Friday, 9 March 2012

An Alternative To Nationalisation

Here we go again. In the past 12 months, we've had significant hikes in our gas, water and electricity bills and now we face above-inflation increases in train fares which are already the most expensive in Europe.
To many on the left, the obvious solution is to renationalise them which is a fair point. I have long argued that such vital utilities like gas, water and electricity are too important to be trusted to private companies who by definition are there to make as much profit as possible with the result being the customers are forced to pay ever rising rates or go without.
The utility companies especially, collude to raise prices together so the two positives on which privatisation is sold to us are made redundant. It doesn't give competition because they all cost the same and it hasn't kept the price down, a glance at your utility bill will painfully show that.
So renationalising seems a no-brainer, only i don't think our current fiscal position will allow for that even if we pay the companies what they paid for them originally but there is an alternative to outright nationalisation. Instead of dismantling privatisation, take it on at it's own game and start up our own utility companies.
The Government toyed with the idea of creating a National Bank when all the other privately owned banks were falling over, so why not a National Gas, Electric and Water company?
When it comes to your utilities, the only considerations you have are price and reliability and the Government wouldn't need to pay shareholders dividends or obscene salaries to the bosses so they could vastly undercut the profit driven companies currently ripping us off. They would have to cut their own prices to compete or face a massive loss of customers to the new Government run utility.
After the most important aspects are up and running, we can begin looking at things like the railways which have been shamefully ripping us off ever since Thatcher gave them the green light to do so back in the 90's or push on with the idea of that National Bank which seems to have been kicked into the long grass.
There is a ready made market just waiting for these things to happen because unless the Government does something, the utility, railway and finance companies will carry on happily fleecing us and why let their shareholders make billions out of us when we can be the ones benefiting from it?

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

i think you should nationalize everything. after all it worked so well for the ussr, cuba, china, and n. korea. i mean, look at how prosperous they are/were.

poor china, they are about have hard times now that they have started privatizing...

q

Anonymous said...

i think you should privateise everything. after all it worked so well for the Greeks, Spanish, Italians, and Icelanders. i mean, look at how prosperous they are/were.

Anonymous said...

yeah them too

q

Anonymous said...

privatizing doesn't work when tax the the blood out of them to pay for all the social programs and fewer people work than receive handouts...

in those countries the privitaztion is fake...

q

Lucy said...

Why the rant about Communism q? The post was about a possible alternative to nationalisation and how the vital things like electric, water and gas are too important to be trusted to people who make a profit from it. You should be happy about it because it doesn't touch upon your Gordon Gekko-ish beliefs.

Anonymous said...

lucy,

good grief, if it isn't run by people wiht an obvious motive, it is run by people with hidden motives. capitalist motives are pretty damn obvious.

highly regulated companies, insurance for example, are allowed to make 5 5o 10% profit. i've never seen a government run entity without waste that exceeded 5 to 10%, then there is the lack of innovation, and the lack of effort that comes with a government job, only made worse by the eventual benefits the workers get by voting for themselves (pensions, health care, etc).

q

Anonymous said...

that's why the rant.

you are always so against a profit. well, profit creates a transparent motive.

what i just describes is what happened in greece.

q

Cheezy said...

But ultimately, I find that what happened in Greece is a fantastic example of (insert pre-existing ideology here).

Oops, one problem though. The causes of the Greek crisis are incredibly multifarious and do not fit into any blithe left-wing or right-wing 'analysis'. Granted this hasn't stopped many people from trying though.

Lucy said...

I am still unsure how a post about using Capitalism to beat Capitalism can lead to a rant against Communism and those North Koreans. I'm not against profit, just against profit being put before the necessities of life. It's all part of my 'let's make things fairer' idea that haveaniceday was quick to dismiss as unworkable.

Anonymous said...

lucy my rant was about nationalization. i didn't rant about korea and i didn't mention communism. you injected communism and you cherry picked korea out of a lowly list.

all i pointed out was a list of nations famous for praising the virtues of nationalism and for distaining capitalism - sound like someone you know? and who wouldn't admire the thriving lives led by the peoples of those nations?

q

david g said...

Lucy, I have often wondered if Q foams at the mouth when he rants.

It's a shame that he continually undermines the caring essence of so many of your excellent posts.

As a Christian, he doesn't show much evidence of love either!

Anonymous said...

david g - i'm not sure that telling the truth by labeling you and asshole and a shit head is a sin... i mean the truth is the truth... shit head. a hypocritical shit head at that.

and when don't you foam at the mouth?

q

Anonymous said...

lucy,

your idea overall is worth a try; however, you will find that the government entity will end up needing a government subsidy to be competitive.

the best example in the usa is the post office. it got the land free. it doesn't have to pay income tax or property tax. the buildings were free. yet, it still cannot compete successfully against fed ex or UPS...

q

Nog said...

I thought the utilities in the UK were pretty thoroughly nationalized. Here, it's state by state, and sometimes locality by locality.

Also, the UK government has already nationalized a bank: namely the Bank of England, which was a private bank, and remained nominally private up through 1946 (although its independence was chipped away over the centuries).

Cheezy said...

"I thought the utilities in the UK were pretty thoroughly nationalized."

@ Nog. Not any more. Most public utilities were nationalised by Atlee's government as part of our post-war reconstruction program, but most of these were returned to the private sector, principally under Thatcher's government during the 1980s.

Since the onset of the GFC, nationalisation has been back on the agenda, but only for the financial sector. And to be honest, although nationalisation was necessary in the short term, I expect another big sell-off (of Lloyds and RBS in particular) when the price is right.

Also, saying that the independence of the Bank of England has been 'chipped away' over the years would have been correct up until 1997. That was when Gordon Brown allowed the bank to decide monetary policy without first consulting the government. He announced their independence during the same speech in which he also (infamously) said there would be "no more boom & bust" (haha)

@ David. Do you ever get totally bored with yourself? If I posted on a blog without ever actually saying anything of substance or addressing the topic of the post, I'd be catatonically bored... You must be very easily amused, young fella...