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A significant problem with politically run organisations – they’re politically run

Summary:
Embedded in that idea of a democratically run economy that’s so popular over on the left is the idea that it should be politics and voting which determine how organisations are run. The problem with this should be obvious, it’ll be politics and voting determining how organisations are run. Given who ends up in politics, how that whole system works, this is unlikely to prove efficient:Rail leaders will this week call for a new independent watchdog that will allow Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, to take a back seat from meddling with the country’s ­beleaguered train network.Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), the trade body that represents operators and tracks and station owner Network Rail, will urge Keith Williams, who is ­conducting the biggest review

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Embedded in that idea of a democratically run economy that’s so popular over on the left is the idea that it should be politics and voting which determine how organisations are run. The problem with this should be obvious, it’ll be politics and voting determining how organisations are run. Given who ends up in politics, how that whole system works, this is unlikely to prove efficient:

Rail leaders will this week call for a new independent watchdog that will allow Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, to take a back seat from meddling with the country’s ­beleaguered train network.

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), the trade body that represents operators and tracks and station owner Network Rail, will urge Keith Williams, who is ­conducting the biggest review of the railways since privatisation, to set up an “arms-length body” that will prevent the railways from being used as a ­“political football”.

As we can see the desire here is to remove those train sets from being run on that day to day basis by that politics and voting stuff. It’s not particularly Chris Grayllng at issue here, it’s that a large and complex organisation is not going to react well to being buffeted by the whims and manias of daily politics. Thus the need to remove it from such control.

But if this is then necessary then the main argument for nationalisation itself then fails, doesn’t it? Politics should directly control such vital infrastructure services goes that argument. But then we’ve got to insulate that vital infrastructure from politics. So, there’s no argument for the political control, is there?

Might as well go for the efficiency of private ownership within general regulation then.

Or, as we could and should put it, the major argument against politics and politicians running things is how politics and politicians run things.

Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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