Mark Littlewood writes for The Times Business
There are few private sector failings where the application of radically enhanced state power can’t make things even worse. This doesn’t mean there is no role for regulation or the rigorous application of the rule of law, but it does mean we need to be at least as sceptical about the intentions and judgments of state actors as we are about those in the private sector. The evidence shows that ill-judged investments and disastrous mismanagement simply aren’t punished as swiftly or as brutally when they are made by bureaucrats or politicians. Enormous IT failures — such as the Department for Transport’s shared service centre, which cost an additional £81 million, rather than saving the £57 million promised — are typically greeted with a shrug, not with resignations and a falling stock price.
If we are to re-run the arguments over free enterprise and state control, those who are keener on the former need to be more modest about what markets can be claimed to achieve and more brutal about the illusory benefits of the alternative. Churchill’s famous dictum that democracy is the worst form of government apart from all the others could just as easily be said of free market capitalism.
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