"Introducing Market Forces into “Public” Services is the fourth volume in Liberty Fund’s The Collected Works of Arthur Seldon. It brings together six of Seldon’s most pivotal essays that discuss his alternative proposals for paying for “public” services rather than through coercive taxation. Specifically, Seldon focuses on the varied use of vouchers and the choices people have regarding purchasing or receiving such public services as health care and education. The recurring theme, as noted in Colin Robinson’s introduction, is that “non-market provision, financed by taxpayers, leads to a fatal disconnection between suppliers and consumers.”
Throughout this book, Seldon examines the options and obligations of the government as the “middle-man.” Seldon creates a compelling case that through a return to market principles, “efficiency in the provision of these services will improve, and, above all, people will regain the incentive to provide for themselves instead of relying on the state.” This volume is an invaluable resource for those embroiled in the public debate over such issues as education vouchers, managed health care, and overwhelming taxation."
The Fallacies of Free Welfare
A century of increasing welfare services provided by public authority with no close link, or no link at all, at the point of service, between payment and cost has demonstrated three basic errors: ﬁrst, its assumptions on the nature of man and his motives; second, the non sequitur in the logic of proceeding from the premiss of poverty to public provision; third, the error of supposing that price was no more than a “barrier” to be disguised, distorted or “abolished” by ﬁat or decree.
The history of free, or partly free, State welfare has substantially vindicated the major precepts and premisses of classical political economy. It has postulated a degree of disinterested benevolence in the givers and of self-less abnegation in the recipients that has never existed anywhere in history except in short periods of emergency, military or civil.
Dr Arthur Seldon CBE (1916-2005) was joint founder president, with Ralph Harris, of the Institute of Economic Affairs, where he directed academic affairs for 30 years.
He studied at the London School of Economics where Arnold Plant and Lionel Robbins deepened his interest in classical liberalism and Friedrich Hayek introduced him to Austrian Economics. He received an honorary degree in 1999 from the University of Buckingham.
Seldon was Vice president of the Mont Pelerin Society (MPS), whose past presidents include von Hayek and Milton Friedman.
For over thirty years from the late 1950s Arthur Seldon was the Editorial Director of the London-based Institute for Economic Affairs, where his publishing program was one of the principal influences on governments all around the world, persuading them to liberalize their economies.
Arthur Seldon was a prophet of what came to be called Thatcherism. The Thatcherite revolution of the 1970s and 1980s had many roots, but one was certainly a sea change in the intellectual climate of the times, and Seldon played a huge role in that sea change.