Jacques Fournier

The Economics of Needs Publication date : February 21, 2013

Jacques Fournier is a high-ranking French civil servant who has directed several large public companies, including Gaz de France (1986-1988) and the French national railway (1988-1993). Previously, he served in the capacity of Associate General Secretary at the Elysée and then as General Secretary of the French government (1982-1986).

Under the joint pressures of laissez-faire economic policies and of massive government debt, is the public service doomed to be reduced to its bare bones? Why is the public service systematically regarded as an ‘expense’? Why is the value of the service provided never measured? It could be argued that what is at stake is nothing less than the public service’s economic — and human — finality.
In this book, Jacques Fournier reverses the usual viewpoint, arguing that the economics of needs obliges us to take into account basic human needs — health, education, housing, etc. — and to prioritise their satisfaction. Far from being a concept that aims to defend the public service, the economics of needs adopts a critical approach on behalf of those very needs: the goal being to provide better, more efficient, less bureaucratic services — in other words, to place the individual at the heart of the system.
This is Fournier’s starting point. He then examines how best to deal with the economics of needs: is it preferable to intervene locally or nationally? To what extent should citizens be expected to participate? Should service providers be public or private? How should the service be priced? How much of it should be free? How can social justice and efficiency be reconciled?

• An uncompromising view of France’s public service, written by a high-ranking civil servant.
• A solid theory backed by concrete examples.