19 November 2007

The limits of a free market

More from Clive James (in a chapter written about the British General election of 2001):
The New Britain is philistine to the core. It is one of the cruellist paradoxes of my time in Britain that its onece fruitful broadcasting system now reinforces the stupidities it was brought into being to ameliorate. ... [W]hen Margaret Thatcher removed the quality requirement from the ITV [Independent TV] franchise bids, she blew the whistle for the rush to triviality. It was a crime bred from the capital error of thinking that an ideology can be a view of life. The free market has an unrivalled capacity to harness brains. But the free market does not have a mind, and its bastard child, managerialism, is not a thing of the spirit: just a toy for the untalented. The Meaning of Recognition (page 169)
I agree with Mr James here. The key, I think, is to harness the brains not solely to the performance of corporations, but to the social good. That is the Social Policy Bond principle: to channel the free market's incentives and efficiencies into achieving social and environmental goals.

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