true).

I too, in a spirit of research, took the test and took it seriously. The results:

Hmm. So, in a working life I’ve been a waiter and bartender. No, for more than just uni vacs, also I was rather good at doing both. I’ve also been a marketeer. A producer of computer games. A distributor of English newspapers in foreign. A trader – wholesaler – in weird metals. A journalist, perhaps polemicist is a better description.

Some of those I was rather good at. Some were just passing circumstances. What no one at all has suggested is that I should get into the actual doing stuff end of computing. Because anyone and everyone who has ever observed me for more than an instant knows that I am and would be terrible at such.

Yea, even though my first job actually working on computers was in 1985 – Lotus 123 V 1.0 on an IBM XT I think. That day my machine was upgraded to 640kb of RAM was a red letter one. 35 years later I would still find it difficult to save a file to external disk rather than whatever place it currently puts stuff. I do not know how to resize a picture on this ‘ere machine. I cannot set up an Excel – or any other – spreadsheet. No, quite literally, I cannot do that. Getting it to add three numbers according to some function is beyond me.

The government thinks I would do well in the bit of computing that actually designs and does stuff. The government is insane.

Which is, of course why any and every planned economy always does end up deep in the ordure in double quick time. Governments never do, or even can, know enough to do the planning.

As a test of the contention, see what government would allocate you as a job given the knowledge you provide them by taking that test…..



  1. Funny thing this points out. As has been noted here before, when you read an article about a topic you’re deeply familiar with (perhaps an expert on) you don’t usually finish with the idea “Wow, they really nailed that, distilled the key points and made it intelligible for just about anyone”. Rather, it’s more like “Jeebus they’ve made a hash of that”. But then you move on to read an article about a subject you’re not familiar with and assume the author is going to get it right.

    Likewise, lefties will complain about how crappy the gov’t does something, as above, and immediately move on to insisting that we have the gov’t run more of our lives.

  2. Well, I had 198 different roles suggested for me. So it’s no surprise that some of them came close to what I have actually, fairly successfully, done for a living over the past 35 years. On the other hand, I also had “hairdresser” (after answering ‘are you comfortable with dealing with other peoples’ feelings in sensitive areas’, “No”), “horse groom” and checkout assistance. So it’s about as much use as opening the printed version of “Standard Occupational Codes” at a random page and wondering whether any of those would be right for you.

  3. @Estaban: It’s known as Gell-Mann Amnesia, although it has nothing to do with the physicist Murray Gell-Mann and was invented by Michael Chrichton.

  4. The questions are *all* about personality and *none* about talents and abilities. So designed by an Arts graduate who still believes in the “Transferability of Skills” that I dismissed as rubbish sixty years ago. Among the twenty-eight different jobs that I could do in the “Business and Finance” category were two out of the three that I have done but since they are listing the large majority of jobs in that category that is no great achievement (and they omitted the one that I wanted to do but missed out on after a competitive interview).
    For avoidance of doubt I did observe they asked whether I was happy dealing with elementary maths – but they didn’t ask whether I was any good at it!
    This programme will put people in jobs that make them content with their lot but not into the jobs that they can do well.

  5. There’s (sadly) going to be a lot of restaurants closing. But what’s the shelf-life of a restaurant? A few years for most of the country, a few months in London – the ones that keep going for decades are a happy exception. And when the virus is behind us, and life returns to a semblance of normality, the demand for restaurants will resume, and many will reopen – possibly under new ownership, and maybe in not quite the same locations.

    Ditto theatres and concert halls.

  6. My skills are the bit of computing that actually designs and does stuff. The government told me I should be working in: Travel and tourism, Animal care, Delivery and storage.

    Just as crap as my Careers Advice Teacher at school back in the ’80s.
    “I’ve been designing and building computer hardware and software since I was 12, I’m really good at it and like it.”
    “Local Government Administration.”

  7. Me = retired train driver – Assessment 2nd suggestion was ‘Travel Agency Manager’, so at least it got part of it right…..

    I wonder where all these job vacancies are by the way?

  8. Seems an arse about face way of doing something. Strategy that’s worked for me for better than 40 years is look about for something people want & aren’t getting. Learn to provide it. Flog it to them. Watch the money rolling in. There is nothing you can’t learn if you put your mind to it. Unless you’re a Cambridge University graduate, of course.


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expunct (ɪkˈspʌŋkt)
VERB (transitive)
1. to delete or erase; blot out; obliterate
2. to wipe out or destroy

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