Monday, 21 February 2011

O Brave New World…

(… that has such people in't, as Prospero says).

The Prime Minister wants to privatise public services

"We will create a new presumption – backed up by new rights for public service users and a new system of independent adjudication – that public services should be open to a range of providers competing to offer a better service. 

Right. Because corporations are so competent, compete freely on quality and price, and always have the consumers' best interests at heart.

Do they ever operate cartels to fix prices? Oh yes.
Do private healthcare firms cheat their customers? Why yes, they do.
Is privatised rail travel cheaper and better? Well, no. And taxpayers are funding the 'privatised' companies more than we funded British Rail.
Surely something's worked better in the private sector? How about Directory Enquiries (the 118 numbers). Sorry: the prominent firms cost about £1.40 to dial and then take many more pounds off you if you let them 'complete' your call.

Well, look, surely the corporations, because they're driven by a need to make profits, are rational and clever?

I don't even need links for this one. Just a list.

Royal Bank of Scotland
Northern Rock
Bradford and Bingley
Goldman Sachs
Lehman Brothers
JP Morgan
(and for the historians)
Guinness / Distillers / Mirror Group and many, many more.

What about the privatised industries? Haven't they thrived, once freed from the dead hand of the state? To name but a few:

British Steel
British Coal
British Nuclear Fuels

Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear oh dear.


Benjamin Judge said...

I almost totally agree with you, but I do wish you would not use phrases such as "To name but a few" because it is just reads as "To name a selective few that fit my argument".

These arguments are too important to be made in a manner so easily pulled apart by your critics.

More facts and less rhetoric sir!

The Plashing Vole said...

Well, actually it's because there's a long list and I wasn't sure how much historical knowledge people had - or patience.

Successful privatisations: British Airways. Successful if you're a shareholder: British Gas and British Telecom. Very unsuccess if you're a user.

Isn't all argument selective?

Benjamin Judge said...

Well, yes and no.

Argument that seeks to find a truth cannot be selective. Argument that is merely sport is always selective.

The Plashing Vole said...

I see your point but I don't think an unselective argument is possible. Marx had a good go, but there's no Theory of Everything. Partly because there are always perspectives. But I do think that capitalism has an inherent tendency to cause crises.