Edison in reverse

The takeaway from my latest piece in The Guardian on the failure of for-profit provision of services like health and Education

Blair, and like-minded reformers throughout the English-speaking world, have delivered an Edison in reverse. Edison experimented with many things that didn’t work, but ended up with a light bulb. Market-oriented reforms, particularly in the provision of human services like health, education and public safety, have begun with a working system and replaced it with a string of failed experiments.

53 thoughts on “Edison in reverse

  1. The definition of “natural monopoly” seems to be getting terribly broad in the discussion above.

    “A natural monopoly is a monopoly in an industry in which high infrastructural costs and other barriers to entry relative to the size of the market give the largest supplier in an industry, often the first supplier in a market, an overwhelming advantage over potential competitors. This frequently occurs in industries where capital costs predominate, creating economies of scale that are large in relation to the size of the market; examples include public utilities such as water services and electricity. Natural monopolies were discussed as a potential source of market failure by John Stuart Mill, who advocated government regulation to make them serve the public good.” – Wikipedia.

    “William Baumol (1977)[2] provided the current formal definition of a natural monopoly where “[a]n industry in which multi-firm production is more costly than production by a monopoly” (p. 810). He linked the definition to the mathematical concept of subadditivity; specifically of the cost function.” – Wikipedia.

    I don’t know what subadditivity is BTW. The word definitions will do for me and as they seem logical it also seems logical (to me) that a mathematical definition could be derived.

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