Market liberals are far more optimistic about the philanthropic and benign potential of human nature than are socialists .
A favourite optimistic nostrum of Ralph Harris, an influential trader in ideas who died last year, was: Dont worry, everything is getting worse. Optimistic, because his maxim was that the more dreadful political provision of services such as schools and hospitals, the greater the opportunity for reform.
Those of us who loved him will celebrate the life of Lord Harris of High Cross next Tuesday (20 February) at a gathering in Westminster at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), the organisation he ran for many years. We will have a merry afternoon for a jolly soul.
Harris touched the daily life of all of us. Who demolished the absurdity termed retail price maintenance, which meant retailers couldnt choose the price at which they could sell their wares? Harris has a good claim. The reform created the supermarket phenomenon and even gave Richard Branson his start in commercial life.
How was the tyranny of exchange controls relaxed? Harris harried the politicians. Who cajoled ministers to sell off the vast rusting hulks termed nationalised industries? And who dared to ask if trade unions were public bads ra