17 August 2010

An argument for a governing aristocracy?

Or perhaps, lottocracy? In a review of Philip Ziegler's biography of the former British Prime Minister, Edward Heath, Ferdinand Mount says:
[Heath] promised a 'quiet revolution', in terms which understandably convinced his right wing that he had come over to their way of thinking. By instinct, though, he preferred to control things rather than let them run free and endure the consequences. Plonking, Ferdinand Mount, London Review of Books, 22 July (subscription)
I wonder whether this is a feature of all non-aristocratic policymakers. Which is to say, those politicians - almost all of them nowadays, and definitely Mr Heath - who had to struggle mightily to get to their position. Effort is all very well but, especially when it has successfully advanced a person's career, it will predispose to a controlling mindset; one that will be predisposed to work on problems, rather than let them solve themselves. One that will be biased toward intervention and top-down, one-size-fits-all planning, rather than creating an environment whereby adaptive, diverse policies can achieve outcomes without government prejudging how they shall do so.

Social Policy Bonds could perhaps be a compromise. Under a bond regime, politicians would still articulate our social goals, and control their funding and priority; they would, though, relinquish their power to dictate how these goals shall be achieved.

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