Monday, 12 October 2009

Asset sales

Gordon Brown is going to sell off £16bn worth of assets to fund borrowing.

I agree with privatisation - but only when done properly. In the 1980s Thatcher's government sold off state companies so workers could own parts; a real expansion of property rights. Now, Brown would be likely to sell them off to big business. Thatcher sold them off for ideological reasons. Brown is selling them off to fund his spending spree (no sign of it slowing down).

As well as that, would we get £32bn if we sold them off in, say, 5 years? We are at the bottom of the market (remember the gold?) and they wouldn't go for much. This also isn't a cut to plug the deficit, just to fund more spending.

I don't oppose the privatisations in principle. We don't need a state bookmaker, the state doesn't need to administer student loans, and it doesn't need to own the Channel Tunnel rail link. It also doesn't need to own the Dartford Crossing, and while they are at it, why don't they sell off the motorway network to several operators (not just the one, keep it competitive)? Will traffic use local roads? Maybe, but if they can't cope, motorways will happily take the extra traffic, and drivers will demand them if the alternatives are clogged up. Might get government to invest in roads a bit too.

Just sell them off in a few years when we're in better times, and sell them off properly, the way Thatcher did it.

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