Mariana Mazzucato, The Guardian

In his epic book, The End of Laissez-Faire (1926), John Maynard Keynes wrote a sentence that should be the guiding light for politicians around the globe. “The important thing for government is not to do things which individuals are doing already, and to do them a little better or a little worse; but to do those things which at present are not done at all.”

In other words, the point of public policy is to make big things happen that would not have happened anyway. To do this, big budgets are not enough: big thinking and big brains are key.

While economists usually talk about things that are not done at all (or done inadequately) by the private sector as “public goods”, investments in “big” public goods like the UK national health service, or the investments that led to new technologies behind putting a “man on the moon”, required even more than fixing the “public good” problem. They required the willingness and ability to dream up big “missions”. The current narrative we are being sold about the state as a “meddler” in capitalism is putting not only these missions under threat, but even more narrowly defined public goods.

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(15 dicembre 2013)

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