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(Political rant) Any UK members here disgusted with the Tory sell-off of the Post Office?

Magnus_GrelichMagnus_Grelich Member Posts: 349
edited October 2013 in Off-Topic
Just when you think the Coalition (I don't even know why we're still calling it that, we know who's running the show) could be any more of a scumbag, it privatises what was once thought to be "the envy of the world". Not even Thatcher - who was notorious for privatising so much during her administration - dared to do such a thing.

What does this mean for the future? Time and again, we've seen that privatising ANYTHING is the death of it. To my knowledge, there has NEVER been a time when a service has been improved by this horrible sham of a sale. Thoughts, please.

Corvino

Comments

  • ajwzajwz Member Posts: 4,122
    Yes, It's also been really criminally undervalued when it was floated, which begs the question why it was put up for sale in the first place :/

    It's not just the Tories either, but the whole coalition, since it was Vince Cable who was heading up the sell off.

    CorvinoMagnus_Grelich
  • Magnus_GrelichMagnus_Grelich Member Posts: 349
    It just makes my brain spin, what was the actual point of any of this??

  • scriverscriver Member Posts: 1,676
    As a Swede, I feel your pain. The Swedish rightwing government recently sold of basically all of the state's assets, of which the most grating is the sale of the Apothecary/pharmacy, which previously was a state monopoly. Service, safety, prices and availability suffered immediately, of course. Then a year or so ago all the private companies started reporting they could no longer afford to run all the pharmacies they bought, particularly those in rural areas (which are extra important from a people perspective due to old people being dependent on them). So what did our glorious government do? Started paying them money to keep the pharmacies open. So where before we paid taxes and owned the pharmacies, we're now giving them money and get nothing in return except this vague promise of not shutting the pharmacies down. And they're shipping their winnings of to off-shore accounts, of course, and granting themselves great bonuses, all on the tax-payer's tab. Capitalism is grand innit?

    Magnus_GrelichFrozenCellsAristillius
  • CorvinoCorvino Member Posts: 2,269
    Despite every major political party in the UK claiming that they're not ideologically driven anymore, and that it's all about pragmatism the Tories do still seem to believe that market forces will cure all ills. For all Ed Milliband's bluster Labour are just as guilty of this.

    Agreed with @Magnus_Grelich, it's hard to think of any UK former national monopoly that got better after privatisation. Railways now cost huge amounts in fares with annual price hikes at twice inflation. BT still has an effective monopoly on telecoms upgrades (and gets literally every very lucrative Govt. contract) as it's the only telecom company with the size and infrastructure to carry them out.

    And let's not start on the public-private-partnership fiascos that lock public organisations into paying rent and maintenance on unneeded public buildings for decades. If they want to cancel the rent & maintenance on the underused site to downsize, they need to pay the private partner huge breach of contract fees. Thanks for that, Labour government of the late 90s & early 2000s.

    As for the post office selloff, let's just see how long it takes before we're paying to recieve our mail and deliveries get cut to twice weekly.

    Magnus_Grelich
  • ajwzajwz Member Posts: 4,122
    I'm not totally against privatisation of state assets - for example, durin a recession, it can be a smart way to raise cash for increased public spending.
    But the timing of this was totally off. It's a shame if the post office waasn't profitable, but that doesn't mean we have reduced our liability if something goes wrong, since presumably we'd have to bail out a failing company if we wanted to mainitain a postal system, with tens of thousands of employees.

    It's just symptomatic of the baffling way this government handles these sort of things. Remember the problems when the contracts for running the east coast mainline was screwed up and given to the highest bidder who had neither the assets or any experience in actually running anything?
    Or the 4g bandwidths auction raising far less money than anticipated?

    if you want to know the direct mechanism by which political contributions by companies and individuals end up being rewarded then look no further.

    Magnus_Grelich
  • Magnus_GrelichMagnus_Grelich Member Posts: 349
    edited October 2013
    Whatever the motivations or intentions of privatisation, it will always seem to me a dangerous and irresponsible game of chance and greed for the benefit of upper-class twits with no understanding of what real people are like or how they live.

    If there is any method behind this, some form of social engineering to make us think of 'nationalisation' as a dirty word, I truly do not know.

  • HeindrichHeindrich Member, Moderator Posts: 2,959
    I have mentioned elsewhere on this forum that 1) I have grown up in and live in the UK. 2) I consider myself a conservative. (though not in the sense that I am a Conservative Party member... though I did vote for them in the last General Election.)

    I could write an essay on the problems Britain (and most Western democracies) face. But I will just say that for generations the political system has incentivised politicians to choose easy options that boosted living standards in the present, whilst accumulating a growing debt burden to be dealt with 'tomorrow'. Tomorrow has arrived. The credit card limit has been reached/broken. The unspoken deal between British voters and politicians (give us the best deal you can NOW and we will vote for you Today) is no longer sustainable. Austerity is not a choice, it is the horrible consequence of decades of unsustainable consumption. At a time when the government SHOULD be jacking up government expenditure to boost the economy, it is forced to make cuts which threaten to derail the very economic recovery needed. Thankfully Britain has not fallen into a vicious deflationary cycle like Greece, and hopefully we will never get there.

    On the matter of privatisation. Whether it works out for better or worse depends on the industry in question, and how well the process is managed. I am not an expert in Royal Mail specifics, so I cannot really comment with any confidence. But what is clear is that certain industries should never have been privatised because they were better suited for a National Corporation to manage. The obvious ones are the Railways, Water and Electricity. All three require nationwide coordination, where a 'Planned Economy' delivers better results and efficiency than 'Market Forces'. In the case of water and electricity, there is also the issue that it seems plain wrong for so many companies to squeeze profit margins out of a population that has no choice but to pay whatever price they demand given how absolutely essential both are for simple survival.

    An example of how privatisation can work to the benefit of an economy and people? China, and also just about every other former-Communist countries that have enacted market reforms to make themselves more efficient and competitive.

    booinyoureyes
  • Magnus_GrelichMagnus_Grelich Member Posts: 349
    Supposition and selective facts.

    Do not speak to me of 'Austerity', that Conservative lie. There is ALWAYS another way. I am fully aware that some sacrifices have to be made to fix problems, but the day I hear a word of truth regarding this from those vultures...

    I'm not changing my mind on this, and I'm not about to enter a battle of words with someone whose affiliation is so clear.

  • ajwzajwz Member Posts: 4,122
    Austerity should be tackled by increasing taxes and reducing public spending.
    The conservatives have not increased any taxes for the duration of the recovery, and have instead slashed the rate of income tax for the richest people in the country by 5%.

    If you like, you can consider that the sell off of the post office is what paid for this.
    The standard of living continues its dramatic and continuos fall, and the wealth equality gap continues to widen at an accelerating pace.

    elminster
  • CorvinoCorvino Member Posts: 2,269
    I am not convinced by the current Goverment's austerity programme. In its scope it is short term, and many of the targets appear ideologically driven or are low-hanging fruit with little public sympathy (arts funding etc).

    There are a lot of very hard questions with significant financial implications that have been dodged. While the NHS does generally provide good value for money (as studies have borne out), costs of long-term care for older people are mounting.

    There does need to be a society-wide discussion on who pays for care, whether a person's house should be sold to pay or care if they are unlikely to return to it, and end-of-life care in general. This is one of many controversial issues that is never mentioned by politicians as it might lose votes, but needs to be talked about openly rather than introducted by the backdoor when times are tight.

    We have multilayered problems with the funding of our public services, as well as a shifting consensus on what they should offer. We don't need things shaken up or cuts made but rather a discussion on what the state is expected to provide and how we can fairly and reasonably pay for it. All we get is soft targets and tough talk though.

    Heindrichbooinyoureyes
  • PurudayaPurudaya Member Posts: 816
    edited October 2013
    I hear your frustration @Magnus_Grelich; at least be glad you don't live in the US where we have a party so extreme that it wants to privatize literally *every* state asset, including schools and the military. Under Bush, our congress actually voted to deliberately make the post office less efficient so they could justify privatizing it over time...it's a wonder it still exists.

    But hey, at least our taxes are nice and low in a system where most people no longer make enough money for that to matter. And all because there are just enough people out there who have been duped into believing that paying for everything out of pocket will somehow cost them less than a few percentage points of taxes will.

    Thinking more and more of becoming an expat. I hear Norway is nice...

  • ajwzajwz Member Posts: 4,122
    Trust me, the more I hear about US politics, the more glad I am to live in the UK

  • HeindrichHeindrich Member, Moderator Posts: 2,959
    @Magnus_Grelich

    I wonder if you even read anything past the first two lines of what I wrote, because I have no affiliation to any political party, so there is nothing 'clear' about it. I just happened to think that the Conservatives were the best of a bad bunch at the last General Election. That does not mean I am a party member or that I agree with all their policies.

    @Corvino

    Yes that's pretty much my point. For Democracy to truly work, people need to be better educated about politics and there needs to be an honest debate about the problems the country faces and the tough choices that needs to be made. Instead politicians continue to 'play the game of politics' that has got us into this mess in the first place.

    The reason that I say I am a 'conservative', is that I am socially conservative and economically liberal, in other words a Libertarian. I am a big fan of Ron Paul in the US and influenced by Robert Nozick's 'Anarchy, State and Utopia'.

    I believe that the state only has an obligation to provide Equality of Opportunity, and actual material Equality is not necessarily something society must strive for. In order to ensure Equality of Opportunity, education is the one thing that government must make accessible for all citizens, so actually I have been deeply opposed to the ludicrous tuition fee hikes in recent years enacted by both the Labour Government and the Coalition, because it cuts back in one area where I feel the state has an obligation to provide the best service possible for all citizens.

    At the heart of the debate is the conflict between Freedom/Liberty and Equality. We (general society) consider both to be 'good things to have', and yet they are inherently incompatible with each other. I made a choice on which value I regard as more important, but I am not blind to the problems it poses.


    Some examples:
    1) Inheritance is the personal liberty of an individual to leave their personal property with whomever they wish. Taxing it, let alone denying them this liberty, seems draconian. And yet my ideal 'Equality of Opportunity' cannot possible be achieved if Inheritance is legal, as it allows accumulation of wealth within families, and naturally gives some people a headstart over others.

    2) Capitalism as allowed/encouraged within Libertarianism enables, maybe even leads to, an inevitable concentration of capital amongst a tiny wealthy segment of society. As technology advances, the contribition/importance of Labour in comparison to Capital continues to decline in the economic system. This problem will worsen, because you need capital to play capitalism. Right now most of the world is avoiding talking about this uncomfortable truth, because when capitalists/economists talk about 'efficiency' and 'competitiveness', what they usually mean is replacing Labour with Capital. i.e. People replaced by Machines.


    I have no answers to those objections to the political ideology I have a natural affinity with. If I did, I'd revolutionise political theory across the world and probably cause a fair few revolutions in practise. lol

    booinyoureyes
  • Magnus_GrelichMagnus_Grelich Member Posts: 349
    @Heindrich1988 Yes, of course I did. You didn't make your case very clear, however, so what was I to think?

    Well, it's done now. I'm beginning to wonder what the point of this thread was. Doing anything proactive in this country is like banging your head against a brick wall.

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