We are all familiar with the argument stemming from over to our left - that politics really should be running life, the economy and society. For if people get to vote on what they want then that democratic economy and society will provide what it is that people say they want.
We've a number of problems with this, starting with the freedom and liberty argument. The minority, absent third party harm, should be allowed to live their lives as they wish absent those insistences of everyone else - the tyranny of the majority argument.
To leave such lofty logic aside, there's also how these things work out in practice. For it's important to note how politics does end up framing an issue and thus decisions about it. Take the idea of building upon brownfield or greenfield land:
A£200million Government fund to pay for more homes on industrial land has resulted in the opposite effect, with fewer homes built on brownfield areas than before it was set up.
Official Government’s land use change statistics show that the proportion of new homes registered on previously developed land has fallen by 4 percentage points since 2014, when the fund was set up.
Yet over the same period the number of new residential addresses on supposedly heavily protected Green Belt land has increased by the same proportion - 4 per cent.
Thus, obviously, all government action upon housebuilding is a failure and we must build however many hundreds of thousands of council houses it is:
However John Healey MP, Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary, said the figures showed that the Government had gone backwards on its pledge to encourage more building on brownfield sites.
He said: “If hot air built homes then Ministers would have fixed our housing crisis. Despite big promises to get building on brownfield land, official Government figures show we’ve gone backwards.
“It’s clear that Ministers are failing to get good value-for-money for taxpayers.
“By giving developers a free rein to do what they want, the Government is failing get homes for local people built where they are needed.”
Matt Thomson, Head of Planning at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, backed the findings, saying that “promises to build the homes the nation needs while protecting the countryside are not being carried through.
“Our analysis of the government’s new ‘planning rulebook’ suggests that despite a lot of warm words current trends will continue, to the detriment of both town and country.
“The government must stick to its guns and end this constant cycle of broken promises.
“They need to rein back greenfield development where suitable brownfield land is available, and discourage growth where it cannot happen without compromising their own policies intended to manage sprawl and protect open land.”
A fairly clear set of political demands there.
It is entirely possible that the government plan isn't working or is even counterprodutive. It's, well, possible at least, that central building and planning is the solution. Neither of those are our argument today. Rather, the proponents of the democratic planning idea tell us that this will be more efficient. That it will be the bright, committed and impartial technocrats who do the work on telling the rest of us what to do, guided by those preferences of the populace.
And yet what is it that is actually motivating this set of whines bout current policy? From the statistics release being used here:
These proportions tend to fluctuate from year-to-year, as shown – including conversions - in Table 1 below. This is due partly to variations in the location and timing of developments between years.
The figures tend to bounce around just because houses are built and put onto the market in gobs, possibly gobbets, not as a consistent flow of individual units. But this bouncing around between time periods simply because the counting is not entirely granular is enough to insist upon an entire change of policy?
Now d'ye see why we're not such fans of that political planning as a result of democratic decision making? The process simply isn't that disinterested technocracy determining things, is it? It's the result of whatever a propagandist can mine out of the passing scene. Which, we are really very sure about this, isn't the way to run a country.
The problem with that democratic economy and society is that it is and will be politics that runs it. Which, given the way politics works, isn't a good idea.