This could be embarassing

How do I admit that I was inspired by President Sarkozy for my blog this week? Will I be forgiven if I tell you that I did not hear him speak, but I read about it in the Daily Telegraph

What could a French President possibly say that could be inspiring? Nothing new really, it’s just that he used a bastion of capitalism, the gathering in Davos to question whether the free market system is working. Fortunately there are many answers to that, depending on how you look at it, but many of us will agree that in fact it is not ….. so? The railways do not work well either, but that does not mean we close them down – we just close them down on weekends (like banks) and accept the occasional crash (like banks).

There is a lot wrong with the system we currently have and yes I have questioned the singular focus on shareholder value for a long time. There was a period that some people tried to focus on stakeholder value or something like that, but the tax suckers jumped on that bandwagon so everybody else ran for cover.

Much like the railways we tinker with the system really because we have no alternative. Like the railways we try to regulate ourselves out of the challenges – do you know how many bits of paper it takes to replace a light bulb at a station ….. and that is before we set up the team to implement it? It is a miracle trains run at all – most employees are doing much more important stuff like filling in forms, filing them or checking that others are doing these mission critical functions.

With the free market we also tinker – no more bonuses for bankers but let’s pay Mr Bolland £15 million for his first year at M&S. After all, we have to pay market rates! Let’s have full openness on MP’s expenses but cover up as long as possible the 70 of them who are claiming their expenses were in fact correct. And lets discuss whether Mr Blair had a legal right to kill up to say 1 million Iraqis (it is very difficult to get any kind of real number) because he did not like Mr Hussein – what should you do if you don’t like say Mr Blair? In all these cases the law is probably on their side, but that does not make it right. The railways also run and some even on time most of the time, but that does not make them good either.

What we do know is that we have not found an alternative to our free market system and we like the freedoms it provides. We put up with the inconveniences of too much regulation and as many camera’s as possible to catch us parking illegally as we wait for the revolution – or at least a better alternative. The free market does need rethinking and lots of adjustments, but without some serious changes in attitudes, or values in the Davos crowd and spreading that to bankers, MP and others, we will continue to tinker and let’s face it, many of us in Enterprise Britain will find ways to benefit from the market we are in.

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