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Herald Editorial – ‘Why assets sales were worthwhile’

Written By: - Date published: 9:50 am, March 11th, 2008 - 32 comments
Categories: humour, Media - Tags: ,

Tomorrow – ‘Slavery: it wasn’t so bad when you think about it’

32 comments on “Herald Editorial – ‘Why assets sales were worthwhile’ ”

  1. Camryn 1

    Link will probably assist discussion.

  2. Benodic 2

    The editorial was retarded:

    “If Toll and the Treasury can agree on a price, the wheel will turn full circle: New Zealand railways will be a state-owned business again, privatisation will be said to have failed, just as it was said to have failed the national airline. But “failure” in the private sector is instructive…

    “If the public now wants a railway at any cost, just as it wants a national airline, it can pay for it. But it does so now with its eyes open to the once-hidden costs on the economy. That is not failure, it is a policy working as intended. The economy is stronger and the country richer for it.”

    So basically they’re saying the massive underinvestment and failure of our rail system under private ownership was worth it because now we know what happens under private ownership, and that somehow shows a policy working as intended? wtf???

    Pravda couldn’t make this shit up.

  3. Steve Pierson 3

    cheers Camryn.

    I don’t know if there’s anything serious to discuss about the editoral – it really confuses the benefits that certainly did come with corporatisation with privatisation, which has certainly had serious costs and questionable benefits. It totally ignores the current account deficit issues, and brushes aside the fact that our assets were sold off for too little to asset-strippers.

    In a way I think the Herald editoral has become a right-wing version of us – we often say what we wish the Left parties had the balls to say, the Herald editoral makes the arguments that APN wishes National had the principles to make.

  4. Look, I don’t know what your issue with slavery is. As far as I can see the abolition of slavery shut the door on a lot of entry-level positions for disadvantaged workers. Much like the abolition of a youth rate, and the failure to provide a probationary period, the abolition of slavery has only led to higher costs for employers and a disinclination to take on potentially risky staff – many of whom would sorely love the chance to show they’ve got what it takes. How are SMEs supposed to grow in such a hostile business environment???

  5. ghostwhowalks 5

    And of course APN and the herald would back totally use of tax stripping techniques like sale and leaseback of the masthead.

    Because that just has so many benefits for the public doesnt it.
    They would have the government do the same with our footpaths and maybe even canning the laughter of our children so it can too be sold

  6. Camryn 6

    I think I have a post in moderation… well, I hope I do or it might have disappeared. Funnily enough, it was probably the most left-leaning thing I’ve ever posted 🙂

  7. insider 7

    gww

    You mean just like that government agency Transpower actually did whne it ‘sold’ the national grid….?

  8. Tane 8

    Hi Camryn, seems to have disappeared. Feel free to repost.

  9. ghostwhowalks 9

    Has anyone noticed the new look blogs on the Herald.

    Seems to be less comments than the average toilet wall ( all combined)

  10. GWW, the laughter of children will have no market value until it reaches a viable point of scarcity. I figure about a year and a half into a National government would be an opportune time to start developing your marketing campaign…

  11. Camryn 11

    Thanks for checking, Tane.

    I won’t retype the whole thing. The gist of it was making fun of the Herald’s mode of argument as very much a “the woman is dead, so we know she wasn’t a witch” type of logic i.e. arguably an accurate way of figuring it out, but where the downsides of the process outweigh the result.

    I’d still like to see privately owned rail operators though, ideally more than one. Toll should’ve been able to redesign its operations to make road and rail complimentary (giving them a great competitive advantage). That they haven’t done so suggests they’re too ‘road bound’ or are fairly dim. The best role for the government will be just owning the network… ideally running it as efficiently as possible, but resorting to ‘incentives’ via government regulation (if required) to ensure it actually gets used in a socially and economically optimal way.

  12. Steve Pierson 12

    What would be really cool is if there were just a bunch of individually privately owned trains driving round the country like totally mercenary and uncoordinated, each trying to be in the right place for a good cargo to pay for the fuel for the next haul. Like a train version of that cartoon tail-spin with the planes and the bears.

    But failing that – full public ownership, where the nation’s economic and transport needs can be directly addressed by government rather than trying to incentivise profit making private companies is probably the way to go.

  13. insider 13

    “where the nation’s economic and transport needs can be directly addressed by government…”

    Sorry but this method has been tried and failed so many times I’m surprised you consider today’s politicians and their advisors as smarter and less venal than their predecessors, as that would be a requirement for any possibility of success.

    Remember when trucks weren’t allowed to go more than 50 miles from their depot. That was an example of where the nation’s economic and transport needs were directly addressed by government. All the billions wasted on think big projects – remember synfuels? That really solved our transport fuel needs. What about biofuels? the Government is doing a brilliant job there!

    And of course rail. Yes it ran like a well oiled errr engine back in the good old days. Yes sir, they never closed lines, never over invested – their planning was spot on. How could we have been so stupid as to have got rid of that model?

  14. rOb – I was an ardent follower of Swift but unfortunately lost my collected edition when I had to move house all of a sudden after my Irish neighbours became very suspicious about the disappearance of their pets (it pays to start small).

  15. I’ll send a boy to pick it up.

  16. Steve Pierson 16

    r0b. what kind of leather?

  17. It puts the lotion on its skin…

  18. r0b 18

    Look, I don’t know what your issue with slavery is. As far as I can see the abolition of slavery shut the door on a lot of entry-level positions

    ‘Sod, sigh, as usual your proposals are half-arsed. You need to carry things through to their logical conclusion. I think that it is time for New Zealand to take a second look at a modest proposal from an earlier, much more revolutionary thinker…

  19. r0b 19

    ‘Sod, I take back my unkind words. You are a true believer after all! I think I have a spare first edition somewhere, quite a handsome volume bound in nice soft leather. I’ll have it sent over to your mansion.

  20. Billy 20

    I have a question. Why is comparing Clark to Mugabe evil, but comparing the sale of assets to slavery just smart and clever?

  21. r0b 21

    Steve – I think ‘sod has worked that one out…

  22. James Kearney 22

    No one is saying National or the Herald intends to endorse slavery. It’s a comic device used to show the absurdity of the Herald’s argument.

    The Free Speech Coalition actually want to convince you that Clark is behaving like Mugabe and a string of other dictators. There is no comparison.

  23. I have a question for you billy-boy – why do you persist with disingenuous, questions that are leadenly blunt in their (barely) subtextual attempts to create (false) moral equivalences?

    I’ve seen you do much better than this bro, and yet you seem so keen to settle for this trite m.o. so often now I’m starting to wonder if everything is alright with Billy. C’mon bro, if you’ve got troubles just open up, uncle ‘Sod’ll give you a shoulder to cry on…

  24. Billy 24

    James, I think even the Whaleoil would admit that Mugabe is a different league to Clark. I think you’ll find that the FSC were using the exact “comic device” that our friend Stephen has employed.

  25. Billy 25

    “why do you persist with disingenuous, questions”

    Not disingenuous, ‘sod. An actual question. I know you find it impossible to believe that anyone could be right wing unless paid to be so by a tobacco company, but some of us hold these positions because we genuinely believe that the price of big government outweighs any benefits it delivers. And what the fuck was with that utterly random comma placement?

    “that are leadenly blunt”

    I am sorry if you find my prose style leaden and blunt. Sorry to disappoint, but everything I write is not tailored to what you find most appealing.

    “in their (barely) subtextual attempts to create (false) moral equivalences?”

    Wasn’t trying to be subtextual. Thought it was all in the text (blunt as it was). My question was genuine. What is the difference between the two? Fucked if I can see one.

    “I’ve seen you do much better than this bro”

    You always do this patronising thing when you’re attacking people. Don’t. It make you seem oily. And for the last time, it’s “bro'”.

    “C’mon bro, if you’ve got troubles just open up, uncle ‘Sod’ll give you a shoulder to cry on ”

    Now who’s being disingenuous.

  26. Nah bro, I’m being honest. And I’m only oily for you… mmmm oily…

  27. Draco TB 27

    I read that editorial as saying:-
    The loss of billions of dollars, the loss of thousands of jobs and lively hoods and the massive increase in inequality in NZ was soooo totally worth it because now we know that privatisation is a failure

    I suppose that the NZHerald finally coming clean about the failure of privatisation is at least a step in the right direction (Yeah, Right – who am I kidding? The NZHerald, like the cheater, isn’t about to change its spots).

  28. Ari 28

    Next up on the Herald: Why our biased reporting was worthwhile- a candid look into partisan spin in New Zealand!

    I can’t wait for them to backwardly admit they were wrong 😉

  29. Gobbler 29

    “I read that editorial as saying:-
    The loss of billions of dollars, the loss of thousands of jobs and lively hoods and the massive increase in inequality in NZ was soooo totally worth it because now we know that privatisation is a failure”

    I don’t think that the editorial implied privatisation is a failure (wenen’t they arguing the opposite?!). I think what it was saying was that in business as in any competition you must perform in a certain way to be successful.

    Tranzrail was run by men who should be behind bars rather than knighted but Toll it seems had geniunely been trying to make a return on it’s investment in the railways in a far less cynical and negative way.

    It now appears as though it can’t or cannot make an investment that makes business sense which is also in keeping with the Government’s expectation of how New Zealand’s rail network and the service it provides should be.

    This isn’t a failure as the Herald argues – it is simply saying that if we want a rail network in New Zealand that is of a certain standard (or at the same standard of the good old days when it was a de-facto work for the dole scheme) then the private-sector business case at this point in time is not good-enough to achieve such an aspiration.

    If we as a society do want this (for example because we think trains are nice and trucks are bad) then we will have to pay for it. Because if the economics don’t stack up then a private operator will not voluntarily run at a loss or waste resources to achieve it and nor should they be expected too as the whole reason of business is to maximise profit.

    – Hence Cullen’s comment ‘I would rather subsidise ourselves than a private operator’ which implies the Government is expecting a certain level of service that it doesn’t currently believe it is receiving.

    Privitisation of the railways has taught us that:

    A) We got shafted by some b*stards who are now dividing their time carving up railways in Europe or sunning themselves in Mercury Bay

    B) New Zealand is a sparsely populated country with difficult terrain – if we want a railway network comparable in quality with say France; then there isn’t a private business case for it. The Government will need to make the investment – and a whopper of an investment it will be! and it won’t necessarily be the best way to achieve the goal of moving frieight and people around the land of the long white cloud.

    Currently as there isn’t actually a discussion as to what sort of standard the railway network should be in New Zealand (Maybe the Government does have a vision but isn’t publicising it as of yet) then it is difficult to say whether or not Toll and by virtue the case for or against privitisation has failed.

    For instance if you consider failure to be having anything less than 200mph electic trains servicing the main centres then it has failed dismally. But if you believe simply having the North Island Main Trunk Line open is satisfactory enough then Toll has been overwhelmingly successful.

    It is difficult to quantify success and failure without something for which either can be measured by.

    – Also I realise the Government is in discussion for the rolling stock etc. only and not the actual lines. But as the two are complimentary I thouhght I would lump them in together for the sake of a good argument!!

    – Also I am neither pro or against asset sales I just believe a bit of rational thinking should be used when having this discussion. Labour since 1999 have sold a number of companies which are doing very well. I think it is a case of just making sure we aren’t being shafted by Gordon Gecko types and then there isn’t anything particularly wrong with asset sales as it frees up Government resources for something more worthwhile.

    my 2c

  30. r0b 30

    I’d say more like $20!

  31. Gobbler 31

    I’ll keep it closer to 2c next time!

  32. merl 32

    But the problem with the ‘lessons learned’ from these asset sales is that we already knew those things *before* the asset sales.

    It’s just a bad idea to put vital infrastructure in private hands because the private owners *know* that they can run the asset into the ground and the government will step in to save the business.

    We know that.

    The reason why National wants asset sales is not because it makes more sense for some businesses to be run privately rather than publicly (or publicly rather than privately).

    National is ideaologically opposed to state ownership of assets, and will privatise whatever assets they think they can get away with while clinging on to power.

    So the core thrust of ‘lessons learned’ from the article:
    “If the public now wants a railway at any cost, just as it wants a national airline, it can pay for it. But it does so now with its eyes open to the once-hidden costs on the economy. That is not failure, it is a policy working as intended. The economy is stronger and the country richer for it.”
    is a blatant lie. How is the economy stronger or richer because private enterprise mismanaged a key strategic asset?

    You could argue that we are now wiser for the experience, but that’s not true of National. They’ve already come out and said that they would re-priovatise the railways, demonstrating that they haven’t learned anything at all from this exercise.

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