Some biddy who works in lung problems wants to tell us all about how covid has increased the importance of cooperation in medical services. Quite right too. Unfortunately near everyone gets the next step wrong for markets are, by definition, cooperation. Therefore, if we desire more cooperation we desire more markets.
As we head towards 2021, I once again find myself anxious about what the new year might hold. However, I am convinced that preparedness, flexibility and a commitment to collaboration are what is needed to weather the storms that we may face in the coming months and years.
To collaborate with someone is to work with them. To do that cooperating bit in order to achieve some goal. OK, so, how do we do that?
Say I want some bananas. I will end up cooperating with some thousands to hundreds of thousands of people to gain some. There are sheds around the country which contain bananas. In order to gain some I need only enter one, proffer some of my legally – or illegally – obtained universal ration vouchers and I will walk out with some bananas. I have, in doing so, cooperated with, collaborated with, those many thousands of people. There are the builders who put up the sheds, the people who grew the bananas, those who manned the trucks and ships to bring them, the biddies who ran the HR systems at the places that chemicalled the refrigeration gasses into existence and even the folks on the beach at Cox’s Bazaar who chop up the ships when we’re done with them.
Whether we call those universal vouchers money or some more direct issuance or allowance from government matters not at this point. We are still talking of this vast chain of supply being one of cooperation to bring some part of an herb from tropical climes to be added to my cornflakes of a morning.
As it happens there is also competition in the system we actually use. I can use Mr. Sainsbury’s shed, Miss Waitrose’s, and behind those shopfronts there is competition to supply those places among those with ships, and brands, and chemicals, and land, and the bananas themselves and so on.
The competition is over who to cooperate with at each stage of the process. Which doesn’t change the fact that the activity itself, the transfer of yellowy mush from production point to consumption one is a long chain of collaboration.
Markets, that is, allow selectivity over who to collaborate with. Said markets are the manner by which we decide who is the best person, at any one time, to do that collaborating with.
OK, now switch from bananas to health care. The logic is the same. We want more collaboration, OK, fine. We wish, obviously, to collaborate with those it makes most sense to on any particular project. Great, so, we want competitive markets in which we can do that. Precisely and exactly because any market transaction is a collaboration, the more general “markets” just being a choice of who to do that collaborating with.