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Has privatisation ever brought prices down in the UK


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#81 Northern Sol

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 02:59 PM

So private sector gives people substandard products/services. Righty-o.


Are you accessing the Internet from a PC?

Did IBM make that PC or is it a "clone"?

Do you use a Mosaic browser or one of the newer ones such as Opera, Chrome, Explorer?

You also almost certainly use a Qwerty keyboard as well. You could throw away the keyboard that came with the PC and replace it with any of hundred similar products without worrying about compatability issues.

Edited by Northern Sol, 22 October 2012 - 03:09 PM.


#82 Northern Sol

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 03:01 PM

VHS did not triumph through consumer preference. Most people rented their TVs at the time and did the same when video came out.

Because of the lower cost of a VHS machine and the willingness of the making company to subsidise them when bought in bulk the renting public had no choice at all.

When you examine most capitalist "facts" they usually turn out to be based on a false market.


The "fact" that you quoted was a "lower price" that's capitalism 101. People prefer lower prices to higher ones.

People also prefer more use to less use - hence porn was significant.

#83 Northern Sol

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 03:03 PM

Another classic example of private companies taking all the rewards and the taxpayer paying the bills was reported in the press this morning.

No power company (all foreign now of course as we have flogged all ours to protected/nationalised companies in Europe) are willing to invest in the building of much needed nuclear capacity unless it is underwritten by the UK taxpayer.

In other words they can be as slapdash as they like with the cost overruns and I will foot the bill. The reurns and evermore expensive cost of electricity will ensure handsome returns for them for years to come.

Yet another win win situation for good old private enterprise.

Just like what happens everyday in private healthcare. They are happy to take their exorbitant fees but if it turns nasty you end up in an ambulance on your way to the NHS.


Then presumably the UK government will be building the nuclear power plant....

...or perhaps they know sod all about the industry and realise that they need a partner.

A victory for common sense I'd say.

#84 Severus

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 05:15 PM

Are you accessing the Internet from a PC?

Did IBM make that PC or is it a "clone"?

Do you use a Mosaic browser or one of the newer ones such as Opera, Chrome, Explorer?

You also almost certainly use a Qwerty keyboard as well. You could throw away the keyboard that came with the PC and replace it with any of hundred similar products without worrying about compatability issues.

I'm using a Mac :P

Anyway this analogy doesn't really make sense. You suggest that popularity of a product or service gives an indication of quality. Take two products that do the same job, one superior than the other. The inferior product is marketed better than the superior product and becomes the market leader because of popularity, not because it is superior.
Fides invicta triumphat

#85 John Rhino

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 09:45 PM

Then presumably the UK government will be building the nuclear power plant....

...or perhaps they know sod all about the industry and realise that they need a partner.

A victory for common sense I'd say.

What has who is building it got to do with it?
I'm talking about who pays for it and who takes the rewards and profit. There is only one winner here (and of course one loser)

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#86 Northern Sol

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 09:45 PM

I'm using a Mac :P

Anyway this analogy doesn't really make sense. You suggest that popularity of a product or service gives an indication of quality. Take two products that do the same job, one superior than the other. The inferior product is marketed better than the superior product and becomes the market leader because of popularity, not because it is superior.


It doesn't make sense because I didn't say "inferior" or "superior". I said the public get to choose what they want. That might be the product that is better advertised.

#87 Northern Sol

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 09:46 PM

What has who is building it got to do with it?
I'm talking about who pays for it and who takes the rewards and profit. There is only one winner here (and of course one loser)


And I'm saying that there wouldn't be any profit if the government were to operate it alone. Hard to see not losing money makes them into losers.

#88 John Rhino

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 09:49 PM

The "fact" that you quoted was a "lower price" that's capitalism 101. People prefer lower prices to higher ones.

People also prefer more use to less use - hence porn was significant.

No, its a false market. The companies sold the product below cost to the companies that we rented them from.
The consumer had no choice in what type they could rent.
Thus the competition, Betamax, was destroyed.

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#89 Severus

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 10:02 PM

It doesn't make sense because I didn't say "inferior" or "superior". I said the public get to choose what they want. That might be the product that is better advertised.

You think that is a good model for decisions regarding health, defence, education etc.?
Fides invicta triumphat

#90 gingerjon

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 06:54 AM

I said the public get to choose what they want.


Porn fans who wanted Betamax had no choice and their lack of choice meant that eventually nobody else had any choice either.

I'm given to understand - though feel free to correct - that the reason we have an entirely consistent global internet is because profit and the market were entirely and deliberately removed from its development. The people who would make money from it came late in the day.
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#91 WearyRhino

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 07:11 AM

It doesn't make sense because I didn't say "inferior" or "superior". I said the public get to choose what they want. That might be the product that is better advertised.


You seem to suppose that choice is free whereas it rarely, if ever, is.

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#92 RidingPie

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 07:20 AM

I'm sad to say that on page 5 of the discussion and I've still not seen any evidence that privatisation lowers prices in the UK market. Though it has seemed to in the past.

BT was used as a positive example but I'm not sure I even believe that. Back in 1998 I was contracted out to BT and having a chat with one of the senior managers he claimed that, had the company stayed public, they had been looking at free local calls, which of course the US has had for a very long time, but when they were privatised offcomm wouldn't let them offer it because no one would be able to compete. Now we do have a a few, a very few companies who offer free local calls, but its 14 years later. I appreciate this is anecdotal evidence at best but the guy was very high up and had no reason to lie to me.

So what do we think screws this up in the UK. Or doesn't the model work anywhere?

#93 Wolford6

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 07:35 AM

I'm sad to say that on page 5 of the discussion and I've still not seen any evidence that privatisation lowers prices in the UK market. Though it has seemed to in the past.

BT was used as a positive example but I'm not sure I even believe that. Back in 1998 I was contracted out to BT and having a chat with one of the senior managers he claimed that, had the company stayed public, they had been looking at free local calls, which of course the US has had for a very long time, but when they were privatised offcomm wouldn't let them offer it because no one would be able to compete. Now we do have a a few, a very few companies who offer free local calls, but its 14 years later. I appreciate this is anecdotal evidence at best but the guy was very high up and had no reason to lie to me.

So what do we think screws this up in the UK. Or doesn't the model work anywhere?


I used to play rugby with a (pre-privatisation) BT engineer. He told me that BT had been offered a deal whereby all inter-UK calls would be free if adverts were played for a short period before the connection went through. users could press a code-number first if they wanted to pay BT to skip the adverts.

Under Scrutiny by the Right-On Thought Police


#94 JohnM

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 08:00 AM

BT was used as a positive example but I'm not sure I even believe that. Back in 1998 I was contracted out to BT and having a chat with one of the senior managers he claimed that, had the company stayed public, they had been looking at free local calls,


I have direct experience of the general uselessness of BT when it was a state -owned monopoly. During all this time they displayed a splendid "can't do" or rather "shan't do" attitude. Their attitude to any company that wanted to connect non-BT equipment to their ageing network was a scandal an in complete defiance of the regulations. For example, I have been in meetings with BT and our customer when the BT technician point blank refused to connect our equipment to the network, despite all the necessary paperwork and BT Technical Guide No 5 ( i think it was)

In addition, the waiting list for even a party line in Atherton in 1968 was......2 years!!!

Anyway, its not screwed up in the UK. Having lived and worked under both regimes, I know which one I prefer.

#95 Severus

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 08:04 AM

Funny how the majority of your arguments involve a tale if a personal experience. Do you not ever consider that wider picture? Your current situation is quite comfortable and you have been fortunate, would your views be the same if that wasn't the case?
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#96 RidingPie

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 08:22 AM

I have direct experience of the general uselessness of BT when it was a state -owned monopoly. During all this time they displayed a splendid "can't do" or rather "shan't do" attitude. Their attitude to any company that wanted to connect non-BT equipment to their ageing network was a scandal an in complete defiance of the regulations. For example, I have been in meetings with BT and our customer when the BT technician point blank refused to connect our equipment to the network, despite all the necessary paperwork and BT Technical Guide No 5 ( i think it was)

In addition, the waiting list for even a party line in Atherton in 1968 was......2 years!!!

Anyway, its not screwed up in the UK. Having lived and worked under both regimes, I know which one I prefer.


John, if you look through my posts I've never said that nationalisation was a good thing, however I DID say that I wouldn't want to see them go back to being nationalised. They usual argument given for privatisation is that it increases competition, brings down prices and drives up quality. I've just consistently said I've never seen it bring down prices. Your argument above is saying they've improved the quality of service, fair enough, I won't argue. But I've never seen a price drop through privatisation. Have you? There are instances where I wouldn't mind a not great service for it being cheap. We never get offered that option.

#97 JohnM

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 09:19 AM

I never said that you said nationalisation was a good thing, honest! :)

As to the direct issue, I reckon we will never know how much say electricity would have cost had it not been privatised. Had it remained nationalised, the industries income would have had to come from somewhere because eventually, the plant and network would have needed huge investment, though under the general regime at that time, I contend that the load would not have increased as much as it has because the poor performance of the nationalised industries was restricting economic growth and therefore demand.

However for me, just like for those who take the opposite view, it is a matter of principle - the state should be interfering as little as possible, notas much as possible.

#98 JohnM

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 09:30 AM

Funny how the majority of your arguments involve a tale if a personal experience. Do you not ever consider that wider picture? Your current situation is quite comfortable and you have been fortunate, would your views be the same if that wasn't the case?


It's not always funny being this old as you'll find out for yourself at some point. :D In 50 years of paid work ( yup, I was paid to go to college full time- just over £2 a week and no grant!)I have seen and done a lot of things! However, Having been borne in the immediate post war years, I have also lived through real austerity..when as a kid we did not have enough money for school trips and uniform, rationing, the Coronation, the launch of ITV, industrial unrest,strikes economic growth and recession several times, unlimited tackles, jumpers for goalposts, :wacko:

Indeed, I am still working as I have to make ends meet somehow, though I do enjoy what I do. I have offspring who are doing OK and have have offspring who are too chronically ill to work. I reckon my personal experience is not that much different to the average.

#99 Ackroman

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 10:05 AM

I'm sad to say that on page 5 of the discussion and I've still not seen any evidence that privatisation lowers prices in the UK market. Though it has seemed to in the past.

BT was used as a positive example but I'm not sure I even believe that. Back in 1998 I was contracted out to BT and having a chat with one of the senior managers he claimed that, had the company stayed public, they had been looking at free local calls, which of course the US has had for a very long time, but when they were privatised offcomm wouldn't let them offer it because no one would be able to compete. Now we do have a a few, a very few companies who offer free local calls, but its 14 years later. I appreciate this is anecdotal evidence at best but the guy was very high up and had no reason to lie to me.

So what do we think screws this up in the UK. Or doesn't the model work anywhere?


I suppose the problem you're having is that price is one factor but there are those who tend to measure the service quality just as much.

A purely conservative view would see a sacrifice in service worth having because there's always someone else out there desperate enough to offer the same price for a short term increase in service quality. So you just hop around. I think broadband is a good example of this but also a good example of privatisation being a massive con. 20mbs - who gets that? We pay for it but get 0.5mbs unless you log on at midnight.

A socialist would look for the social reward. In the above example, we all get broadband realistically priced. For the level of quality we actually receive, a nationalised industry would add more value to society.

If the government would have allowed private industry to invest in telecoms to add new technologies and then compete with the nationalised sector we may have had a much broader more competitive array of services in telecoms. You could argue that this is what we have with the Post Office.

Edited by Ackroman, 23 October 2012 - 10:06 AM.


#100 RidingPie

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 10:33 AM

I suppose the problem you're having is that price is one factor but there are those who tend to measure the service quality just as much.

A purely conservative view would see a sacrifice in service worth having because there's always someone else out there desperate enough to offer the same price for a short term increase in service quality. So you just hop around. I think broadband is a good example of this but also a good example of privatisation being a massive con. 20mbs - who gets that? We pay for it but get 0.5mbs unless you log on at midnight.

A socialist would look for the social reward. In the above example, we all get broadband realistically priced. For the level of quality we actually receive, a nationalised industry would add more value to society.

If the government would have allowed private industry to invest in telecoms to add new technologies and then compete with the nationalised sector we may have had a much broader more competitive array of services in telecoms. You could argue that this is what we have with the Post Office.


Its a fair point, but as I've said it always seems that this 'greater competition' leads to an increase in services. In a truly open market you'd have providers who offer different ranges of service and price, but in the UK they seem to focus on service and the budget options seems, not quite so budget, with the excuse being (like directory enquiries) 'ahh but the service is better'.

The broadband is also an interesting thought because it seems when local people try and take matters in to their own hands the big boys get the lawyers out to try and stop them by any means necessary. See below

http://www.guardian....uncil-broadband




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