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Dear Lord….

Richard Murphy:

That is the reality of much of life. Advertising sells the lie of choice when it is actually selling a person dissatisfaction with their state of compliance with societal norms. Economics as taught at present says we are all free to choose when that is absurdly and obviously wrong. And Nudge offers the appearance of choice whilst saying its really only exercised at the very margins of service supply.

In which case let’s be honest. Let’s say in this complex modern world some things can’t be done with choice on the agenda. There is room for only one health service if we want a truly excellent one – as the contrast of the UK’s NHS with the US debacle proves only too clearly. There is room for only one education system if all children are to get access to excellence. We can only have one police force in an area, one fire service, one provider of refuse services – and only one regulator of an activity if it is to be done properly.

Of course we can have choice on a great many issues. Many consumer goods, despite their obvious similarities in many cases, can be offered in a bewildering variety of options if that does not result in waste (a big proviso, I might add). And, for example, there is no reason why the country cannot support the vast number of market based service organisations it enjoys without apparent problem of any sort. That’s all fine.

But let’s not pretend one size fits all – and that we can choose on everything. We can’t. We don’t even want to. And if we did we’d probably get it wrong. So it’s up to the state to do the most complex things – to take the stress of these decisions away from us – but to then supply these services at an excellent standard.

Choice is bad m\’kay?

Don\’t worry your pretty little heads about it, let the bureaucrats do it all for you.

22 thoughts on “Dear Lord….”

  1. As I mentioned recently in some other place, he brings to mind Arthur Shenfield’s description of J K Galbraith:

    “We have heard Professor B. A. Rogge describe Galbraith as arrogant and wrongheaded. True, but there is more to it than that. In the groves of academe one sometimes comes across men who are arrogant and wrongheaded but yet, in an eccentric way, are respectable scholars. In all Galbraith’s popular works there is hardly an idea of note which is not an affront to scholarship. The run-of-the-mill bad economist seeks truth but, being a bad economist, fails to find it. Galbraith is a bad economist of a different stamp. The quest for truth is not outside his purview, but it is not his primary concern, which is to have an effect.”

    It almost as though he’s channelling J K G.

  2. Perhaps he thinks that “clearly” there’s only room for one excellent car maker, or supermarket or computer or … sigh.

    Then again, perhaps he genuinely believes a Trabant is the pinnacle of automotive excellence.

  3. “So it’s up to the state to do the most complex things – to take the stress of these decisions away from us – but to then supply these services at an excellent standard.”

    Funny how the state is excellent at the first bit (taking decisions away from us) and abysmal at the second bit (providing an excellent standard of service).

    It must be because we’re incapable of choosing the right government, and so the state needs to take the stress of democratic choice from us, and then provide an excellent standard of government.

  4. But let’s not pretend one size fits all
    Indeed. Not for health care, education, refuse, even for fire and security service! Let’s have a multitude of providers for any wish consumers have.

  5. And it’s to be done to save us… stress??

    I have a suggestion for Richie. He must give me all his money, all his assets, every piece of property he owns, and I’ll make all the decisions for him. I’ll shoulder that burden, because someone has to.

  6. It’s often said “people want good hospitals, not choice” – which is true, to the extent that if all hospitals were good, we wouldn’t worry about choice. But if some hospitals are better than others, people want choice, don’t they?

  7. “But let’s not pretend one size fits all – and that we can choose on everything.”

    This can be paraphrased: “we need more than one option, and we do not need more than one option”.

  8. I quite liked Murphy’s claim that:

    “We quite clearly do not have the capacity to make all the decisions that are required of us to manage a modern life. Without others taking most of them for us (others often, but by no means always, being backed by government) chaos would ensue”

    It’s true enough that all humans are inherently limited, but presumably these “others” are also human, and thus incapable of making these decisions. Except that the ‘others’ don’t suffer personally from making the wrong decision so get less feedback as to what is the correct decision.

  9. Until now I had only seen Richard Murphy through the lens of this blog, but having looked around his site for a bit I have to conclude that his cluelessness has been greatly understated by Tim.

  10. KMc C- damn you , you got there first.
    As far as I can recall the US healthcare system delivers far better outcomes than ours- but it costs more. It must be nice to have the option of better treatment if you want to pay for it.
    If there is only one education system capable of providing excelence it certainly isn’t the British state system- is it actually possible for Eton to expand to cover the whole country? and if it can, is there any point in educating cleaners to that level?
    We can indeed only have one police force- but do we really want no choice in how they approach their business (If I were chief constable, be sure I’d find something to arrest Mr. Murphy for- and he won’t mind, he doessn’t want choice).
    etc.
    If I didn’t know better I would think he was paving the way for a dictatorship- but he’s obviously a clown, and aa very funny one at that.

  11. Clueless? No, but delighted to be following in the path, as suggested here, of Galbraith – clearly the best economist never to get the Nobel prize.

    What an honour to be compared, even slightly.

  12. “There is only room for one provider of refuse services…but let’s not pretend that one size fits all”

    Or, if you like, he can hold diametrically opposed views on a subject within a couple of sentences of each other.

    Confused or what?

  13. This is all a joke, isn’t it, Tim? You made up ‘Richard Murphy’ just for laughs? You don’t really expect us to believe that anyone outside of a home for the retarded could be this stupid?

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  16. Those who admire a state-controlled command economy surely love J. K. Galbraith, (and the rest of his fellow Keynesian idiots).

    The petty Stalinists never give up, do they?

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