You can’t always get what you want

The Rolling Stones may have sung it, but apart from children, most of us know that it is true. To take a UK example. 84% of the British public believe that the National Health system should be run in the public sector yet slowly slowly, drip by drip it is being privatised. 66% of Brits believe that the railway system should be in public ownership, yet it is sold to the private sector on the grounds that only corporations can manage it successfully. What makes this even more macabre is that German state railways can set up corporations and run railways in Britain. Anybody but Brits in Britain it would seem.

It is not as though Corporations have a great track record. Take Capita, that great service supplier. From personal experience I can assure you that the nick name given by the financial services sector to this is actually Crapita, a far more appropriate title.

In 1515 Machiavelli published “The Prince”, a guide to running a state. He is clear about the role of mercenaries, you can’t trust them. They are only doing what they do for the money. For them that is all that matters. What was true then is just as true now. Yet still it goes on. Prison Service, Probation Service, Security Service all in the process of privatisation with absolutely no evidence that the result is any better.

Am I being hypocritical here?  After all, I have spend a life time in private enterprise and only a few months in the public sector. I don’t think so. What I know is that money is a good score card for a limited type of success, but only one type. Public service, the desire to do the “right” thing remains, for many, the best motivator. Unfortunately, not for our politicians


2 thoughts on “You can’t always get what you want”

  1. Great post. Unfortunately, I think this is the case throughout the “developed world” and it’s not appearing to get any better. The Australian private and public sector, is being sold, bit by bit, to overseas investors. It appears to be fueled, very much, by the Government. Why would a nations Government, want to sell off, its assets at such an alarming rate?

    I feel really bad for the farmers, who have lived on the land for generations and are needing to sell their homes and land to put food on the table for the families. It’s devastating. Even major landmarks around our capital cities, are literally flying the flag of other nations. Mind you, the nations buying up, have very strict laws about retaining its own property.

    If a nations Government is not going to look after its population, who’s going to?

  2. The problem with Public Services is that they go hand in hand with Public Service Unions and their sclerotic influence combined with the natural bureaucracy of the monolithic Health Service does not permit efficiencies from within. The cop out is of course privatisation where the battle with the unions is subcontracted to the private sector. I am not saying that there are not committed and enthused people working in the state sector, in fact my experience as a school governor has allowed me to meet some inspirational teachers who go far beyond their contracted role. The problem seems to be a combination of bureaucratic layers of management and outdated union representation of a vocal minority.

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