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The Logisitics of Private vs Public

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09/18/2005

From the Washington Post:

In Brookhaven, Miss., for example, where Wal-Mart operates a vast distribution center, the company had 45 trucks full of goods loaded and ready for delivery before Katrina made landfall. To keep operating near capacity, Wal-Mart secured a special line at a nearby gas station to ensure that its employees could make it to work.

Imagine that. Then.....imagine planning well enough to insure that your business continues to smoothly operate? Nowhere does Big Government accomplish this. This brings to mind the "fatal conceit" as defined by Hayek: the notion that "man is able to shape the world around him according to his wishes."

No technocratic planning, via the State, can plan or arrange a complex society in which so many forces must interact in a cooperative sense, wherein all parties to voluntary processes become beneficiaries as per their respective subjective valuations. A natural disaster such as Katrina begets a massive influx of mutually beneficial exchanges at the individual or family level, and such a voluntary society is further assisted by larger groups or corporations that have the manpower and money to either supply the necessary needs at market prices, or donate to a relief effort out of sheer goodwill. Or, as in Wal-Mart's case, the gain may be the further enhancement of the corporation's reputation at a time when the company is perpetually attacked for myriad reasons, both right (eminent domain issues) and wrong (most everything else).

Above that, private corporations intervene in such a way so as to provide leadership, goods/services, and logistical assistance to those in need. Typically, such corporations develop a hierarchy in which the information flows, allowing for more timely and more efficient disaster support. Surely, the top man on the Board is not holding meetings with cronies or special interest groups, looking for the best publicity, or the most political gain. You can bet that a whole stream of Wal-Mart employess, all over the country, are employed solely in the capacity of leading and directing this relief effort on the part of the corporation.

Meanwhile, in Washington, bureaucrats bungle the whole relief effort, and not because they did too little, but because they have done enough. Private enterprise, in this relief effort, will certainly not be perfect, but then again, all good stories that come from Louisiana are centered on volunteer cooperatives, groups, and associations; private business; and individual, voluntary donations of money, time, services, and the like.

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