If We Can Put a Man on The Moon… authors John O'Leary and Bill Eggers have an interesting piece about how markets coordinate behaviors and goals better than many top-down systems (health care reformers, are you listening?):
The "Chicken Delivery System" of New York is pure chaos, with no one to complain to if you are unhappy. No one is in charge of getting chickens to Manhattan. But the organized chaos of the market delivers results that often surpass the highly organized public delivery systems in areas such as education and public safety. Indeed, the more complex the task, the harder it is for the highly organized, hierarchical public sector to cost-effectively deliver public value. Remove the information rich signals of price and profit, and you now face the daunting challenge of organizing productive activities in some other way. This isn't an argument for market anarchy, but merely a cautionary tale for those who would seek to expand the authority of government to achieve the public policy outcomes they desire.