Illusion of Progress
Most economists today believe that market economies are superior to communist command systems which criminalize private property, business and entrepreneurship, because nationalization and state control restrict, discourage and warp individual utility seeking. They recognize that communist regimes try to mitigate these distortions by replacing individual self-seeking with planning and bureaucracy, but nonetheless judge command economies to be microeconomically ineﬃcient, and degeneration prone. Figure 15.1 illustrates why. It shows, using CIA estimates, that Soviet GDP growth steadily decelerated during the post-Stalin epoch, approaching zero 1976-85, before plummeting 1989-91. Oﬃcial data indicate better performance, but not only is the downward trend the same; Soviet authorities disavowed their own statistics. Mikhail Gorbachev and Abel Aganbegyan repeatedly contended that national income ceased growing in the 1970s and never revived, despite oﬃcial statistics purporting that the USSR outperformed the United States.