Friday, July 04, 2003

The thing about socialism is that its destructiveness just goes on and on. Even the most cursory look at the environmental disasters, one after the other, in the ex-Soviet Bloc countries, will tell you that. And the horrific residual environmental damage in the former Soviet bloc is paralleled by the even greater residual social damage. Reading this story today, in 2003, is simply maddening. No matter what your feelings on the subject are, the thought of someone having 16 abortions--and during the Soviet era I remember reading it was not uncommon for women to have 40 or more over a lifetime--is just nuts. It's insane.

But it's a product, as so much else, of the unintended consequences of the planned and regulated economy. In the socialist command economy, consumer products are turned out to meet established government quota, not consumer demand. And in the absence of consumer demand that shapes and defines the market, the producers will simply turn out product in the most convenient way possible. P.J. O'Rourke loves to tell the story about the Soviet shoe factory that turned out its annual production quota of 500,000 shoes on time and within budget: 500,000 size 9 men's right shoes.

In this case Soviet production of birth control devices was up to their usual atrocious standards, and as the article indicates, whatever birth control devices did actually reach the public were painful and unpleasant to use. So, abortion became the primary form of birth control in a nation of hundreds of millions. And, going on 15 years later, that awful culture is still there. No matter what your feelings are on the subject of abortion, 60 percent of all pregnancies ending in abortion is a disaster, an absolute catastrophic social failure on every level.

My point here is not to attack abortion (though I am pro-life), it's simply to point out that central planning always, always creates unintended consequences, usually enormously destructive ones. And to see--for example--the EU moving continually in the direction of ever greater central control of economic production is disheartening and scary.

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