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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/6512/socialist-calculation-versus-magical-monsters/

Socialist Calculation versus Magical Monsters

April 13, 2007 by

My friend, not exactly a libertarian but not a socialist (pro-market, anti-war, anti-cop) — okay, pretty libertarian, actually — thinks that if the US government, for the last 40 years, had spent nothing on war or welfare or anything else, but retained the same tax schedules, it would have been able to fund the creation of a dragon.

Yes, a dragon. As in a large flying nearly reptilian beast that breathes fire.

Aside from some limits of socialist calculation, he has a point. Maybe even with government inefficiency taken for granted, he might be onto something.The genetic and mechanical engineering and research could have been advanced if, starting with the moon landing, the feds ditched all other endeavors and focused on creating a dragon.

What do you think? For trillions of bucks in today’s dollars, could we have a dragon? I think so.

Would it be a more libertarian expenditure than most things the government spends money on? Surely.

Would it be a _cooler_ thing to spend money on than what the government has spent money on instead? Most certainly.

My friend, I believe, has stumbled upon a brilliant insight that would make Bastiat proud. For all this welfare-warfare spending, the feds could have made a dragon by now. The unseen cost of socialism and militarism in the American experience has been a dragon.

With a dragon, no country would mess with us, because we have a dragon.

We would again be the envy of the world.

I think the Islamo-fascists would have to agree, even, that there must be something to the American way of life that we could produce a dragon whereas all their jihadist war prayers and theocratic socialism continue to yield nothing so spectacular.

A dragon, I think, could have been made by the federal government, but probably would have not been made on the free market.

Would this be an example of true market failure? (There’s a fallacy by which people argue that a given magical item or practice can keep dragons away; all they do is say: “See! No dragons! It must work.” I say this supposedly humorous fallacy is actually a pearl of wisdom in disguise. It is lavish, misprioritized spending and market economics that keep the dragons away, and not so mystically or mysteriously. Only a redirection of government spending could produce a dragon, which should not be seen as inimical, but rather as a social good — or, at least, very, very cool.)


Axel Riemer April 13, 2007 at 1:08 pm

Taking the dragon in other context, I am thankful the state hasn’t the ability to completely focus their effort on a single goal and marshal their resources to that effect. Think of the dragons (as in horrifying monsters) that we have avoided.

Are our current monsters really monsters, or are they simply boogiemen

Matt April 13, 2007 at 2:37 pm

Of course, the next logical step is a dragon army.

Axel Riemer April 13, 2007 at 4:55 pm

Heh… dragoon army…

I think I meant bogeymen. Hard to see them doing the boogie.

Nerdy Austrian April 13, 2007 at 7:40 pm

I wouldn’t worry too much about the dragon army. To get a decent size, say a young adult (CR 9+), takes at least 50 years after hatching. The military-industrial-alchemical complex isn’t patient enough for their hit dice to get that high.

Brainpolice April 13, 2007 at 7:44 pm

Ha. I too thought of Dungeons and Dragons right away.

Chico Lama April 15, 2007 at 1:30 pm

this was very very funny

Michael Woods April 16, 2007 at 8:00 am

Methinks the Chinese would be very jealous indeed if we succeeded in actually creating their NATIONAL mascot before they did. I believe we would have a rapid Dragon-escalation on our hands, as they sought to fill in the Dragon gap, and the National Review/Weekly Standard started harping about our need to maintain clear Dragon superiority with new technology (DOUBLE-headed dragons anyone? Double Dragon?).

And what if some terrorist organization got a hold of some small dragon egg or baby dragon and smuggled it over our border? Can you imagine the damage a loose dragon could make if released in a downtown area? (alternatively, a few dragons patrolling the border might be a quick if drastic end to the border issue, though I’m not sure Amnesty International would be too happy.)

But without a doubt, the greatest benefit would be checkmating the Greens, as they would be forced to choose between killing an endangered species (at least until we have a few hundred thousand dragons out and about and breeding healthily) or accepting global warming via dragon fire breath.

Brian Drake August 21, 2007 at 11:12 am

I hate to nitpick, but… I am a libertarian (pro-market, anti-war), but I do not describe myself as anti-cop. I am actually pro-cop, assuming those cops are privately employed. If not, then I am inclined to look at government officers as future private security officers.

Chris May 1, 2009 at 2:04 pm

Does the fallacy mentioned at the end of the post have a name (like Gambler’s Fallacy or Broken Window Fallacy)?

Michael May 1, 2009 at 2:06 pm

Scientific advancements more important than dragons:

1. lightsabers.
2. gills… human gills.
3. neural implants a la The Matrix.
4. transporters a la Star Trek.
5. flying cars.

As for defense dragons for national security, let me just say AT-ATs.

GG May 1, 2009 at 2:15 pm

I think what the Austrian means is, its Tarrasque time

Rebeccainyourdream May 1, 2009 at 2:58 pm

LOL! Well thought, well written, well said!

shielded117 May 2, 2009 at 8:08 am


I think I would modify that list slightly, or at least add on to it…

6. Teleportation
7. Mecha

Now, more seriously, could we look at the dragon as our wars and welfare, something we really don’t need, but a lot of of people (though perhaps not the majority) went ahead and got it because it sounded cool (though a dragon would be cool).

Bert Zamichow May 2, 2009 at 3:35 pm

“could we look at the dragon as our wars and welfare, something we really don’t need…”

was that the point? or was it to look at the dragon as the staggering opportunity cost, the amazing human achievements that have gone undone, the unknowable opportunity cost of the wars and welfare and general malinvestment?

great piece either way. had me cracking up.

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