Governments have been taking control of activities – ‘public’ goods, ‘public’ utilities, welfare and local government services – which would have been better left to the private sector. Most of them were being privately provided before the state crowded out private initiatives.
People will increasingly escape to non-state suppliers unless the government withdraws from many of these activities. Government should reduce its share of national income from 40 per cent to 20 per cent.
Arthur Seldon, for many years the IEA’s editorial director, argues that attempts to correct market ‘imperfections’ have created over-government. But the ‘escapable power of political government’ is up against the ‘irresistible economic force of the market’. Sir Samuel Brittan contributes a comment in which he says that Seldon’s paper reveals ‘a deep belief in the superior ability of ordinary citizens to make their own choices and decisions better than governments or experts or committees’.