Nodes & Links
Modern society is essentially a small-world network. All networks have two kinds of component - nodes and links. Nodes are centric or point-like. Links are connective and distributive. The two types must be managed in different ways to suit their distinctive natures.
Within any economy there are nodal elements such as homes, factories, shops and special services. These, by their very point-centred nature, can lend themselves to the privatised business method of control. But for an economy to function, these nodes must be selectably linked to each other by transport and other means of connection. This demands another class of elements called links. These are such things as roads, telecommunications networks, railways and mail. Because of their dispersive nature these latter can only work effectively as public services.
Capitalist-oriented governments seem obsessed with applying commercial principles and the corporate model to absolutely every function in society. The idea is that by introducing competition into the provision of infrastructure, great increases in efficiency and productivity will result. But for some things the point-centric corporate model is technically unworkable. Consequently, such extreme dogma can only wreak havoc within a socio-economy. A ridiculously extreme example will make this clear.
An Extreme Example
In an extreme capitalist society, all roads have been privatised. The road in which I live is provided and maintained by Acme Roads Ltd. This company is in competition with another provider called XYZ Roads Ltd. If two competitors operate on one physical road, where is the competition? They must each operate their own.
I decide that I am unhappy with Acme Roads Ltd who own and provide access service between my home and the main road. I therefore take my custom to their competitors XYZ Roads Ltd. My neighbour decides to stay with Acme Roads Ltd. So the only thing to do is for XYZ Roads Ltd to build another overhead road to my house. Acme Roads Ltd then block off their ground level access to my house while XYZ Road Ltd provide me with a ramp to their elevated road.
Ridiculous in the extreme, but I believe the principle is established that there are some things which just cannot be done on the basis of true private commercial competition.
Parent Page ©December 1996 Robert John Morton