We can add that the best argument against crowd-sourcing is a five-minute browse of the Treasury\’s Spending Challenge website, which has degenerated into a SpEak You\’re bRanes moron-fest of calls to cut benefits and overseas aid.
The tragedy is, though, that there is a good reason why the public should be consulted. Ministers alone are in no position to cut spending effectively. Dave Brailsford, one of the country\’s most successful sports coaches (yes, there are some), says success is all about \”the aggregation of marginal gains.\” Applying this principle to the public sector implies that increasing efficiency requires countless small improvements – a better procurement process here, a small re-organisation there.
As Chris doesn\’t go on to say but could have done, this is exactly the thing which markets do manage to achieve. Those incremental, marginal steps. A little bit here, a little bit there.
They add up, over the years, those little steps: try compounding a 1 or 2% per year increase in total factor productivity over a couple of centuries.
In the long run that\’s why we want as much of life and the economy as we can have subjsect to markets and market forces. No, this doesn\’t mean necessarily capitalism: workers co-ops such as John Lewis are just as good (perhaps better?) at is as purely capitalist firms. It\’s being subject to market competition, not the method of ownership, that achieves the miracle of doing more with less over time.