|megpie71 (megpie71) wrote,|
@ 2018-04-22 10:49:00
A Government Motto I'd Like To See
I have a dream. I have a dream that someday, some political party will be elected to government on the platform of "It is not our job to ensure your business model remains forever profitable".
I was born in the early 1970s. I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, at the beginning of the whole "neo-liberal" experiment. One of the big selling points of privatisation - the selling off of government assets and transferring them into the hands of private companies - was this: the private sector, we were told, was inherently more flexible and adaptable than the public sector. The public sector bureaucracies were behemoths, dinosaurs where it took a week for the head to realise the hindquarters were being bitten by a predator. The private sector was flexible, adaptable, quick to respond and far more in tune with what people wanted overall, and therefore was a much better choice to deal with the tasks of running various enterprises in the public interest.
Thirty years later, after much forcible asset-stripping on the part of various governments, and much cutting back of the public sector, we're starting to see this isn't necessarily the case. Instead, it appears any large enterprise, be it public or private, will tend to ossify into bureaucratic ineptitude, slow responses and lack of service. The problem is, when it happens in the private sector, what tends to accompany it is squeals for the government to change the rules so the money will keep flowing into the company coffers. Rather than alter their business model to deal with the circumstances, the company directors attempt to lobby the government to alter the circumstances to suit their business model - a wonderful case of the tail attempting to wag the dog.
This leads to things like the mining sector screaming blue murder about any attempt to tax excessive profits while asking for massive subsidies and concessions, the banking sector both here and overseas being declared "too big to fail" (and thus propped up through their misdeeds and the financial convulsions these cause), and numerous corporate lobbyists infesting the houses of every parliamentary or congressional body around the world in order to ensure the sacred business models are defended.
So what's needed, in a very real sense, is a political party (or a coalition of independent MPs) which has the gumption and backbone to say to the business world that it is not the business of government to ensure their business models remain profitable. It is not the business of government to lower minimum wages, remove working conditions, and get rid of penalty rates in order to ensure their marginal business makes a profit. It is not the business of government to compensate a real-estate speculator for the costs of having made a bad decision, such as buying up land which has been within the reserve area of a major industrial zone for the past four decades. It is not the business of government to undercut consumer protections and consumer rights in order to obtain trade treaties whose only value appears to be to the bottom lines of foreign-owned multi-national corporations. It is not the business of government to ensure a market for housing investment remains forever buoyant at the expense of actually providing accommodation for families and individuals.
Instead, the business of government should be to provide those services to the population the private sector is unable (or unwilling) to provide, and to ensure a certain core level of basic service is provided to everyone, regardless of income. Things like providing basic bank accounts, with minimal transaction fees. Things like providing a telecommunications network which is appropriate to the needs not only of the present day, but also of the future. Things like providing and maintaining hospitals, schools, roads, ports, railways, and so on - and providing them in an effective and efficient fashion, for the greater benefit of the public good. Things like being the housing lender and housing provider of last resort. Things like planning for a future which is more than five years away - a good government should be planning for fifty, or even a hundred years in the future... rather than, for example, closing schools in certain areas, selling off the land for short-term profit, and then being surprised when twenty years later, it appears there's a need for schools in those areas again.
I would love to see any political party with the nous, the savvy and the backbone to point this out to the business sector. To be willing to say to them "it is not our job to ensure your business model remains profitable". To point out if things aren't working, it is their responsibility to alter to suit the changing times, not the responsibility of the times to alter to suit them. The business sector for a good thirty years has been telling us repeatedly they're more flexible, more adaptable, and better suited to the ownership of various (profitable) assets than the public sector. So how about they put their money where their collective mouth is, and prove it?
This entry was originally posted at https://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/117407.h