In order to explain how a socialist society would fail on the calculation issue, Mises used the example of a central planner trying to decide how to build a railroad between A and B.
Mises supposed that a mountain interrupted the path between A and B, “The railroad can be made to run over the mountain, around the mountain, or, by way of a tunnel, through the mountain. In a capitalist society, it is a very easy matter to compute which line will prove the most profitable. One ascertains the cost involved in constructing each of the three lines and the differences in operating costs necessarily incurred by the anticipated traffic on each. From these quantities it is not difficult to determine which stretch of road will be the most profitable. A socialist society could not make such calculations.”
In Ohio, US Rep. Kaptur skipped the lesson from Mises. Instead, she sees a body of water (Lake Erie) and envisions a high-speed rail tunnel going under it. A tunnel that would “increase commerce and give an economic lift to the heartland.”
For Kaptur, the only calculation is political: how will she profit by boondoggling a piece of Obama’s proposed $53 billion nationwide high-speed rail network for her district?
See, when it’s not your money, the socialist calculation issue simply goes away.