Examining reasons for public intervention
Deciding on the resources devoted to the maintenance and development of heritage artefacts entails making value judgments. There is a presumption that heritage services should be designed to benefit those who enjoy and pay for them. However, consumers of heritage services may not possess the knowledge or opportunity fully to enjoy them, throwing in doubt what their role should be in deciding on their scope and form. A common solution assumes that it is the state's role — advised by those in charge of heritage services — to run them and finance them out of taxation. Economists are critical of this approach because it assumes that the public interest in heritage services must necessarily entail public provision and those who enjoy them can only express their choices through the ballot box. This chapter argues that it is unnecessary to take a paternalistic stance for the very fulfillment of the principle of consumer sovereignty requires public intervention, notably in order to ensure that consumers know what their choices entail.
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