26 July 2009

Give greed a chance

Climate change, the world's financial system, the risk of nuclear war or pandemics: the list of huge problems that our politicians are unable to comprehend, let alone deal with, is scary. We know little about the exact scale of the problems, still less about how costly will be their solutions. And even less about how most efficiently to go about finding such solutions. The consequences of getting any of these calculations wrong under the current command-and-control policy system is immense. And these consequences are borne entirely by people who cannot or do not want to bear them.

Social Policy Bonds can transfer the risks of getting it wrong to people who are prepared to take on that risk, in the hope of profiting from solving our social and environmental problems. The bonds channel the market's incentives into the achievement of universally desired goals rather than, as now, corrupting the global banking system or marketing dogfood. It is only 'greed' in the sense that going out to work, rather than staying at home while collecting a lesser sum on the dole is also 'greed'. That sort of greed can be helpful to us all if it's channelled correctly, and if the 'greedy' people's goals are exactly congruent with those of society. They would be so congruent under a Social Policy Bond regime. Read more by clicking on the links in the right-hand column.

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