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  1. Wealth
June 7, 2010

The Light Got In

By Spear's

Left-wing economist and newly appointed head of the review into public sector pay Will Hutton and Conservative rising star Jesse Norman MP formed an unlikely alliance at HowTheLightGetsIn, the world’s first philosophy and music festival, of which Spear’s is a media partner.

Left-wing economist and newly appointed head of the review into public sector pay Will Hutton and Conservative rising star Jesse Norman MP formed an unlikely alliance at HowTheLightGetsIn, the world’s first philosophy and music festival, of which Spear’s is a media partner. The duo gave audiences an indication of the conversation to come over the next few years in a political climate shaped by new allegiances.

Debating whether greed is still good and focusing on how a new and more just idea of human nature might feed into a more versatile economics, the panellists – drawn from both ends of the political spectrum – struck an unlikely consensus based on the need to move away from rational self-interest.

Despite accusing the new coalition government of committing “strategic mistakes”, Hutton and the Conservative Norman, an economist theorist of Cameron’s government, occupied a strange and unfamiliar new space.

Norman’s assertion that the “we need to take economics off its pedestal and stop being so enslaved by it” was met with agreement from Hutton, who quipped “I was just thinking how curious this new world is.”

They also agreed on the need to root out vested interest in economics. “Economics is coming out of the financial sector”, claimed Norman. “So there is a tremendous problem with vested interest when, guess what, it’s Goldman Sachs making the models.”

“We need to encourage people to a have a wider, richer debate about what economics is and how it should work. If we do that, we’ll emphasize three things that have dropped out of the equation: institutions, competition and entrepreneurship.”

Will Hutton called for “an era of public activism.” “We the public, through our institutions and through our actions are going to have to debate and formulate ideas. What we can’t do is to stand back and say that the market will solve it. It won’t.”

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