Soon, I will return to more philosophical posts, but here I wish to remain a while in my mode of arguing that the market best allocates resources for art — as opposed to the government provision of the same. In this post from More Intelligent Life, Stephen Hugh-Jones writes of the National Gardens Scheme in the United Kingdom. According to the author:

They are among 3,500 gardens in England and Wales (the Scots, of course, have their own scheme) open to visitors for a day or two each year under the aegis of the 80-year-old National Gardens Scheme. To find what is open where and when, search the website by county or postcode. Habitual garden-strollers use the NGS’s annual directory. Selling 70,000 copies a year at £7.99 ($16) in even the most urban bookshops, it is by now so well-known that is called simply “The Yellow Book“. […]

The gardens may be huge or tiny, of modern design or traditional. Your hosts may be the Earl and Countess of Portsmouth or, much more likely, plain Mr and Mrs John Smith. The tea and cake that many of them serve will come from the house kitchen, and may well be dispensed by the lady of the house herself, while her husband does the hard work of talking to visitors about his plants. Your fellow-visitors, you’ll find, are mostly pensioners; gardens don’t offer the youthful thrills of sports cars, seduction or sand-castles. Alas, it’s not pure loss: old people don’t scream and scramble or (on the whole) seduce all over other people’s herbaceous borders, but they do like company.

Charity is a powerful market force. For many years, people have thought that economics only contains the domain of finances. Not so. Economics is the study of all of human behavior, or “human action,” and has for many years shown that charity may do much more good than government intervention — and where it is most desired. For these pensioners, I imagine the NGS is a wonderful getaway. The NGS website gives a small description of its charity element:

Few people realise that through this we raise £2 million each year for nursing, caring and gardening charities. Since 1927 we have raised over £40 million (£22 million in the last 10 years). Our office is small so most of the money goes straight to the charities we support.

I wonder how long the office would remain small if it became a government office. Okay, done wondering.

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