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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > Mar-18 > Can the private sector make services run better?

Can the private sector make services run better?

The Duel

YES

Look at the world around us, in all its amazing creativity and variety. The winning combination of specialisation and competition, which is the foundation of the modern economy, has made available more and better things in every sphere of life, and provided more people than ever before with the opportunity to access them. Instead of asking why would we let the private sector get involved in public services, the real question is why on earth wouldn’t we want to harness such a successful system for such an important job?

Of course the private sector helps our public services to run better. We know this inherently when we think about, say, the NHS finding supplies of pens.

It would be insane and disastrous for hospital trusts or the Department of Health to develop and manufacture their own Biros. It would waste a fortune trying and failing to replicate work that others already do perfectly well. Instead, we all accept that they outsource the job to the private sector, and various specialist companies compete to provide the most attractive service, motivated by profit.

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect’s March issue: A series of writers turn their thoughts to the developing war over words in the UK and the US. Lionel Shriver, Afua Hirsch, Simon Lancaster, Hugh Tomlinson, Tom Clark and two students ask if free expression is truly compromised? What’s really going on in our universities? And what do voters think? Elsewhere in the issue: Michael Ignatieff questions why today’s left-wing leaders can’t live up to the high mark set by FDR, Sameer Rahim shows how western powers have been trying to dictate what Islam should be, and Mary Beard asks “How do we look?” as our perceptions of what is beautiful have changes over the centuries.