Daily Bread for 1.3.24: Hockey, Hayek, and Hope

 Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 34. Sunrise is 7:25 and sunset 4:33 for 9h 08m 11s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 54.9% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Library Board meets in closed session at 4:30 PM

On this day in 1777, General Washington defeats British General Lord Cornwallis at the Battle of Princeton.

Whitewater has had significant political activity throughout 2023, and the local Spring Election awaits the city in April. 

There’s more than one way to think about these changes, but political, economic, and social dynamism is common across America. It’s not merely common, but felicitously a source of our national strength, making us the envy of other peoples around the world.

A few remarks about hockey and Friedrich Hayek (not usually associated) explain much of Whitewater’s recent politics. 

Consider ice hockey, starting with the rink on which that game is played.  

By Jecowa at English Wikipedia. Public Domain,

Odd, isn’t it? Circles and lines across a sheet of ice, on a rink where those markings and the players skating in competition would seem incomprehensible to someone unfamiliar with the game.

And yet, and yet, for a little bit of time and willingness, someone can learn about hockey and enjoy watching or playing a game. Indeed, without markings on the ice, and rules of the game, there would be no National Hockey League. A few people might be on a few rinks, but those few would never unite into a profitable professional association. 

As it turns out, local governments have their own version of rules from federal & state statutes, local ordinances, and local policies those communities adopt as binding. In Whitewater, relevant & material statutes, ordinances, and policies are compiled (in significant part) in the city’s Good Government Manual and the CDA Rules of Procedure.  

A key point that cannot be emphasized enough: these federal and state statutes, city ordinances, and local policies pre-date the current city administration. They are not a new development. They always should have been, and now are, being read and applied as they were meant to be applied. They were years ago lawfully drafted and adopted. If their application has seemed alien to some in Whitewater, then it is because some have unfortunately become unfamiliar or uncomfortable with the lawful rules and procedures for this very town. 

To do otherwise would be to expect the equivalent of a hockey game where players follow no rules or different rules, crashing into each other and the boards. 

And look, and look — this libertarian blogger is not a member of the government and never will be. This libertarian blogger has never represented the government and never will. It is right, however, to follow the rules properly established at federal, state, and local levels until they are lawfully revised. 

Deprecation of these rules does not advance this city; it perpetuates backwardness. 

This brings us to Nobel laureate Friedrich Hayek. Hayek was an opponent of most state planning, and rightly so. He understood, however, that some level of preliminary planning (and this meant government planning) was necessary to make private success possible. His remarks on this point in The Road to Serfdom are oft-quoted:

Nor is “planning” a medicine which, taken in small doses, can produce the effects for which one might hope from its thoroughgoing application. Both competition and central direction become poor and inefficient tools if they are incomplete; they are alternative principles used to solve the same problem, and a mixture of the two means that neither will really work and that the result will be worse than if either system had been consistently relied upon. Or, to express it differently, planning and competition can be combined only by planning for competition but not by planning against competition.

It is of the utmost importance to the argument of this book for the reader to keep in mind that the planning against which all our criticism is directed is solely the planning against competition the planning which is to be substituted tuted for competition. This is the more important, as we cannot, within the scope of this book, enter into a discussion of the very necessary planning which is required to make competition as effective and beneficial as possible. But as in current usage “planning” has become almost synonymous with the former kind of planning, it will sometimes be inevitable for the sake of brevity to refer to it simply as planning, even though this means leaving to our opponents a very good word meriting a better fate.

(Emphasis added.) 

F.A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom 89 (The Collected Works of F. A. Hayek, Volume 2 ed. 2007).

Government’s orderly planning, including the application of established policies, makes government responsible. It also leaves government in its proper, limited place. 

Hope for a better future is not only — and not principally — to be found within the walls of city hall. 312 W. Whitewater Street is merely one address in this city. Whitewater is a city of fifteen thousand, not fifteen. Whitewater’s many private needs will not be met through fights among government men or recriminations among them. 

The purpose of a well-regulated government, like a well-regulated militia, is (and must be) to protect the flourishing of private life. 

There is much that must be accomplished in this regard. See Waiting for Whitewater’s Dorothy Day, Something Transcendent, and in the MeantimeAn Oasis Strategy, The Community Space, People Bring Color. From Government, Failure is Both Loss and Distraction, and The Shape of Decline to Come (and How to Carry On).

Hope comes privately and stays privately. She’s more likely to arrive, and more likely to stay, in a city of rules-based limited government.

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