Metroblog

A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

03 June 2009

My Conservative Government at Work

This one's long. But it's important. I've tried not to go postal down here, and tried to keep my arguments germane.

Lately my government, which had no mandate to make the sweeping and destructive changes it has already wrought in my little country, has been chatting up privatization, with serious words like "scrutiny" and "public funds."

They're strapped for cash, their financial incompetence is on full display, and they really need some scapegoats. So they have declared that privatization is the solution. It'd put some desperately needed billions back in "the taxpayer's" (read: the government's) pocket.

Atomic Energy of Canada is first on the chopping block. Last year Harper made headlines by firing Canada's nuclear safety watchdog for proposing to shut down Chalk River nuke plant for maintenance. His excuse was that such a shutdown wasn't necessary, and would deprive Canadians of vital supplies of medical isotopes.

This week Chalk River developed problems and had to be shut down. Nothing was mentioned by Mr. Harper or his stooges about a shortage of isotope supply, other than that we should expect one.

But the Harperites DID begin making rumbling noises about how inefficient government-run companies (Crown corporations) are, and mused about privatizing AECL.

It must be a great temptation. They're staring down $50 billion of debt the voters aren't likely to forgive them for. They'll never win a majority now unless someone gets pics of Michael Ignatieff actually sodomizing a Canada goose (and even then it's probably a coin toss).

So why not add a few billion to the balance sheet by flogging some Crown land, some Crown corporations?--Hell, maybe even some Crown Royal.

There's just one problem. Well, a couple. Three actually. Well I can think of four:

1) Crown Corporations often occupy a niche that private industry either didn't want or shouldn't be allowed to have. For example, private companies retailing isotopes provided by Atomic Energy of Canada have doubled or tripled their prices in repsonse to the shutdown. The AECL factory price hasn't changed.

Imagine what'd happen if a private-for-profit outfit got hold of the main supply of medical isotopes for the world.

2) It's quite hard to flog the non-profiting bits of Crown corps. Sure you can bitch about all the public money you're putting in, but does that make it much more attractive to private investment? So you're either selling only the good bits, or a resource--something irreplaceable that private firms want their hands on in the worst way.

3) Finally this. These aren't corporations. They're Crown Corporations. There are times when divestiture of public assets makes some sense. But we've already done that--We had two prior recessions in the past thirty years. During those recessions, and ever since, we've cut public service jobs, "trimmed fat" and reduced public corporate investment to record lows.

Moreover, they're mostly irreplaceable resources: If the Harperites flog AECl there's no getting it back. We can't just build another $30-bn reactor and set up shop anew. For one thing the Oppostion Conservatives (you surely don't believe they'll be in government, do you?) will scream blue murder at the "unfair" competition by the state enterprise ... or at the tax dollars spent on it, either way they win.

And the stuff that isn't resource is even less suitable for privatization. Now we know Harper hates the CBC. It does a decent job of reporting and is noteably unbiased. But of course, since Harper's world doesn't correspond to reality he loathes it the way he loathes the taste of an overcooked baby. He much prefers FOX, as we know.

But it's not an "asset"--It's our heritage.

4) Finally: it's not his to sell!

No government has the automatic right to sell publicly-owned property in the first place--They are there to manage it. Such management might well require selling it off, eventually, but not at fire-sale prices for the expediency of trying to tuck in your own financial shirt-tail.

This isn't a selloff to improve the efficiency of government or industry, or protect the public purse. Its purpose is twofold: One, to pour more money into the government balance sheet so that their performance doesn't look so damn pitiful, and two, to see if they can sell their free-market-uber-alles ideology while doing it.

Harper doesn't have a majority, doesn't have a mandate, and has not the right to sell any of these assets.

Oh, and um, speaking of assets ... 'Cause those Conservatives must have missed it, being so concerned for taxpayer dollars and all ... Do you think the Canadian government did serious studies into GM's performance before pouring $7.1 bn taxpayer bucks in "loans" into it?

I guess that's different--GM's a private company, and it's all free-markety and presumably efficient and profity and $#17 like that.

Pull the trigger, Mr. Ignatieff. I'd hold my nose and vote for you to chase this dangerous loser and his crack brained coterie of misanthropic, uncharitable, vicious dogs out of my country's highest offices.

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8 Comments:

At 12:18 AM, OpenID silverstar98121 said...

But just look at what privatization of utilities has done for Alberta.

 
At 12:21 AM, Anonymous G Eagle Esq said...

Another interesting Post

 
At 11:45 AM, Blogger Metro said...

@Silverstar:
It seems to me a fundamental problem that we have elected (federally in Canada, provincially in Alberta) people whose ideology and identity depend on government-run services being inefficient and cumbersome, who therefore have a vested interest in ensuring that this remains the case.

@G Eagle Esq
Does that mean you agree with me? Just curious.

 
At 1:33 AM, Anonymous G Eagle Esq said...

Mon Ami, M Metro

I find myself agreeing - and simultaneously disagreeing with you

Is this the mid-life crisis ? Or am I too old for that

In 1916, at the Battle of Jutland, the dashing Admiral Beattie (Britain's equivalent of Colonel Custer) led his UN-SUPPORTED 6 Battle-CRUISERS into the attack on the Main German BattleSHIP line

.... he'd taken the precaution of having unpractised Gun-Crews - they'd never fired their Guns, because this would have upset the honest Burghers of Edinburgh, whose windows would have been shattered by the shock-waves blowing out their windows

The results were entirely predictable - but Britain's Col Custer (who had an American Wife) was not a man to be advised

After the 3rd British Battle-Cruiser had blown up, Admiral Beattie was heard to mutter - somewhat ungraciously :

"There's something wrong with our Bloody British ships today"

It is interesting how incompetence seems in Britain to be a basic requirement for promotion and high-office

Admiral Bettie went on to command the Grand fleet

- just as Mountbatten's appointment as Vice-Roy was based on his contriving to get his Ship sunk as he blundered around the Aegean in 1940 and on his brilliant management of the Special Operations Executive - this included that exquisite Dieppe Raid, which the Canuckistanis seem to be surprisingly resentful of

In 1979, the British owned its Utilities and they were over-manned, over-expensive, inEfficient ....

* British Rail spent vast sums advertising how wonderful they were - there was no point complaining about late trains (when they weren't on strike for ever-higher pay)

* 220,000+ Coal Miners had already brought down the wRetch Heath's Conservative Government and were gearing up to take on Mrs Thatcher

* British Steel had [?] 300,000 employees

It seemed a good idea to privatise these various Shambles ... for ready cash

NOW, we find the money has been spent, the Government is bankrupt with little to shew for its lavish & irresponsible over-spending ... and whole industries have dwindled almost to invisibility

* There are now fewer than 17,000 coal-miners and [?] 17,000 Steel-workers

* Britain's Car Industry is now entirely foreign-owned, except for those wonderful Morgan Cars

* Manufacturing has been worse than decimated, as we have enthusiastically exported jobs to China, India, Malaysia ... anywHere so lomg as it's not in the UK

* North Sea oil is running out ...

AND

we have a wRetched Government whose sole purpose seems to abusing their perks as long as possible, even if this requires thoughtless "Improvement" to the UK's Constitution

There is indeed something wrong with our ------ British Economy today

It is dismaying to read that apparently Canada seems intent on following the UK's deplorable example, instead of learning from it

Yr obedient servant etc

G E

 
At 6:21 AM, OpenID archiearchive said...

This is exactly the situation in Australia - except that OUR misGovernments have sold shares to the taxpayers - who already owned the assorted Government assets. "Here, buy a part of your own property" - a great way to do business! NOT!

 
At 9:53 AM, Blogger Metro said...

@G Eagle:

The thing is, spurred on by the successive cuttings of subsequent governments in this country and province, we have arrived at a point where it becomes difficult to provide even basic services for citizens. It's even worse when we look at "non-essentials" like the Freedom of Information Act requests that the Harper government notoriously delays, denies, and deletes.

So we've cut public services to the bone, they're as efficient as they've ever been. So why not apply those lessons to the basic services? My power's never been cheaper than in a municipality that has its own generating capacity and power company. Government-provided medical coverage is cheaper, even figuring in the taxes and the inefficiencies inherent to such a service, than private care.

Why? Because the motivations are quite simply different. Business is motivated by pure profit, and hang the human cost.

Governments are NOT businesses, and the most maddening error of conservative philosophy is the idea that they should be operated like them.

@Archie:
Yikes--Australia has it worse than Canada! Surely the Apocalypse is at hand!

 
At 3:36 PM, OpenID archiearchive said...

Possibly the most dangerous phgrase in the world is an unrecognised oxymoron; "The Business of Government."

 
At 3:02 PM, Anonymous G Eagle Esq said...

Plus encore Mdm S-star und Monsieur Metro et Magister AerChius Dudius makes some irritatingly sensible and strong points

E gli alieni haben die WV UBERgeNommen :

surlyzqw

 

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