Simple math makes it clear that privatizing especially in certain sectors increases the cost of providing a service. All else being equal, the calculation is not difficult. This is clear for paying for healthcare, transportation services, and much more.
Take privatizing with a grain of salt
Jonathan Hall is an American expatriate who was so fed up with our Right Wing that he decided to move to Norway. He simply cannot believe what Americans tolerate relative to healthcare and much more. He pointed out that Norway has a Right-Wing that has had a few successes in policy that ultimately resulted in failure. The privatizing of their rail brought price increases and unreliability as profit superseded service according to Hall.
When a Right Wing government is forced to renationalize their trains the writing is on the wall. Jacobin's article "Privatization Failed — Even the Tories Are Admitting It" is probative.
The first time I got on a Northern Train, I was rained on inside the carriage thanks to a hole in the roof. Virgin Trains will forever hold a place in my heart as the worst rail firm I ever had the misfortune to use, but friends commuting daily using Northern hated the company beyond all measure — for being late, too infrequent, of poor quality, and, as with all rail travel in the United Kingdom, far too expensive.
So the announcement that the Conservative government is renationalizing the franchise after repeated failures has been greeted with joy by many. Earlier this month, Conservative transport minister Grant Shapps announced that Virgin would be stripped of its franchise. Then came the sudden news it was to be renationalized. The second biggest commuter rail service, South Western Railway, is also under threat of renationalization due to appalling performance and the constant threat of strike action resulting from its treatment of staff and the degradation of pay and working conditions.
After all the pre-election fearmongering that Jeremy Corbyn and Labour would nationalize every company under the British sky as a prelude to bringing your whole family into public ownership, the Tories have been remarkably quick to renationalize, and to talk about the prospect of further nationalization. This is, in some respects, unsurprising: during the election, Boris Johnson showed that he didn’t care much about truth or intellectual honesty, only smearing Labour and ramping up votes by sowing division and fear in the electorate. Haranguing his Tories for a policy U-Turn won’t matter much, because they care about neither policy, U-turns, nor their public image. Labour’s shadow transport secretary, Andy McDonald, was circumspect, stating, “All failing rail contracts should be taken into public control as a major step towards uniting track and train,” and pointed out that the government could have stepped in far sooner to hold Arriva, the company running Northern Rail, to account. Arriva also sued the government, as many other private firms are doing — costing the taxpayer millions more due to Tory incompetence in addition to the ludicrous privatized system.
It shows the slow inevitability of nationalization: two-thirds of the public support bringing trains back into public ownership, including many like me, who can’t remember a time when they weren’t privatized. People of all ages use the system, see the exorbitant rail fares, experience late and canceled trains and major overcrowding, and know that someone, somewhere, is making a mint from our discomfort and inconvenience, on a service that usually has a monopoly and that we have no choice but to use. When rail firms fail, simply letting them collapse would mean that millions of journeys to work, or for visits to family and friends, couldn’t be made. Besides the loss of productivity, it would enrage every person affected. The government can’t afford to let that happen, so it steps in to renationalize when necessary, regardless of ideological background.
As more and more franchises are blocked, stripped, and renationalized, privatization becomes exposed as a failure.
None of this should be surprising. We would do well to be mindful when the titans of finance come with their grandiose privatizing plans. It is never about making society better but finding a way to extract even more from us all.