Wednesday, November 3, 2010
On Maximizing Public Choice
From an LSE talk by Lord Adair Turner:
"Over the course of the last 10 years there was a lot of focus on the UK's national productivity deficit vs. the US, and there was analysis that showed one of the key elements of this national productivity deficit was the problem of retail productivity, and this entered public policy in a real influential fashion in saying that we therefore have to deregulate out-of-town super markets because we will then achieve improvements in our national productivity, national productivity which would then slightly increase our long-term growth rate. But the point about such developments is that they have negative downsides - at least perceived negative downsides for some people - in terms of traffic creation, in terms of countryside destruction, in terms of village stores put out of business, in terms of the vibrancy of local town centers.
"The key point, once you shift the definition of objectives from growth as the overriding objective to growth as the byproduct of desirable things, is that you end up believing that those sorts of decisions ought to be made by local choice rather than just by entering in to that debate some supposed national imperative to squeeze out the last percentage points of productivity improvement and growth, particularly because...exercising choice is actually something that people value in and of itself, quite separate from the fact that they may be able to achieve, what to them, are superior culmination outcomes."
"Economists divert their eyes from the concept of fairness because it's a tricky concept."