Edward W. Conrad Quotes

Free enterprise picks investments successfully by running millions of experiments, and the survival of a product depends on its producing more value per dollar of cost than other products do. Competition ruthlessly prunes products that fail to meet this threshold. The public sector works in the opposite way; it undertakes large investment with virtually no competition.

This is a noteworthy quotation because it illustrates—to a slightly exaggerated degree—a major difference between the public and private sectors. However, Conrad fails to point out that when government does try and establish several competitive programs and approaches, conservatives like him are the first say that the government officials do not know what they are doing and then they object to the “duplication” and “waste.” Further, usually, when a government entity does experiment as the private sector competitive system does, it is chastised by liberals and conservatives alike for having had attempts that failed or did not succeed well. Experimenting requires a cultural tolerance for failure or imperfection. Only very courageous executive politicians like President Franklin Delano Roosevelt have been able to initiate many programs aiming at the same objective with the society keeping the best—like Social Security and rejecting the worst like the National Recovery Administration. See {631419} for his view.

Edward W. Conrad, Managing Director, Bain Capital, “Unleash the Private Sector”, Foreign Affairs, May-June 2013

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