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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Search and Rescue sell-off reveals a government obsessed with privatisation

This new piece of mine appears over at The Guardian's Comment is Free website.

Neil Clark: From RAF search and rescue to Royal Mail and the NHS, state services are being sold off. The public don't back this extremism 

You really couldn't make it up. As the RAF search and rescue service does heroic work helping people caught out or marooned in heavy snow in north Wales, the government announces that the very same service is to be privatised – with a 10-year contract worth £1.6bn being awarded to an American company whose headquarters are in Texas. "Our search and rescue helicopter service plays a crucial role, saving lives and providing assistance to people in distress on both land and on sea," said transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin on Tuesday. But why, when the SAR service is so excellent, and does such a fantastic job, is the government handing over all the work to a private company? We're told that the RAF's rescue helicopters are "ageing"; but can we really not afford to buy them 22 new ones?

You can read the whole piece here


Anonymous said...

Does this mean that people will have their financial status checked before they are rescued? "Sorry Mr. Smith, but we can't save you seeing as you still have an unpaid balance due."

I am only half joking. In the United States, some privatized fire departments have let homes burn because the owners hadn't paid all of their bills.

Emergency services should be provided by the State through taxation and available to all people equally.

K Naylor said...

John Gray has been one of the foremost critics of how what was once a reaction to the undoubted inefficiencies of nationalised industries in the 1970s, has morphed into a lunatic for of Utopianism, a neoliberal dogma where virtually every aspect of public and private life can be subject to "market forces" as if they had some sort of Divine Power to recreate a more efficient economy.

Unfortunately, the evidence simply does not stack up. The irony is that the Adam Smith institute doesn't even understand that Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations never advocated placing all economic activity into the hands of privatise corporations ( think of the East India Company ).

British politics and economy is dominated by "think tanks" which dew out batty solutions based on looking at anstract models as opposed to empiracal evidence about what works and what does not.

There are institutions of state that work better in public hands: the railways would be better off under public ownership. Yet the road lobby industry has a sway over neoliberal politicians, not only in Britain but in Poland too.

The PKP branch lines are being closed and PKS bus services no longer coherently connect various towns along the shortest routes. The preference is to have them all go via Krakow, causing appalling traffic congestion along with the development of a Thatcherite style "Great Car Economy".

The result is that this beautiful city is now suffering from gridlock and some of the highest levels of toxic smog concentrations in Europe that researchers say will cause respitory diseases.

A combination of dogma, selfish egotistical so called "individualism" in both Britain and Poland is causing havoc and chaos. Tony Judt has written a searing plomic Ill Fares the Land that looks at how we no longer even understand conceptions of the social good.

Water privatisation has been a complete mess. In Reading buses where last summer, while England experienced extremely high levels of rainfall, to "Use Water Wisely". This was a Thames Valley advert.

BTW, Conservative Peter Hitchens has also called for nationalisation of the rail network. All those public minded citizens need to fight back urgently against a dogma which is causing completely dysfunctional consequences.

Neil Clark said...

John: alas, that's the way we're heading.
Karl: I couldn't agree more. by any objective privatisation of the railways and public transport has been a disaster, yet neoliberals still talk of it as a 'success'.