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Comment Old stuff "discovered" by the ignorant (Score 5, Informative) 442

I am an economist. Economists have already extensively studied this kind of approach. It's called an Input/Output Model. Communist countries used it in their approach to central planning during the 1970's. It failed miserably for two reasons:

1) It assumes zero substitutability between inputs. E.g., to make a car you need exactly 1.35 tons of steel, 52.7 kg of rubber, 217 kg of glass, 1.73 KW of electricity, 29.4 hours of labor, etc. No other formula is possible, you can't use more energy and less labor, for instance. For reference, the production function is known as a Leontief production function. To be fair, adding any kind of substitutability between inputs results in a completely intractable problem. However, without substitutability this is a lousy way to actually model an economy.

2) It assumes perfect information on the part of the central planner. While this is an oft-used simplification in economic models, it's a lousy reflection of reality. It's simply impossible for a central planner to gather and correlate sufficient information to make it work.

Yet another piece-of-crap opinion article written by someone who couldn't be bothered to do an hour's research on Wikipedia.

Comment Consider a Spherical Cow (Score 5, Interesting) 442

Ecomonies are not a collection of processes all known. They are a collection of agents, mostly unknown with hidden internal states. Another way of saying this is that gathering information for centralization cost money. Economies process that information at many local and global levels and don't share it past the point of economic efficiency. That's in an idealized system. In an non-indeal system there's even wrong ideas.

A classic example of this is the maxim that the bad apples drive out the good apples. Meaning if you can't tell the difference between a good tasting apple and a bad tasting apple from the look (without tasting it) and if it costs less to produce a bad apple then the good apples won't sell as they are indistinguishable. In order to sell those apples you need to incur some cost. Do something that actually raises the price or lowers the profit like constitute an apple certification board, and set up a set of agents to test apples regularly for different farms, and persuade the consume your certification is valuable by giving away free taste demos. Otherwise there isn't information available to make a decision other than price. A similar thing occurs in how bad (debased) money drives the good (full gold) money out.

You can create systems to optimally manage agent based systems. Interesting there is work now that shows how denying information to consumers can increase econmoic efficiencies as well. This should come as no surprise to people familiar with Braes paradox in traffic control.

One of the core faults of communism is that while it can achieve some good results from linear programming notions of optimality is that it ignores that capitalist economies actually are information gathering systems that are very efficient).

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