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Margaret Thatcher


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  #41 needles

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 11:54 AM

Cheers John.

Can I have a holiday in Florida please? :rofl:

I assume I won't have to pay anything towards it. :rofl:  :rofl:

 

Nae thanks, Wifey has booked us a holiday on the Isle of Mull in the Inner Hebrides. :cool:

That's if I can get there. :huh:

 

 


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Kindest regards

  #42 dodgy-alan

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 12:02 PM

Never in the field of British Politics, Has one person , been so divisive, to so many! (With apologies to Winston Churchill for paraphrasing him!) :D


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  #43 MartinW

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 05:31 PM

It would be true to say that I am not, and never could be, a fan of the objectionable Thatcher machine. My political philosophy is without doubt diametrically opposed to Thatcherism. The methods she used to achieve her goals were actually quite abhorrent, I speak of methods that harmed many and helped but a few. Short term pain for many, in order to provide long term gain for the lucky few.

 

Despite warnings from over 100 economists, Thatcher attempted to control the money in circulation in order to reduce inflation. It was an utter failure, inflation doubled in less than a year and her policies were ultimately responsible for a massive rise in unemployment. Council tax, destruction of the mining industry, selling off industries she had no right to sell off [industries that had already been paid for by the tax payer] In essence, the pursuit of policies that caused undue suffering for many working class men and women in this country. 

 

She was certainly bad for the country during her premiership, and unfortunately her influence lingers on. The causes of the present recession, unrestricted credit, deregulation and excessive financial speculation, date back to the early 80's. No government since has reversed the trend she set in motion, a curse we now all share.

 

However...

 

I can't think of anyone else I would have preferred as PM during the Falklands crisis. I truly believe that no other PM would have had the guts to do what she did and that the Falklands would now be in the hands of the Argentinians if it wasn't for Margaret Thatcher. We can also thank Margaret Thatcher, along with Ronald Reagan, for the role she played in the ending of the cold war.

 

So I don't begrudge Margaret Thatcher her fancy funereal. She was a women that loved her country, and as economically misguided as it was, absolutely believed her policies were the right ones. And as far as I'm concerned, the morons that choose to demonstrate during her funeral deserve a dammed good kick up the backside, for not having the common decency to behave during such an occasion.

 

 

P.S. I think it's awesome that someone else was having a heated debate with John, rather than me. :unclemartin:

 

 

 


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  #44 mutley

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 05:48 PM

Hello Uncle Martin, glad you could drop in!

 

Thanks for your two-penneth I thought you had disappeared from the forums.  


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  #45 allardjd

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 06:32 PM

You didn't bring Odai with you, did you?

John
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  #46 dodgy-alan

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 10:41 PM

:D  :D  :D  :whis:

You didn't bring Odai with you, did you?

John

 


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  #47 MartinW

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 08:11 AM

You didn't bring Odai with you, did you?

John

 

John, that's akin to an actor speaking the name of the Scottish play, outside of the theatre. You must turn around three times while chanting your favourite curse avoidance spell.  

 

Please do it now to avoid the curse.

 

The fate of the multi-verse is in your hands.


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  #48 dodgy-alan

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 08:35 AM

PMSL !! :D


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  #49 allardjd

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 06:28 PM


You must turn around three times while chanting your favourite curse avoidance spell.


Please do it now to avoid the curse.


The fate of the multi-verse is in your hands.


OK, anything for the cause...

Double, double, toil and trouble,
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Let Odai not come soil this blog.

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  #50 MartinW

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Posted 27 April 2013 - 03:38 PM

That will do nicely.


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  #51 allardjd

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 02:30 AM

OK, let's see if we can get some intelligent discussion going on this topic without personal attacks. This can be a Grand Experiment to see if we can discuss this kind of thing and remain civil to one another. We're big boys and I suspect that we can.

DISCLAIMER: Those of you who are UK residents are very likely much more conversant than I am on the details of Margaret Thatcher's domestic policies and economic measures. I know her more for her foreign policy, particularly the Falklands War and her partnership with the US and Ronald Reagan to trip up the Soviet Union. With respect to what she did domestically, I'm pretty much a babe in the woods other than to know that she was conservative and is famous for her quote, "The problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people's money.", which may not even have originated with her. Anyway, I make no claim of being very well read on the domestic situation in the Thatcher years.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Let me pose a question as a "straw man", and see if you can instruct me on where I'm wrong, if I am. This question, based on my low level of information on the Iron Lady's economic policies, does not represent a strongly held opinion on my part - just a seemingly plausible leap to see if there's anything to it.

Is it not possible that Thatcher's conservative fiscal policies, which some of you say are continued to this day by the Torys (Tories?) when they are in power, may have contributed in some way to the fact that the UK is not as deep in the public debt whirlpool as some of the other countries of Europe that were more profligate with social welfare programs funded by borrowed money, i.e. government bonds? I recognize that your economy is not the model of fiscal health at this time but you are markedly better than a number of similar sized economies on the continent. Can any of the credit for that go to Maggie and her conservatism, and if not, why not?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On another topic, selling off nationalized industries, someone complained earlier in the thread that she sold off industies that were bought and paid for by the citizens of the UK.

Which industries are those?

Were those industries built from scratch by the government, or seized or purchased at some point from private owners?

Did she not get a fair price for them from the private concerns to which she divested them?

Which industries do you think it right and proper for government to own and operate?

Given government's unparalleled capability to be a model of inefficiency and waste for most everything they set their hand to, why would it ever be better to have an industry nationalized, i.e. owned and operated as a monopoly by the government?

If a nationalized industry is not a monopoly, what business has government of being in competition with private businesses?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Let the games begin...


John
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  #52 allardjd

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 03:56 AM

@ Kasper -
 

I am mildly surprised with the overall feelings concerning politicians. As a local (part time) politician I am still surprised with the barely concealed threats, sometimes overt agression and even hate we (politicians) are supposed to put up with. Believe it or not most of us are doing what we do out of conviction. I know that I don't make any net money for doing 16 hours a week of political work on top of my 40 h/week day job.


To address the low esteem in which politicians are held, at least here in the US, let me generalize.

One part of it flows from the fact that most politicians, at least at the State and National level here in America, are law school graduates, if not lawyers. I guess that's not entirely inappropriate for people whose profession is to make, execute and interpret laws. However, lawyers are almost universally mistrusted and maligned. It's the profession we love to hate, along with politicians. Some of that is due to the fact that lawyers are trained to be able to take either side of a case or issue and promote it as effectively as if they believed in it personally.

Of course our justice systems require that - if lawyers did not have that capability many accused would never be able to have an adequate defense, to which they are certainly entitled. Nonetheless, human nature is such that those who are able and willing to engage in that kind of professional behavior are not easily trusted - are they speaking for themselves or for whoever is paying the fees? In a word, it appears that their opinions and forensic skills can be bought. Of course we paint all politicians with the same brush, so even those who do not hold law degrees mostly have the same initial disadvantage in trust, however unfair that may be.

Secondly, once the holder of a law degree enters politics, it seems that they come under the ironclad sway of a new master, their political party. I think it is fair to say in the US that most politicians at the Federal level and a good many at the State and local levels, behave as if their first loyalty is neither to the country nor to their constituents, but rather to their party. They seem to operate on the premise that whatever is good for their party is, by definition, good for the country and for their constituents, whether said constituents are too unenlightened and backward to realize it or not. I don't contend that they all necessarily feel that way in their heart of hearts, but most certainly act as if they do.

I have a theory that when a newly elected Congressman or Senator arrives in Washington, there is very soon a come-to-Jesus meeting with someone in the party heirachy during which some things are explained to them, all with plausible deniability. I suspect that they are told in suitably unattributable and veiled terms how they are expected to behave and how they are to vote on legislation. They refuse at their peril - those who do not play along get a broom closet office down the hall from the boiler room, a parking spot in Arlington, no support for any constituent issues, no committee appointments, no positive publicity from the party or party leadership and the threat of no funding or support from the party for their re-election campaign. In addition, the party will seek and support primary opponents at their next election cycle, so they may not even depend on their party's nomination for their current seat next time around. That's the price of not playing. It's a rare politician who can resist that, unless he sees himself as an involuntarily disengaged one-termer who enjoys the wail of boiler feed pumps.

Additionally, the thing goverments seem to do best is to grow government. It's a rare administration at any level that does not seek to expand government oversight, regulation and "services", all of which argue for ever increasing government budgets and ever more government employees. Citizens do not much enjoy taxes and governments are unceasingly seeking a greater and greater share of their citizen's assets through overt and hidden taxes in exchange for... well, for whatever they are willing to provide, much of which is onerous to the taxed citizen anyway.

Finally, there is the matter of government benefits, pensions, perks, salaries and privileges for politicians. At the national level, they seem to be very well paid, very well treated and typically vote to exempt themselves from the most onerous of the measures they inflict on the citizenry. They extend to themselves benefits that the populace rarely enjoys. As a single for-instance, in the US, a Representative or Senator who serves any part of an elected term (2 years and 6 years, respectively) qualifies upon reaching retirement age, for a pension equal to 100% of his salary. That kind of thing does not endear them to the electorate, but it goes on and on and on.

Elections would seem to be the remedy for all this, however the parties seem to provide little in the way of alternatives, one candidate being much like another, differing only by degree and by whether they have been the subject of an ethics investigation yet or not. Once they have a place at the public trough, they seem to enjoy the feed and want more of it.

I apologize if this is harsh. I recognize that there are certainly exceptions to the above and that what I describe may not be at all accurate for other countries or specifically for your country and location within it. I'll assume that you are in fact an exception to the above. Nonetheless, it's my personal opinion that the vast majority of politicians of most of the parties in most countries behave as if what I have written above is pretty much true. Maybe I have it wrong, but from where I sit, it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck - perhaps I can be forgiven for thinking that it does indeed have feathers around its butt.

I'm not anti-government, though the above might make it seem so. Our Constitution contains many checks and balances that mostly keep the abuses to tolerable levels and allows us to live reasonably happy lives, to enjoy liberty and to exercise the specific freedoms that are enshrined in it. Goverment is necessary and is infinitely preferable to a society that does not live under the rule of law. Abraham Lincoln's phrase, "...goverment of, by and for the people..." captured the essense of what it should be and what we strive for, but there are days it seems like we've strayed far from that, if indeed we ever had it. I'll end this with a favorite Churchiill quote - "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."

John
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  #53 MartinW

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 02:17 PM

On another topic, selling off nationalized industries, someone complained earlier in the thread that she sold off industies that were bought and paid for by the citizens of the UK.

Which industries are those?

 

It was one policy, that led to more than 50 companies being sold or privatised.

 

Thatcher was responsible, but much of the impetus came from her pal, Keith Joseph. A fan of the same economic theorist. Can't remember the guys name.

 

Just some of them...

 

British Petroleum October 1979

British Aerospace February 1981

Cable & Wireless October 1981

Amersham International February 1982

National Freight Corporation February 1982

Britoil November 1982

Associated British Ports February 1983

Enterprise Oil July 1984

Jaguar August 1984

British Telecommunications December 1984

British Shipbuilders 1985 onwards

British Gas December 1986

British Airways February 1987

Rolls-Royce May 1987

BAA July 1987

British Steel December 1988

Water December 1989

Electricity 1990

 

 

 

Privatisation can be both good and bad. Despite many of the thatcher privatised companies being part or fully owned by foreign companies, they have proved to be lucrative investments. However, there's the downside. The biggest Thatcher privatisation failure was that of British Rail. Since the privatisation, the amount of government subsidies to the rail industry has risen higher than it was in its state-run days. In 2011 rail travel was said to be a "rich man's toy".

 

The most damaging legacy though, has been job losses. In the decade after the miners strike, more than 200,000 jobs were lost as a result of coal privatisation, as well as creating the largest British industrial conflict of modern times. 100,000 jobs lost at BT. 15,000 at ICI. The government's couldn't care less attitude to the consequences of the changes, and the resulting sudden, mass unemployment led to the transformation of what was once a region booming from steel industry, to one of the most impoverished in the country. By the time it was privatised in 1988, British Steel had shed 20,000 jobs.

 

It would be fair to say that a degree of privatisation was necessary, so as to adapt to increasing foreign competition. But the devastating impact of communities is felt right up to today.

 

Personally, I have no issue with a degree of privatisation, but for Margaret Thatcher it was all or nothing, no balance. Privatize everything under the sun, whether you like it or not. Companies care about only one thing, profit. With that in mind, my opinion would be that vital industries, industries that if run unscrupulously, could be detrimental to the public, should remain state owned. 

 

I don't believe gas water and electricity should have been privatised. Thus transferring our national assets into private hands. The corporations that run them make multi-billion profits, while we all pay ridiculously high prices. And when the price of gas and oil goes down, we still don't see a drop in our energy bills. We are being ripped off.

 

 

The iron lady was an extremist, and extremism is never a good thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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  #54 MartinW

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 02:31 PM

Is it not possible that Thatcher's conservative fiscal policies, which some of you say are continued to this day by the Torys (Tories?) when they are in power, may have contributed in some way to the fact that the UK is not as deep in the public debt whirlpool as some of the other countries of Europe

 

I would say no. The causes of the present recession, unrestricted credit, deregulation and excessive financial speculation, date back to the early 80's, date back to Thatcher and Keith Joseph's policies. Both of them were influenced by the same economic theorist. Professor Patrick Minford's theories I believe.

 

The reforms in the City of London, courtesy of Thatcher, have been seen by some as an early contributory factor in the unsustainable expansion of the banking industry. The obsession with minimal regulation which prevailed prior 2008 was another legacy of Margaret Thatcher.

 

Taxes under Thatcher, on the rich and business were slashed, yet hiked for the rest of us.

 

 

Then of course we have... arming Saddam in Iraq and Suharto in Indonesia, resisting sanctions on apartheid in South Africa. Labelling Mandela “a terrorist”, and supporting fascist regimes like that of Pinochet in Chile.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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  #55 MartinW

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 02:55 PM

A bit more...

 

The selling off of council housing, accounts for today’s housing shortage which sees over 4.5 million in the UK, on housing waiting lists.

 

Rent controls were abolished – leaving millions paying over the odds, and all of us funding a £23 billion annual bill for housing benefit, while landlords got tax breaks!

 

Thatcher's government created mass unemployment and demonised those out of work.

 

 

 

 

 


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  #56 ddavid

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 02:56 PM

I hope you're taking notes, John. Martin's synopsis of Thatcherism is pretty accurate.

Thanks, Martin - your list of companies privatised includes many I'd overlooked.

Cheers - Dai.
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  #57 MartinW

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 03:21 PM

I hope you're taking notes, John. Martin's synopsis of Thatcherism is pretty accurate.

Thanks, Martin - your list of companies privatised includes many I'd overlooked.

Cheers - Dai.

 

 

What fascinates me, is how Thatcher was warned by a multitude of economists in the early 80's, that her polices would plunge the U.K. economy into a deep recession. She ignored them, and we were plunged into deep recession. Despite soaring unemployment and a stubbornly high deficit, she refused to admit that her policies had backfired, famously remarking, in 1981, “the lady’s not for turning.”

 

 

Today we have Cameron. Economists warned him not to cut too hard, too fast, or we would end up with a double dip recession. So what did he do? He ignored them. And we were plunged into a double dip recession. And we have just narrowly avoided a triple dip recession. And STILL he clings to a strategy that isn't working.

 

Olivier Blanchard, the chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, has warned Cameron, that by sticking with austerity policies in the face of prolonged economic weakness, he is playing with fire.

 

Interesting article...

 

http://www.newyorker...-economics.html

 

 


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  #58 allardjd

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 03:55 PM

I hope you're taking notes, John.


Well, I'm taking note, if not exactly taking notes.

His response suggests many questions, particularly about nationalized industries. It will probably be tonight before I can do any serious work on this.

John
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  #59 allardjd

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 04:51 AM

...policy, that led to more than 50 companies being sold or privatised.


Holy Cow!!! Do you mean to say that the British government owned and operated more than 50 companies? That sounds utterly fantastic to me for a Western, free market, nominally capitalist nation. I'm not sure Argentina has that many state-owned businesses, and they LOVE to nationalize businesses. I'm still trying to get my head around that concept.

What business does government have being in so many businesses? I can see the postal service, and possibly a national airline and a national railway system, though the latter two may not necessarily be a good idea. Anything much beyond that just seems a relatively absurd situation, particularly since governments are usually not very good at running anything efficiently or effectively or meeting the needs of their customers, never mind turning a profit.

I believe you, but I just find that an incredible situation. If I'd been her, I think I'd have been sorely tempted to do the same for the simple reason that, in my opinion, government has no business being in business. Government's charter is to see to the safety, defense and well-being of the nation and the populace (or ought to be), not to be a uni-national mega corporation or the employer of choice for the nation.

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The biggest Thatcher privatisation failure was that of British Rail. Since the privatisation, the amount of government subsidies to the rail industry has risen higher than it was in its state-run days.


I don't understand. If it was privatized, why is government subsidy involved. Privatization to me means that it is sold to a private company who will own and operate it as a business. If that's not what happened and if it's still being run with government money, was is really privatized?

In 2011 rail travel was said to be a "rich man's toy".


I don't understand that either. In what way is British Rail a toy of rich men. I don't think it means that only rich men use it, but can't work out the meaning of that.

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The most damaging legacy though, has been job losses. In the decade after the miners strike, more than 200,000 jobs were lost as a result of coal privatisation, as well as creating the largest British industrial conflict of modern times. 100,000 jobs lost at BT. 15,000 at ICI. The government's couldn't care less attitude to the consequences of the changes, and the resulting sudden, mass unemployment led to the transformation of what was once a region booming from steel industry, to one of the most impoverished in the country. By the time it was privatised in 1988, British Steel had shed 20,000 jobs.

It would be fair to say that a degree of privatisation was necessary, so as to adapt to increasing foreign competition. But the devastating impact of communities is felt right up to today.


It doesn't sound that much different from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Gary, Indiana, and a good part of the region between them at about the same time. Those were the main centers of the steel industry in the United States. The industry simply collapsed in a fairly short time, mainly due to foreign competition - the US companies were not government owned or operated and most of them simply couldn't make a go of it. Tens of thousands of steelworkers and others in subordinate businesses lost their jobs. The region today is still referred to as the "Rust Belt" and is in bad shape.

The high wages and antiquated production facilities here could not compete economically with Japanese and other far-East steel. I remember a shipment of small size key stock arriving at the plant where I worked at about that time, banded to sticks of bamboo to prevent them bending in transit. Clearly the steel did not come from Pittsburgh.

Is it possible that the collapse of the industry and the fortunes of the workers were inevitable, the result of international market conditions and not so much from being privatized? That's a question, not an assertion. I'm in learning mode here.

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Privatize everything under the sun, whether you like it or not.


Is that literally true? Did she in fact privatize EVERY business that was owned by the government?

If not, were the things not privatized things she chose to keep under government operation, or simply government industries she could not find private buyers for?

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Companies care about only one thing, profit.


Agree - that's what they exist for and what they are supposed to do. Not only is that very likely inherent in their documents of incorporation for corporations, I suspect that there is a legally enforceable obligation on them to do that. Few corporations are privately held - most are publicly traded and so the shareholders are the owners and beneficiaries of any profit beyond that needed to maintain and grow the company (i.e retained earnings).

The Boards of Directors also have a legal obligation to oversee the operation and finances of the companies for which they are responsible, to assure that they are being legally and properly run and that the profit motive is properly served, as it should be. That's their job.

For companies operating in a free and competitive market, it's the natural course of things that both employees and customers also benefit from the success of well run companies. Competition, if not unfairly diddled with by government regulation, should assure that prices are fair without the government having to set or control prices directly - competitive forces will do that to the extent that fair competition exists. Government should enforce that, prevent monopolies, collusion, conspiracy and price-fixing, but should not do things to affect competition. Wages and benefits (the latter sometimes in the form of company stock) tend to be good or poor according to the business and financial fortunes of the companies they work for.

Workers deserve a fair wage, fair and equitable treatment and a safe workplace that is not a threat to their health or well-being - no more, no less. Companies cannot, nor should they, guarantee employment.

In my opinion, the biggest problem with corporations these days is not the profit motive nor the ROI, which is not unreasonably high for most companies operating in a competitive market, but rather the exorbitant salaries and benefits of corporate executives. More and more, the "fat cats" are not the owners of the companies, who are just a conglamoration of large and small stockholders, but the CEOs and upper tier executives, who typically enjoy shockingly large salaries, overly generous bonuses and stock options, and as often as not, a "golden parachute" that lets them leave having done well or poorly by the company, with millions that they very likely do not deserve.

With that [the profit motive of businesses] in mind, my opinion would be that vital industries, industries that if run unscrupulously, could be detrimental to the public, should remain state owned.


We differ on that. In my opinion, the proper role of government is not to run vital businesses but to regulate the business environment in a way that assures they are NOT "run unscrupulously". That is something that is well within the purview of government and something that they should be able to manage properly. It's not the same as running the business themselves, which for governments, typically makes a thinly disguised social welfare system for the employees out of the business and in the end does not serve the country or the taxpayers very well. I would go so far as to say that the primary beneficiaries of businesses owned and operated by governments tend to be mainly the employees, that is government employees, at all levels.

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I don't believe gas water and electricity should have been privatised. Thus transferring our national assets into private hands.


Again, we disagree. The enterprises you describe are pretty much what are recognized as public utilities. They are a mixed bag here. Local governments normally provide water services. Some municipalities provide electric and/or gas transmission and distribution within their jurisdictions but that is not universal. Private companies do it where the local government has not reserved that business for themselves.

Government entities do not drill for gas or oil in the US and for the most part are not in the electric generation business, though some are on a small scale and a very few on a state-wide scale. It is almost universally true here that where municipals generate rather than buy and distribute power, the customers get the short end of the stick because the small-scale municipal utilities cannot realize the benefits of scale that large utility companies can.

There are a very few state owned "power authorities" that do own and operate generating stations and long distance transmission and distribution networks within their state - New York comes to mind. Their prices are not on a par with privately owned utilities, but they are very nice companies to work for - pay and benefits and particularly retirement provisions are more than generous, and the ratepayers, who are really the taxpayers, pay through the nose for their state government to be in the power generation and T&D business.

Because of the inefficiencies of overlapping infrastructures, public utilities are best run as regulated monopolies. Those operate best if they are private businesses. They enjoy a government-granted monopoly in their service area because it would be madness to have two or more different power companies each stringing their own lines down everyone's streets. In exchange for the monopoly, they must operate under a strict regulatory environment that is quite different from that of competitive businesses. Typically rates and tariffs are subject to the approval of some sort of public service commission, government appointees who decide what is a fair rate of return on investment for the utilities and how much they can charge, as well as a host of other things.

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The corporations that run them make multi-billion profits, while we all pay ridiculously high prices. And when the price of gas and oil goes down, we still don't see a drop in our energy bills. We are being ripped off.


You have to separate gas and oil if you are referring to natural gas, i.e. heating and cooking gas. That is a public utility with a significant infrastructure requirement for distribution. It should be a regulated monopoly and prices should be closely controlled by government. The ROI of gas companies should be controlled by the government - it they aren't doing that, you are indeed being ripped off. On the other hand, gas production and distribution is very capital intensive. Companies that invest billions expect to make profits of millions or they won't be able to attract investors next year. A reasonable, as opposed to exorbitant, return on investment for a company that invests billions per year is not a rip-off. If they don't get that for long enough, they'll be out of business, or at least will require massive government subsidies. If those are required, guess who pays for them?

Oil is a separate matter. Oil companies operate in a competitive environment and have no large distribution infrastructure that cannot be efficiently duplicated by competing companies. That is quite different from electricity, water and heating gas, all of which require monopolistic "service areas" to avoid very costly overlapping infrastructure.

Market forces SHOULD control the price of oil, but what you describe is largely a correct observation. Prices are quick to rise and slow to fall, if ever they fall at all. I'm certainly not suggesting that oil companies are lily white, but some of what we see is explainable. Part of the reason for all that lies in the fact that much of the production is not domestic, in either of our countries, and foreign entities such as OPEC are ruthless and beyond the reach of our respective governments. If OPEC could ever agree and not cheat on one another with production quotas, we'd be in far worse shape than we are. In any case, government ownership of the oil companies is not likely to result in lower prices because they will be buying oil in the same market the oil companies are and will not have the benefit of also being involved in the production, as some multi-national oil companies are.

Another factor with oil is that governments, more and more, tax the price of it as high as they can get away with. They do this primarily for four reasons - - - A) It's a great source of revenue for government, B) keeping demand low by keeping the price to the consumer high positively affects the balance of trade by limiting the import of foreign oil, C) it promotes alternative energy sources by giving them a better chance to be economically competitive than if they were forced to compete head to head with oil on price alone, and D) it tends to keep automobiles small and lightweight and keeps their usage down, permitting the government to do less and spend less on the maintenance and expansion of streets and roads and such than they might otherwise have to if motor fuel were cheaper.

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Good discussion so far but would like to hear from others too.

That's more than enough for one night. I'll leave the Thatcher economics issue for another day.

John
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  #60 MartinW

MartinW

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 10:10 AM

 

What business does government have being in so many businesses?

 

 

Indeed, as I said, there was without a doubt justification for a degree of privatization. But Thatcher went to the extreme, we are talking about extreme conservatism, extreme conservatism that many  conservatives would balk at. She also had no regard at all for the consequences.

 

I don't understand. If it was privatized, why is government subsidy involved. Privatization to me means that it is sold to a private company who will own and operate it as a business. If that's not what happened and if it's still being run with government money, was is really privatized?

 

A fair point. You could argue that the privatisation of the rail network was such a cock up, that ultimately, given the huge expense to the tax payer, it hasn't really been privatisation at all.

 

 

There were many in the Conservative party at the time that had doubts in regard to this. Not even Nicholas Ridley, the guy who had pushed through poll tax and the minister most ideologically convinced of the merits of private enterprise, supported rail privatization. He declared before he died, that it “would lead to fewer customers paying higher fares to ride on aged trains with only a stewardess handing out coffee during the long and unexplained delays.”

You ask why government subsidy is involved.

When it was British Rail - it was subsidized to the tune of a billion to a billion-and-a-half. However, today it's getting four billion pounds of taxpayers' money.

I believe Network Rail is in debt to the tune of £28bn. Without government subsidy, we would have no rail network.

 

I believe in the United States, and most of the world public transport is subsidized. So I’m not sure why you are surprised.

 

http://www.trainweb.org/moksrail/advocacy/resources/subsidies/transport.htm

 

I don't understand that either. In what way is British Rail a toy of rich men. I don't think it means that only rich men use it, but can't work out the meaning of that.

 

 

British railways are a "rich man's toy", Transport Secretary Philip Hammond has told MPs.

He was responding to a question about regulating fare prices on the planned high speed rail link so that it would be a "railway for everybody".

He said it was an "uncomfortable fact" that trains were already used by the better-off and said some fares were "eye-wateringly expensive".

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-14904610

 

 

 

 

"It doesn't sound that much different from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Gary, Indiana, and a good part of the region between them at about the same time. Those were the main centers of the steel industry in the United States. The industry simply collapsed in a fairly short time, mainly due to foreign competition"

 

No, it wasn’t foreign competition. Industries in Scotland and Wales were devastated by Thatcher’s policies.

 

Thatcher swept like a wrecking ball through the mines, the steel industry, the car factories, shipbuilding and engineering and oversaw the demise of the communities which had built their livelihoods around them.

 

Thatcherism brought the worst recession since the 1930s between 1981 and 1983, destroying one fifth of our industrial base and doubling unemployment – and that was before war was declared on the miners.

 

In essence, the Thatcher free market experiment wiped out much of the country’s industrial base, in favor of a deregulated financial sector. And let’s not forget, if it hadn’t been for North Sea oil and gas revenues, Thatcher’s economic policies would have undoubtedly required yet another huge loan from the IMF.

 

 

 

 

 


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