PFI, outsourcing, and privatisation have all been strategies to shift money from the public sector and the taxpayer to the financial sector. But they are now running up against political limits.
I think we’ve got to the point where we have to name British politics for what it has become: a wholesale looting of the state and the public, with the complicity of the political class, to reward the financial sector. I’ve tried all of the other explanations, and none of them work better. It is the only explanation that fits the facts. I’ve been thinking about this for a while, but what finally triggered me to write was a relatively minor tweet from the Cabinet Office:
While it’s sensible to make sure that public assets aren’t standing idle, the Property Finder is related to the Government’s “Right to Contest”, explained this way in a story in The Guardian:
Under a right to contest introduced in January, anyone can force the government to explain why a building or plot is not being used fully. If the department that owns it cannot justify its current use, it will be forced to release it for sale.
Hashtag GovSavings. It will be forced to release it for sale. And in turn this made me wonder if I could identify a single decision made by George Osborne or the Coalition that didn’t benefit the financial classes – and the 1% – rather than the rest of us. I came up with one, the raising of the minimum wage, where the Chancellor was outmanouevred by Ed Miliband. (In case you’re wondering about the raising of the income tax threshold to £10,000, just no.)
It is the week of clearing, when silly-season news is briefly full of stories of would-be university students who didn’t get the grades they needed for their offered places scrambling to get a place somewhere else. Looking at it close-up, the only credible conclusion, now that university education is so expensive, is that the system is designed to benefit the universities far more than the students.
In turn, this represents a whole privileging of the universities and their trade associations, that also promotes the wholesale financialisation of the higher education system. Which is odd, because the previous non-financialised system delivered world-class outcomes at less than world-class costs, and there’s little guarantee that that the financialised system will do the same. Indeed, the evidence so far is that giving universities too much financial autonomy turns them into rogue institutions, if the record of London University is anything to go by, here, here, and here.