March 11, 2015
Small still beautiful
The ideas contained in Locality’s report Local By Default make so much sense that there is a danger of complacency creeping in. The logic of the argument is so compelling that it’s hard to imagine any rational person disagreeing. And yet clearly there are many who oppose this way of thinking – particularly about public services. Command and control versus self-organised and self-managed, a belief that scale and standardisation will bring economies or that small is beautiful. Schumacher’s ideas ring true today as they did 40 years ago.
“Voluntary Agencies are of immense value. They tend to have virtually no power; they can offer no security of tenure to their staff. Hence they tend to attract people imbued with a genuine desire to help their fellow men and women and not lord it over them. The government machine is generally very efficient in raising money and relatively inefficient at spending it. Voluntary Agencies, on the other hand, have many people genuinely anxious to serve, which means they are very efficient in spending money; but they have great trouble in raising it. This seems to be an ideal situation for some kind of active symbiosis; let the government raise the money and let Voluntary Agencies spend it.”