Free Markets vs Central Planning

A lot of the ideological fights that we have these days have to do with approaches to solve problems.  Health care is a classic example.  Obamacare is socialized medicine.  One massive directive applied to everyone.  The Republican alternative as put forth by Representative Paul Ryan was the opposite.  It was a free market approach.

After two years in office, it’s clear that Obama is a “statist” President. His approach to leadership is to dictate and have people obey.  If they don’t, he uses sticks to get them to obey.

I always find it instructive to see what great leaders say about leadership.  America has been blessed with many great leaders in business, the armed forces and in government.  The best ones have used a free market approach to leadership.  That is, they had a clear idea of where they wanted to go.  They put that idea out there.  Then, they gave control to the people that worked for them to innovate and accomplish the task.  Here is what some of them had to say about leadership.

George S. Patton-Don’t tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.

Dwight D. Eisenhower-Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.  And, “You don’t lead by hitting people over the head, that’s assault, not leadership.”

Theodore Roosevelt-The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done and the self restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.

In history, the most sustaining and successful organizations have taken this idealogical approach to leadership.  Even if the organization has a strong central leader, like Apple, the culture within the organization encourages entrepreneurial free markets to get the job done.

It gets more interesting when other events and movements are looked at.

Everyone is familiar with Mardi Gras in New Orleans.  No doubt, the debauchery of Fat Tuesday gets all the headlines.  However, did you know that there is no central planning for Mardi Gras at all?  The City of New Orleans doesn’t spend a penny promoting it.  No companies sponsor it.  By tradition and law, parades cannot be sponsored by companies.  There is no official Mardi Gras poster or merchandise.  Free enterprise is king!  The New Orleans Police Department issues parade permits, but there is no overall central authority that coordinates the 60 or so different parades. Each is completely autonomous.

Mardi Gras is an example of a free market celebration!

The Tea Party is similar to a Mardi Gras.  It’s a Mardi Gras of opinion formed around one central idea, limited government and the power of the individual over the state. No central leader, it is a completely grass roots movement.  Each person that identifies with the movement can be an entrepreneur, figuring out new ways to connect and expand it.  Instead of a direct line to an ultimate goal, the amoeba floats and morphs to the ultimate goal of limited government.

It’s not as elegant as the elites would like, but watching it evolve is beautiful just the same.