08 February 2010

Social Policy Bonds: an alternative to policy mashup

Jaron Lanier:
If everything is a mashup of everything, then everything becomes the same, gradually .... You need to have membrane walls to have creative evolution. The reason the Beatles are the Beatles is they evolved initially somewhat separately at a club in Hamburg (Germany) and at this funny club in Liverpool. If everybody is on Ed Sullivan all the time, you can't ever get a Beatles; everything will be the same. Silicon Valley visionary says life online needs some humanity, 24 January
A policymaking culture where there is only one solution to a given problem is unlikely to be effective. Government policy is increasingly centralised, and so becoming less capable of dealing with diverse populations and circumstances. Even if a policy applied very widely is efficient to begin with it will be unable to respond creatively to changing circumstances.

There's nothing wrong with wanting a uniformly agreed outcome, such as universal literacy, or reduced crime rates. But it is folly to imagine that a single approach can be efficient in supplying one. People differ, circumstances vary, and times change. Governments are too big and cumbersome to respond, and they much prefer a uniform approach to anything more administratively untidy.

Social Policy Bonds might be the answer. They would reward people for achieving outcomes as broad as world peace or the eradication of global hunger, but they would not stipulate how these goals shall be achieved. That would be up to investors in the bonds, who would have every incentive to seek out and implement any of a wide and expanding array of approaches, varying according to space, population and time. The contrast with the current policy mashup is stark.


Mike Linksvayer said...

That's Jaron Lanier.

Great to see you blogging again, or to have noticed your feed change and seen your blogging again.


Ronnie Horesh said...

Oops! (Fixed) Thanks Mike and good to see you again.