The neoliberal dinosaurs at Anti-dismal have presented their defence of National’s privatisation agenda by responding to my post “Privatisation: the facts“. Their responses offer an insight into the neoliberal mind:
Actually no we don’t [own the SOEs]. The government does. The government has the residual control rights over these assets and thus they own them.
In the neoliberal mind, the government isn’t an expression of society’s collective will and cooperation, it’s a business. You and I know that what the government owns it owns on our behalf. The privatisers see a business to be asset-stripped.
They may not [end up owning privatised assets] but why should we worry? The idea of the sale of any asset is to get it in the hand of whoever values the asset most highly. That may or may not be “Mum and Dads”.
Out comes the truth. The assets go to the people with money. Look closely: “whoever values the asset most highly”. Neoliberals equate value with money. Who values a loaf of bread more? A starving man with no money or a rich man who wants to sop up his soup? According the neoliberals, the one who will pay the most money. They don’t understand that an asset will be bought by the people with the most money even though others may value the asset more highly.
“Privatisation harms markets”. I’m not sure that even make sense. I’m not sure how getting more firms into a market can “harm the market” – whatever that means. The evidence tells us that privatisation increases competition in markets and I can’t see how that “harms the market”.
Oh dear. Who hear thinks the electricity market is working better now than it was when it was before the Bradford reforms that partially privatised it? The introduction of privatisation to natural monopolies has historically lead to under-investment and competition based on advertising, not quality and price.
“Privatisation leads to asset-stripping”. It may or may not. In some cases that is exactly what should happen. In a number of cases, eg NZ Rail, the business as sold wasn’t viable and thus needed reorganisation. Privatisation is a good way of doing this.
You read it here first (unless you’re one of the 6 people who read Anti-dismal): the Right supports asset-stripping. I love that they picked rail as an example of asset-stripping working. The fact is we got to the edge of losing a vital piece of national infrastructure which private owners had extracted huge profits from and then dumped back into the government’s hands, knowing it couldn’t let it collapse.
“We also get a bad deal on SOE sales.” How can we tell? If this means we don’t get the highest price possible for an asset then why worry? The idea idea for asset sales isn’t to sell at the highest price, if it was then the government should make all SOE’s into monopolises before selling them as monopolises command a higher price than competitive firms. Even Marty G should be able to see the problem with that!!!!
OK. That’s a bit of a mad rant. Selling assets at a low price is a good thing? For whom? Oh, yeah, the rich buyers, like Fay and Richwhite who made half a billion dollars by buying government assets for fire-sale prices and hocking them off quick for more.
“Kiwibank doesn’t need to be partially sold to get money for expansion. The cheapest source of capital is the government”
If this is true for Kiwibank then it is also true for all other firms and thus the government should supply the capital for all firms. To get capital allocated rationally you need the price of capital to be the market price so that it reflects the true opportunity cost of that capital.
Anyone who thinks that capitalism succeeds in rationally allocating capital needs their head read. We’ve just gone through the largest recession in generations because of mis-allocation of capital. We’re on the brink of environmental collapse because we’re expending our capital on building SUVs rather than creating clean energy. The neolibs can’t actually counter my point – if Kiwibank needs more capital, the government is the best value supplier.