I thought I was a shareholder in Britain
The funding, running and maintaining of our essential services has become such a complete and utter farce that, like a growing number of people, I despair at and hold in contempt, those private companies and successive governments who are responsible. Energy, the Emergency Services, Health and Social Care, Education, Water, Transport, Law, Order and Justice – and now the Royal Mail: how dare they! How very, very dare they…
I would re-nationalise our essential services in a heartbeat. I don’t believe that the private sector should be offered public contracts which are of national common interest, import and necessity. And I’m tired of hearing that state ownership is bureaucratic and unwieldy. It doesn’t have to be and anyway, we, the people: we are the State! Or at least we’re bloody well supposed to be and it’s flamin’ well time we were. This point actually bothers me the most because I vote, pay taxes and pay the wages of politicians as my consent for them to act on my best behalf. We pay them to know – or find out – to negotiate, advocate and to oversee. We pay them to work for us and they increasingly don’t – or can’t. Which is worse?
Why can’t the taxpayers own the services? It’s much better than some detached profiteer owning us! Government just has to press the magic money button. Better to invest etheric capital on the preservation and renewal of national infrastructure than give it to the banks to squander. In fact, why can’t a public body borrow in its own right like the private sector? It’s being suggested that councils should be able to borrow for the purpose of investment in housing. Why should ‘speculate to accumulate’ belong only to the private sphere and so-called ‘capitalists’? What inhibits a public body from using the vehicles available to the private sector is government policy.
I don’t know how feasible it really is to re-nationalise in its previously understood sense; if it’s as possible as I would like it to be, given the tangled knot, but I do know it’s possible to redress the wrongs and reconfigure the balance of power in these relationships. And I sure as hell know that privatisation was never necessary in the first place and that to do it again to any other service would be grossly ignorant and negligent.
If we step away from the politicising and just focus on the why of our wanting public ownership, the how might stand an ethical and sustainable chance of becoming.
I want my country’s interests represented by and reflected through respect for the needs and wishes of the people who live in it. I want the taxable revenue to stay in the country; the profit to be reinvested in service and workers rather than boosting the CEO’s coffers. I want the State to work in my favour. I want the externalities such as the long-term costs of environmental and social impact to be properly factored into decisions. I want everyone to have the same high quality and ease of access to each service regardless of who they are or where they live. (Actually that’s a global aspiration, too…)
I want those services and resources upon which everyone depends for their common and basic needs to be in the control and interests of the people who use them. I don’t want some foreign-based and sometimes actual other sovereign interest owning such essential assets – owning us. I want the government to ensure, as far as is possible, that only those whose motives are the well-being, prosperity and sustainable sustenance of the land and people first should be allowed to invest in our country: to invest in us.
I don’t want some multi-national corporation owning and exploiting the heart out of our domestic and wider planetary resources. I don’t want profiteers exploiting the government – colluding with it even, to suck dry our country’s security, prosperity, or conscience. Selling us cheaply and selling us out: now that is cheap.