Do we need a Fifth Estate?

If Richard Reeves analysis of an individual-centric future proves to be correct (see post below), I believe we shall eventually move to a climate in which government exists to co-ordinate markets for public services, which are predominatly privately provided. If this is true, then the existing obsessional focus on free-market supply-side solutions -environmental trading, frantic house-building, on demand healthcare, and free financial markets - will need to be balanced with equally strong efforts of the demand-side. This process starts by actively shaping the values and desires of its customers to enable informed choices, but also extends far more widely - to rewarding habits which are profitable for society.  We can see this process accelerating already today with the government's obesity drive, which has been constuctively suported by industy and media alike.  This is collusive social conditioning.  Government as marketing. But how far does government actually have a mandate for this form of social leadership, I wonder?  And what new structures need to be in place to support it? And what sort of governance needs to be put in place? To be a trusted government should be easy.  But to be a trusted marketer may be a bridge too far?  This conflicted position - selling services which you do not deliver and for which you bear no accountability - may ultimately demand a different governance structure altogether. Are the media up to the task of marketing ombudsman? Or do we need a 5th or even 6th estate?


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