Mises paper: the list of errors continues
I am still reading what is supposed to be the ultimate proof but is really not ultimate and not a proof. So where did we stop last time? It was that thing about socialism piggybacking on the success of its rival.
Quote: "In state and municipal undertakings technical improvements are introduced because their effect in similar private enterprises, domestic or foreign, can be noticed".
Well, first of all, I don't see why this point, even if it were true, should bother Mises at all. Logically, there is nothing wrong with using achievements of your rivals to your own advantage. The one who succeeds most in this life is not necessarily the innovator; often it is the person who purchases other people's inventions and patents. Just like an army commander has every right to use information reported to him by a reconnaissance unit, a socialist country doesn't owe any apologies to Mises if it decides to take a hint or two from other countries' economic data.
Of course one can always say that IF every single country in the world decided to take the socialist route, then this wonderful external source of information would dry up. But this objection cannot be taken too seriously because there is no logical reason why EVERYBODY would want to try Socialism at once. To say that planners will run out of information if everybody chooses to go socialist is the same thing as to say that life will end if everybody becomes hyper-religious and chooses absolute celibacy. Don't worry about that! As long as we have such politicians as Ron Paul, the chance of every single country, province and township embracing Socialism is about equal to the chance of the Roman Pope, the Iranian Ayatollah, and the Israili main Rabbi changing their mind and turning Atheist on the same hour of the same day.
But even if by some miracle such a thing ever happened, that wouldn't be the end of efficient central planning. For central planners could always designate one special province inside the country and let it run along capitalist lines in order to gain useful insights from that experiment. China has in fact done something of the sort when it took over Hong Kong and is now proposing the same "one country - two systems" model to Taiwan. Even if voters in EVERY country were to reject Capitalism by an overwhelming majority, there would still be enough individuals willing to form a separate Taiwan-sized capitalist colony and relocate there to commit themselves fully to the market cause. The Caps community alone will supply more than enough volunteers, I think. The government would only have to give them a go-ahead, and soon enough all the missing price data will again be on the planners' desk. So a refusal to generate "objective market data" on your own is a) not a bad thing in itself and b) does not deprive you of information that you need.
And moreover, it's not even obvious that central planning is destined to a catch-up role and cannot innovate "organically". There are no theoretical reasons for not implementing innovations until some businessman abroad alerts you to the possibility. Nor is that conclusion borne out by empirical data. How many satellites had been launched by market economies before the Sputnik? The answer is zero. How many nuclear power plants had been built before the first Soviet plant opened in 1954? Again, the answer is zero. How many subway systems had been built by private capital before the construction of the Moscow "Metro" in the 1930s? Zero up to this day.
When Mises says that "without economic calculation there can be no economy" he is only saying that without such calculation, there can be no economy that HE prefers - the one that is based entirely on that calculation. But he forgets that other economies might well choose to derive their legitimacy from other sources.
P. S. Some posters have suggested, predictably, that Mises' profound revelations can only be appreciated by a qualified audience - the one that is 100% committed to the market cause. I disagree. Ideological "isms" are only necessary when you want to to evaluate emotional rhetoric, but there are no ideological qualifications to access Mises' economic "discoveries". His paper is written in plain language and does not require any special economic knowledge, much less any ideological "isms". The reader's job is simply to ask himself how closely the author's statements conform to logic. So I am just reading the paper, and reporting to you what in my opinion makes sense and what doesn't, and so far I just see an error upon error. In the present example, when he calls a planning system defective because it dares to copycat some of the achievements of capitalist economies - a claim that ignores the whole history of Japan's industrialization - I cannot pretend that it makes any sense to me because it doesn't. So to those of you with strong ideological preferences I can only advise to support your beliefs with equally strong arguments - in the comments section.