Tagged: privatisation

Government to use private thugs to force sick people into work

You’d think that would be the headline, wouldn’t you?  Instead of “Govt will pay to shift mentally ill into work“.  That makes it sound far nicer.  It’s just a shift!  Not a private-sector jackboot up your ass if you’re evil enough to have messy brain chemistry issues.

I’ve seen a lot of people point out that this is basically what the government has tried to do in the UK, with predictable, horrific, corrupt results.

I just have a few questions.

What magical powers do these organisations have which mean for a mere $12,000 they can find suitable fulltime work for a mentally unwell/non-neurotypical person – which WINZ isn’t able to find them?

Or is it just convenient to get a private provider – who is presumably not subject to the OIA – to kick vulnerable people onto the streets so there’s no official paper trail of why and what happens to them?

Who are the companies making $12,000 for each ill person they force into work?  Who owns shares in them?

What are the criteria used to determine if a job is a good, sustainable job?  Or don’t we give a fuck?

Do they have to give any of the money back if a mentally ill person kills themselves?  Or do they get a bonus?

Why I’m not buying the Stop Asset Sales campaign

… and it ain’t because of road safety rules or the stellar work Labour’s designers did making the authorisation as small as possible while remaining vaguely legible.

It starts with a speech by David Cunliffe in November 2010:

Crucially in a capital constrained fiscal environment, we will better leverage the Crown’s balance sheet in new and innovative ways.

We can expand public-private partnerships for new transport infrastructure.  The project scale must be right and the PPP benefits must outweigh any increase in cost of capital, but that leaves plenty of scope for win-wins .

We can unleash State Owned Enterprises to create and grow new subsidiaries with private partners and shareholders, without diluting the taxpayer’s equity, or wholly or partially privatizing the SOE.

We can turn old models of Government participation in economic development on their head by using equity rather than grants; private sector exports [sic] rather than bureaucrats, and rigorous performance measures rather than public sector doubletalk.

Which with its combination of basically saying “we like the good kinds of privatisation which aren’t really privatisation but are a magical process of getting private investment in public assets without them expecting any form of stake or ownership in return” plus buying into “the public sector are fat and lazy” rhetoric plus the line that “no seriously, this is totes New and Innovative and not the same old neoliberal shit with a few sops to our remaining lefty fans” was depressing enough.

Anyhoo, the sadly-in-hiatus Marty G took to that on The Standard, got a pretty awesomely upfront response from Cunliffe, and then pointed out that PPPs are still universally shit and that expecting to get honest, balanced advice from Treasury?  Tell ‘im ‘e’s dreaming:

There’s a difference between National and Labour’s policies on SOEs and privatisation  – National: we might part sell SOEs, Labour: we might part sell new subsidiaries of SOEs as long as it doesn’t dilute equity in existing SOEs – but they look very similar to the casual observer. Especially since National could just adopt Labour’s policy, carve SOEs into ‘new subsidiaries’, and sell them off for the same result as its policy.

The notoriously ‘pro-road at any cost’ NZTA, Treasury, and MED will be chomping at the bit for sell-offs and PPPs, and providing advice that everything will be fine.

Fast-forward to recent weeks, and Labour launch a bold, certainly attention-grabbing, Stop Asset Sales campaign.  It’s probably good marketing, it’s a nice clear message, it would definitely be nice if it seemed to be part of a concerted campaign, and it’s got two major weaknesses in that the non-politically-aware demographic might just be confused, because That Nice Mr Key said they wouldn’t totally sell asset sales* while the more-politically-aware demographic look at speeches like Cunliffe’s above and wonder, “Shouldn’t those signs read “Stop Asset Sales, terms & conditions apply”?”

And then you get a snarky hater like me who first of all looks at the “donate a sign” page for the campaign and thinks “If Labour is literally spending $10 per sign and can’t even give a discount on a 10-sign donation I may not want such fiscal geniuses in charge of my country’s economy” and then sees Trevor Mallard trying to sell the line that:

Phil Goff has made it clear that No Asset sales means just that.

Which he really, really hasn’t if you’re a sarcastic wench like me.  Consider:

“My position is I don’t want to see the SOEs sold at all,” Mr Goff replied.

“I just want to consider flogging off small parts of them under a theoretically restrictive set of conditions,” he continued.

“What I am saying to you today very clearly is that Labour won’t be selling the assets that all of us as New Zealanders own now.”

“But my Finance spokesperson also says very clearly that we will consider arrangements which basically boil down to partial privatisation, giving the private sector the benefits and putting the risk onto the public sector.”

“But I have to look after the interests of all New Zealanders, both as taxpayers and consumers.”

Because you can always spot the Labour leaders by the way they categorise New Zealanders as consumers and taxpayers,** unlike the right who focus on New Zealanders’ rights as citizens … oh wait.

“As taxpayers it doesn’t make sense to us to lose control of those assets.”

“Which of course is exactly the line National is running with that whole “keeping a controlling stake” thing, but we mean, um, a different kind of not-losing-control-of-those-assets …”

“The difference is when you have sold them you have lost them and lose the dividend stream forever.”

… Unless you don’t sell them but instead allow private investment in their subsidiaries and expand public-private partnerships, right?

Goff scoffed at National’s plans to sell to “mum and dad” investors. “Mums and dads can’t even afford the power bills, let alone to buy the power companies,” he said.

Mr Goff was later observed looking puzzled and asking his political advisors, “Do you peeps think I should have maybe led with that strong, punchy mums-and-dads line instead of waffling on in terms which actually leave a lot of space for us to organise schemes and partial privatisations which the good people spending their $10 per sign will probably consider a betrayal of a rather blunt, uncompromising campaign statement?”

~

*And even lefties aren’t entirely comfortable expressing the view that everything is a lie.

**Maybe if Goff loves consumers and taxpayers so much he could set up an Association for them.

Read these people instead while I get over the week

A few posts are percolating in the back of my brain, but in the meantime:

Two nice analogies for the privatisation issue, from Keith:

Yes, you can sell your house to pay off the mortgage, then you’ll be mortgage-free. But you’ll also be minus a house.

And Danyl:

Near’s I can tell the pro asset sales argument goes like this:

All our private companies are rubbish, so investors should be able to own equity in profitable, well-run government companies, which will improve their performance because the government is rubbish and private businesses are profitable and well run.

stargazer with some additional points on the Amy Chua/Tiger Mother issue:

however, there are downsides to the approach of “you will succeed, no matter what it takes”, some of which i wrote about at kate’s blog so won’t repeat here. but there’s another one i didn’t mention, which is that this type of approach strongly discourages risk-taking. i’ve seen it with children who are programmed for success: they will simply not take on activities where there is a strong risk of failure.

Finally, I am so squee’d about the upcoming 2011 pro-choice gathering (which totally needs a cool name, I’m thinking either Abortion Party 2011 or Curette This!):

This gathering is for those who want to take part in planning and organising a campaign to make abortion legal, safe and accessible. We also welcome pro-choice discussion and planning around broader reproductive and sexual health needs.