A Conversation With Harris & Seldon (Occasional Paper, 116) by Ralph Harris, Arthur Seldon

By Ralph Harris, Arthur Seldon

From the mid Fifties to the overdue Nineteen Eighties, Ralph Harris and Arthur Seldon, as basic director and editorial director respectively of the IEA, battled opposed to a standard knowledge which was once adversarial to markets. finally, by means of strength of argument, they overcame a lot of the resistance to industry principles, and within the strategy tested the Institute's bold impact in shaping either opinion and coverage. This Occasional Paper starts off with a transcript of a talk with Harris and Seldon which gives many insights into how they labored and what stumbling blocks they encountered. 8 unique students, every one conversant in the paintings of the Institute, then offer commentaries which determine its impact on pondering and the problem to executive which it constituted throughout the Harris/Seldon years.

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Extra info for A Conversation With Harris & Seldon (Occasional Paper, 116)

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He may have found his backroom boy. As the saying goes, I ran the engine room. RH: I kept the shop! How much is just pure chance and happy accident? But we had a complete division of labour. I would consult Arthur about financial matters and all of that, and he would always let me see manuscripts and even proofs. But he was publications. ’ And I learned not to try and breathe down his neck too fiercely. On the other hand, he was happy for me to raise money. The only arguments we ever had were: ‘Why don’t we spend more on publicity?

RH: There were lots of comments . . AS: There were lots of comments on that: he was right, he was wrong, he was half right, he was half wrong, but we made news. RH: Lees did a Hobart Paper called Health Through Choice, which 40 t h e c o n v e r s at i o n presented the classic contrast between a developing, ingenious, innovative, private, free-range scheme, and this stark state monopoly that we still have. He became a professor quite soon after that. By the way, we paid these authors peanuts.

The only arguments we ever had were: ‘Why don’t we spend more on publicity? ’ And it was a good point. If we had had unlimited money, we could have saturated the market with some of our writings much more quickly than we did. SE: I gather early on there was an important need to be provocative in what you wrote and said in order to gather some further attention? Was this a kind of cultural strategy? AS: One of Ralph’s virtues was that he could write well. He wrote leaders for the Glasgow Herald, which meant he wrote well.

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