Economists have developed the concept of ‘merit’ to help explain why the state may intervene to provide certain goods and services directly, or to redistribute disposable incomes so as to increase the consumption of certain goods and services provided by the market. It is argued that some things are so meritorious (central to a civilized life or to the general national interest) that, even if an unregulated free market system ‘could’ provide them, the state ‘should’ nevertheless involve itself to ensure that a suffi cient quantity of an appropriate quality at an affordable price is, in fact, provided.
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