Acton Institute Powerblog

QOTD: Why economics matters

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The control of wealth is the control over human life. So if a centrally planned economy decides how wealth is to be created and how it is to be distributed, then they really have a control over human life.

That’s from Arnold Beichman, the journalist and scholar, who died Feb. 17 at the age of 96. The Heritage Foundation InsiderOnline Blog retrieved the quote from a 2004 article in a Columbia College alumni magazine. There was also this:

Centrally planned societies, Beichman says, are essentially fascist. “Even with computers, you can’t plan, because the human being does not allow himself to be planned. Today he smokes cigarettes; tomorrow he’s off cigarettes. How do you plan for that? Today he drinks vodka, tomorrow he drinks white wine. How do you plan for that? … It’s the open, the market society, that will determine what is made and what is sold and what is bought.”

John Couretas John Couretas is Director of Communications, responsible for print and online communications at the Acton Institute. He has more than 20 years of experience in news and publishing fields. He has worked as a staff writer on newspapers and magazines, covering business and government. John holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in the Humanities from Michigan State University and a Master of Science Degree in Journalism from Northwestern University.


  • These comments illustrate quite nicely why and how the anthropological doctrine of free choice is so critical in its implications for a proper understanding of the market economy.

  • I recall a similar quote heading a chapter in Hayek’s Road to Serfdom, attributed, I think, to Stalin.
    If one considers the centrally orchestrated decline in the US and World economies, with attendant unemployment and necessary dependence on government (centralized)unemployment, then a variety of concepts for government mischief come to mind.

    I’ve enjoyed Ayn Rand, not for her depiction of virtue, but her detailed analysis of economic evil.