A very civil servant

Posted on September 1st, 2009 by Bernie Russell

Anyone heard of Sir John James Cowperthwaite? I hadn’t until last week, when I came across his name in a review of a book about Hong Kong.

But we should campaign for a statue of him to be erected in Whitehall. preferably in front of the Treasury, and preferably big enough to block the entrance.

Sir John joined the British Colonial service in Hong Kong in 1941. When he returned after his war service in 1945, he was asked to find out how the government could boost the colony’s post-war economy.

There’s nothing we can do…
However, Sir John noticed that the economy was doing fine without government intervention, and deduced from this that the best thing the government could do was nothing.

So why not do nothing?
And that’s what he had it do. Non-intervention was the order of the day. He even refused to allow the collection of economic statistics in case it encouraged bureaucrats to meddle in the economy.

Imagine that – a world with no books to cook.

Sir John died in Scotland on January 21, 2006, aged 90.

They don’t make them like him any more.

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