I have recently purchased two volumes of Arthur Seldon's collected articles. Those wishing to daydream about the full potential of the market economy should look no further. This extract from his 1988 article 'Political Bar to Economic Progress' is a perfect illustration of the problems of government ownership and centralization:
'In the commercial market we 'represent' ourselves directly. We spend our money on food, clothing, furnishing, motoring. We use our money - 'votes' - to buy what we want as individuals, families. If we don't like one supplier we can change to another.
The political 'market' is very different. Politicians spend other people's money. We the people are 'represented' indirectly in a tortuous chain of public meetings, conferences, motions, references back, elections, private conclaves, lobbies, compromises, hard bargains.
We submit to majority decisions on intimate personal services like education, medical care, housing and transport. And if we, as individuals or minorities, don't like what this Tower of Babel produces, we cannot escape.
In spending our own money, we make every penny count. In the political 'market' our cross on the ballot-paper makes not a scrap of difference. The cost of voting [...] can be high; the benefit is doubtful, immeasurable or absent.'
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