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Humans have always found it hard to cope with the idea that every individual has a lifespan even as life itself goes on. The idea of a natural life cycle for a business, or industrial centre, is even more difficult to accept.
Adam Smith had not imagined a world in which the Wealth of Nations would cross the world digitally at the click of a mouse. Nor had he envisaged one in which legislation would be drafted by paid lobbyists.
If the winner of the competitive race is the company that is most innovative, not in productive efficiency or customer service, but in the ingenuity and opacity of its tariff structures, consumers will not be happy, or well served, in the long run.
The books that Britain exports have long been made from trees grown abroad. Then globalisation meant the paper was also made abroad, and increasingly the printing took place overseas. Soon selling a book will involve no physical objects. The division of labour becomes ever finer and generally increases the wealth of all involved in the production process.
A business secretary should focus on issues that enable business to improve how it serves the public. He should not act as a super lobbyist collating the suggestions of the chief executives and public relations consultants constantly banging on his door.