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RIP Professor James Buchanan
January 14, 2013

Professor James Buchanan died this week at the age of 93. He was an American professor of economics who was also a Nobel Prize winner. His Prize was awarded in 1986, some twenty years after I had come across him as a young economics graduate. I remember being very taken with him then, though apparently forgotten by me, by the time of his Prize.

His obituary says he was the inspiration for Yes Minister. His idea, perish the thought, was that public servants and the provision of goods and services by the state, is not some kind of community expression of an unquestionable public good, but a game of trade-off, pressure group pressures, calculation and very private self interest by the bureaucrats themselves. And this is so, however it is wrapped up.

We are becoming aware of that now every day. - as one public institution after another is being exposed for what actually is going on underneath - MPs, the police, tabloid press, the NHS and the BBC - and of course (always) the EU. And the scandal of Jimmy Savile as it unfolds in all of its awfulness is in part a scandal of institutional failure.

What interests me is that in response to each and every crisis, the proposed solution is always more regulation, more supervision, more legal safeguards and more games. Is it just me who feels that we have not even begun to get to the heart of the crisis and that the general public is being taken as fools?

The professor made his mark with me some 45 years ago. Who made their mark on you when you were young and open?

best wishes

Andrew Richardson
Feelbetter Counselling East London

94 Malford Grove, London E18 2DQ

Direct Line: 0208 257 0429 Mobile: 07870 104651 Skype: famrichhg

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