June 20, 2007

Socialists spotted ... still insane

There is a discussion going on at Stumbling and Mumbling that seems to have brought the old market denialists out of the woodwork, including this classic comment:

The key truth is that we don't measure private sector failure, so we have no idea if it is more efficient or not...

In order to argue about that you need a definition of the efficiency of an activity, how about these for a couple of starters:
The amount that a person wants something, relative to the resources it takes to do it for them. (Also called the profit margin.)
Or the absolute amount that the mass of people want something, compared to the total amount of resources it takes to do it for them. (Also called the net profit.)
Businesses worry about their efficiency a lot, if they did not anybody that did would be able to undercut them and drive them under. The market is an evolutionary system, it is subject to constant change and if you cannot keep up with the Red Queen's Race[7] you will not survive. The market is not some static unchanging thing created whole and entire by a cabal of Evil Capitalists/Sky Fairies at some point in the past never to change. The bureaucracies of the public sector might be static andunwieldy but everything exposed to the market cannot be if it wants to last.

When those who are so fond of private solutions produce detailed and plausible proposals for the privatisation of the armed forces and the police, I'll consider it worth listening to their analyses of how to improve education and health.

A bit of a nonsequenter there grouping some very different sets of activities, like saying "When those who are so fond of state solutions produce detailed and plausible proposals for collectivised farming (e.g. the Chinese Great Leap Forward or the USSR's attempt in the Ukraine) or nationalised industry (e.g. British Leyland), I'll consider it worth listening to their analyses of how to improve education and health." However if examples of private enterprise are wanted examples can be provided.

Mercenaries have been used since the dawn of recorded history, and probably before, such as Sir Francis Drake and other Privateers. The Royal Navy evolved from that built up around the prize system, and mainly crewed by volunteers drawn by the fact that in time of war capturing enemy shipping offered a good way of making money. Lord Nelson was of what would now be called middle class family but ended up reaching the very top of society, and making a ton of money, due to his considerable skill and the fact the navy promoted based on talent. Admirals got a cut of the prizes taken by those under their command to it was in their interest to promote the most talented who where therefore most likely to take prizes. It was during this period that Britain gained an undisputed dominance of the sea (paving the way for the destruction of the slave trade) that lasted for well over a hundred years.

Private street patrols paid for by the residents, gated communities again with their security barriers paid for by the residents[4], or for a bit of topicality the security fence and patrols employed at Glastonbury to try and discourage thieves and gate crashers.

Why not talk about health? The market based systems as in France regularly coming out as the best for outcomes of all the industrialised nations. The state monopoly in the UK comes out badly in comparison.


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