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Labor Economics in a Planned Economy: F. A. Hayek and John Jewkes on the Impossibility of Democratic Socialism

Makovi, Michael (2016): Labor Economics in a Planned Economy: F. A. Hayek and John Jewkes on the Impossibility of Democratic Socialism.

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Abstract

Milton Friedman (1962) is associated with the claim that political and economic freedom cannot be distinguished (cf. Lawson and Clark 2010), using the famous example that there can be no freedom of speech where the government owns the printing presses. Less well-known is F. A. Hayek's example, drawn from labor economics, used to illustrate the same principle. Hayek was joined in this by his less well-known colleague, John Jewkes. Hayek and Jewkes argued that without a freely operating price system, central economic planning cannot function without compulsory regimentation of labor. Similarly, no state may simultaneously fix “fair” wages and demand a given pattern of productive output and employment. It is impossible to both achieve income equality and accomplish an economic plan. Hayek's and Jewkes's examples help explain why democratic socialism is impossible, in the sense that it cannot accomplish what its advocates desire.

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