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