As the 21st century progresses, it is becoming apparent that the ideals expressed in the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals will not be met under the prevailing market based economic policies. If the world is to achieve the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, universal primary education, improved health, lower infant mortality rates, equity, and sustainable development, there must be a positive plan built on a foundation of quality public services.
This paper examines the past, present and future of public services. It charts the actual development of public services, and the effect they have had on social cohesion and economic growth; the political structures and activity that creates and sustains them; and the current problems conditioned by neo-liberal globalization. This historical framework helps identify factors that may be more beneficial for the future of public services than the experiences and fashionable solutions of the last two decades.