20 July 2010

Doing what the corporates want

One of the virtues of Social Policy Bonds is that people, as distinct from government agencies and corporations, would decide on policy goals. As human beings, we probably would not want to divert funds from taxpayers and consumers to, for example, big agriculture, wealthy landowners, or big energy. The sums involved are staggering:
...more than US$ 550 billion was spent in 2008 on subsidies to oil, natural gas and coal by 37 of the world's developing and emerging economies ...their removal would result in significant energy savings. G-20 Summit sees little mention of pledge to reform fossil-fuel subsidies, by Fernando Cabrera Diaz, Global Subsidies Initiative, June/July
It's only because of the way in which government and big business make policy that they can get away with such a waste of resources. The current way of deciding on policy priorities is too obscure and protracted to engage ordinary people. Big corporations and government bodies fill the vacuum.

Social Policy Bonds would be different. The focus would be on outcomes right from the start. Organizations would be entirely subordinate to chosen social and environmental goals. A new type of organization - one whose rewards would be inextricably tied to its success in achieving society's goals - would come into being. Even under a bond regime, people would disagree with some chosen policy priorities. But, having been able participate actively in the selection process, they would be more inclined to buy in to targeted goals. Of course, even then we might still opt to tax the poor and subsidise big energy and big agriculture. But we'd be doing so with our eyes open, not as a result of being excluded from the decision-making process.

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