February 11, 2008

John Gray on nationalised industries.

Reading the Adam Smith Institute’s blog came accross this quote from the philosopher John Gray:

We should junk the idea that state services should always be run as businesses; this has left public services struggling with debt and fixated on targets. It would be better to hive off some functions from the state altogether while accepting that others should be managed on non-market lines. We should be ready to give back autonomy to institutions. Devolving power has become the catchword of the hour for the opposition parties, but it involves more than giving schools and hospitals more discretion to decide their budgets. It means leaving them free to manage themselves whether or not the result is efficient.

Its that second sentance, in bold, that caught my attention. In the last couple of decades we have seem many nationalised industries turn into quasi public firms with market elements (e.g. rail industry). The result has been for firms to lack the accountability of either the marketplace or parliment.


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