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  • Monday, May 30, 2005

    Thom Hartmann's interview with George Galloway

    Common Dreams has the transcript, an excerpt below:

    [George Galloway] Now, we are the only country in the whole world that privatized our Air Traffic Control space; even the United States did not do that. [Thom Hartmann] We're talking about it here. [George Galloway] Yes, you're talking about it. Mr. Blair was ahead of you. He was ahead of Mrs. Thatcher, who wouldn't have dreamt of any such reckless measure. And we've now handed over control of our Air Traffic Control space to people whose primary responsibility, who's very legal and fiduciary duty is to use their investment to make a profit for their shareholders. That's got to be legally their first priority; to make a profit for their shareholders. Now, just like an equally deadly privatization, though it doesn't sound like it, it might sound banal, when we privatized the cleaning services in hospitals, we immediately passed on to companies a duty not primarily to keep the hospitals clean, but primarily to make a profit for their shareholders. The result has been an explosion, a veritable explosion, in re-infection rates; so-called MRSA which is a kind of super bug mutant, which is actually killing 10,000 people a year in Britain. And there are many hospitals, including the one in my own constituency, miscalled the Royal London Hospital, though you'd never find a member of the royal family in it, I can assure you, where you're as likely to come out sick as you are to come out cured because of the state of the cleaning services in the hospitals. And that's directly linked to the privatization of that service.
    See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts

    5 Comments:

    At 5/30/2005 05:07:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    "because of the state of the cleaning services in the hospitals. And that's directly linked to the privatization of that service.
    "
    Maybe.
    Just because a service is contracted out (outsourced) does not absolve the letter of the contract from supervising the execution of that contract and ensuring its specifications are being met.
    In this case, either the contract was poorly written - inadequate specs- or it's not being properly supervised.
    The onus is on the NHS to rectify either or both matters.

     
    At 5/31/2005 02:35:00 am, Blogger DJEB said...

    Privatization is, in most cases, a bad idea. Business almost always tries to cut as many corners as possible to increase profits. Privatization also replaces administration with over-paid managers.

    Furthermore, governments are usually under pressure to keep down costs. As such, they hire professional economists to manage the business. The problem being that mainstream economic theory is wrong, as Piero Sraffa pointed out in 1926. Any business that follows neo-classical (mainstream) economic theory is going to set its costs too low and run at a loss. This is one explanation for why so many government services become more expensive when privatised.

     
    At 5/31/2005 11:47:00 am, Blogger Voice 1 said...

    Anonymous, what a good poor excuse for what we all know is the disaster of making private companies responsible for public services.

    We all know what sort of a mess the rail network is in, we all know what cock ups have been made following the privatisations of gas, electricity and water.

    Galloway was right when he stated that a private company's first responsibility is to its shareholders, not forgetting of course the directors' perks.

    It is absolutely no surprise that when private companies are introduced into public services, the level of service decreases. In the case of introducing private finance into the NHS, it is the ultimate denial to say that it is the fault, or responsibility of the NHS, rather than the contractors involved for the inadequate service provided by the contractors.

     
    At 5/31/2005 05:50:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    If the NHS (or anyone else) outsources a function it is their responsibility to make sure the function is performed properly. If it isn't then the contract hopefully has the language to allow its cancellation at which time it can be rebid or the function taken back in house.
    I dispute the notion that "private" always means more expensive, rather it's that government accounting is so mixed up and sloppy that the true cost to the gov't is not known and nearly impossible to determine.

    In terms of the railways, well they weren't that great when it was all BR or LT (tube). Standards were falling, service could be crippled a the hint of frost, hideous costs but fares kept low for political reasons, overstaffing etc etc. I wonder how much of today's troubles were basically inevitable due to decaying infrastructure regardless of who was in charge ? Of course it didn't help that the private corporation running it was deliberately sabotaged by Labour.

     
    At 5/31/2005 10:46:00 pm, Blogger DJEB said...

    "If it isn't then the contract hopefully has the language to allow its cancellation at which time it can be rebid or the function taken back in house."

    There's the problem. In a lot of the privatisation that goes on, the contract does not allow this.

    "I dispute the notion that "private" always means more expensive"

    It doesn't. It just usually does. There are exceptions.

    "rather it's that government accounting is so mixed up and sloppy that the true cost to the gov't is not known and nearly impossible to determine."

    I've explained this already with a link that explains even more.

    All that aside, one get way to push for privatisation is to run the public services into the ground - something one provincial minister in Canada was caught on tape in 1995 saying had to be done. (He lived up to his word.)

     

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