By Samuel Brittan
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Additional resources for Capitalism and the Permissive Society
One is 'workers' control' or 'industrial democracy'. The other is freedom of choice of occupation, or voting with one's feet. The two approaches are not incompatible. By all means let us experiment with every sort of choice for giving people more say in the organisations in which they work - although my own feeling is that what people most want is, in the first place, to be informed in advance so that decisions are not sprung upon them and secondly, to be consulted so that they can express their views before it is too late, rather than to 26 Capitalism and the Permissive Society attempt themselves the tasks of management.
Even if people were actuated by benevolence, they would still need to know what jobs to do and what methods to use to satisfy other people's desires most efficiently, and a coordinating mechanism would be required. At most we could dispense with the fourth item on the list - incentives. Even then the profits or opportunities for high earnings would still be indispensable as signals, although any excess wealth gained by following them might eventually be given away to charitable organisations. Galbraith's influence on the New Left has, as Lindbeck has pointed out, strengthened its temptation to ignore the inconvenient problem of co-ordination.
12 The remedy for these evils lies in the direction of more competition, more reliance on markets and more reliance on the price mechanism, adjusted to take into account 'social' costs and benefits at present unpriced. It does not lie in the 'suppression' of capitalism and greater concentration of power at the centre. To cite Lindbeck yet again: would Concorde be less likely to have been built if the British and French Governments not only co-operated with the aircraft producers but also entirely owned them (as they partially do already)?