Motivation, Agency, and Public Policy: Of Knights and Knaves, Pawns and Queens

By Julian Le Grand | Go to book overview

Epilogue : Doux Commerce Publique

Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end.

(Immanuel Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals)

Organise policy until self-interest does what justice requires.

(Anon.)

Let me conclude on a more reflective note. It will not have escaped the attentive reader of this book that I believe that public policy should be designed so as to empower individuals: to turn pawns into queens. As I hope to have shown in the last three chapters, innovative fiscal measures that would further this end include demogrants, matching grants to encourage savings, and the hypothecation of certain taxes. Obviously, these do not cover the full range of fiscal measures that a society could adopt to empower its citizens; but they are ones currently on the policy agenda and that could be readily implemented without excessive political or economic upheaval.

Earlier chapters concentrated on reforms to public services: specifically, the use of competitive quasi-market mechanisms of one kind or another to deliver those services. Again the argument was that, suitably designed, these were a good way to turn pawns into queens: that they empowered service users. Motivation issues were also important; the incentives in such markets would have to be appropriately structured so that they were robust, appealing to both the knight and the knave.

Now some readers, including those sympathetic to the general aim of turning pawns into queens, may find the part of the argument involving quasi-markets unacceptable. The essence of a public service, they might feel, is that it is not provided through markets of any kind. Markets rely upon the pursuit of knavish self-interest by service providers; and the pursuit of self-interest in the context of public services can only be destructive both to service users themselves and to the wider society. Better to rely upon ways of service delivery that rely upon different forms of motivation for providers: specifically, ones that utilise providers' knightly or altruistic feelings or, more generally, rely upon trust and the 'public service ethos'. This would not only produce superior service outcomes but would also be morally preferable. A society that

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Motivation, Agency, and Public Policy: Of Knights and Knaves, Pawns and Queens
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Motivation, Agency, and Public Policy iii
  • Preface ix
  • Contents xiii
  • List of Figures xiv
  • 1: Introduction 1
  • Part I Theory: of Knights and Knaves 21
  • 2: Knights and Knaves in the Public Sector 23
  • 3: Motivation and the Policy Context 39
  • 4: A Theory of Public Service Motivation 51
  • Part II Theory: of Pawns and Queens 71
  • 5: Agency and Public Services 73
  • 6: Agency and Public Finance 85
  • Part III Policy 93
  • 7: Health Care 95
  • 8: School Education 107
  • 9: A Demogrant 120
  • 10: Partnership Savings 137
  • 11: Hypothecation 147
  • Epilogue : Doux Commerce Publique 163
  • Index 183
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