Sam Bowman, Executive Director of the Adam Smith Institute, argues that Ken Loach has picked the wrong villain in his latest film I, Daniel Blake. The story of people being mistreated by faceless bureaucrats in an unfeeling, capitalistic state is full of despair, but to blame modern capitalism would be wrong Sam argues:
Think about the hassle that the supposed pleasure of going on holiday once involved. Today, travel agents exist to offer cheap package holidays they’ve bought in bulk. Just 20 years ago, they existed because the airline and hotel industries were so bureaucratic that no ordinary person could deal with them directly. Nowadays the really crushing part of travelling is replacing a lost passport or applying for a visa – the two last big holdouts of government “service”.
In these as in so many other consumer areas, bureaucrats have been scrubbed from our daily lives. Trade and competition – the sort of competition that involves seducing customers from rivals by offering something better – have driven a phenomenal betterment in the lives of everyone, including the protagonists of Ken Loach’s dramas. Both government and business can be bureaucratic, but only businesses have an incentive to improve.
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