Home | About | Donate

Don't Believe the Corbyn Bashers - The Economic Case Against Public Ownership Is Mostly Fantasy


Don't Believe the Corbyn Bashers - The Economic Case Against Public Ownership Is Mostly Fantasy

Joe Guinan, Thomas Hanna

E.P. Thompson, the great historian of the English working class, famously warned of the need to rescue our labour movement forebears from “the enormous condescension of posterity.” Today, with Jeremy Corbyn poised to take over the leadership of the Labour Party on a wave of popular acclaim, we can appreciate Thompson’s injunction all the more.


When the lobbyists working for the speculators who wanted a rationale for eviscerating the Glass-Steagal Act were faced with the resulting financial implosions, they needed a story--or scape goat.

When powers that fixed their sights and profits ON war needed a pretext, they created one.

And so, it's not surprising that the Shadow Elites required sellable arguments in making their cases for privatizing the enormous number of programs formerly run by government entities.

With all that being said, gratitude goes out to those tacticians who don't shy away from studying the numbers; and by that I mean, the relative profits drawn from government/nationalized versus private entities. They did the heavy lifting in discrediting the Thatcher-Reagan "govt. is bad" arguments that only have continued in circulation because private industries benefit so richly from this canard.

This paragraph's wisdom bears repeating:

“[A]n enterprise’s profitability summarizes all the indicators of economic efficiency as seen from the viewpoint of its private owners,” it states. “But from the point of view of national economic growth and development, social costs and benefits, which are not reflected in profitability, can be no less important. For example, when a privatized enterprise achieves profitability by dismissing its excess workers, the economy as a whole does not necessarily become more efficient. If economic conditions prevent the fired workers from finding other employment or starting their own business, this downsizing might lead to an overall economic loss for the country because people were moved from low-productivity jobs to zero-productivity unemployment.”

This is also savvy and important:

"On the basis of the evidence available, then, public ownership is decidedly not inherently less efficient. Sweeping claims to the contrary should be treated as ideologically motivated. The question for the British left at this point should not be a technical economic one about efficiency but a political one about power, democracy, the social benefits of ownership, and which particular forms of collective enterprise we might wish to promote."


While this article is long, I encourage readers to read it through since the authors are very witty, excellent word-craftsmen, and put together a case that supports the goal that many here seem to support:

“I believe in public ownership, but I have never favoured the remote nationalised model that prevailed in the post-war era. Like a majority of the population and a majority of even Tory voters, I want the railways back in public ownership. But public control should mean just that, not simply state control: so we should have passengers, rail workers and government too, co-operatively running the railways to ensure they are run in our interests and not for private profit. This model should replace both the old Labour model of top-down operation by central diktat and Tories favoured model of unaccountable privatised operators running our public services for their own ends.”


I read this and wonder if I missed the single most important corporate subsidy enforced by government?

Immortal super citizen corporatistas are given the right to plunder, pollute and poison. Such beings are not required to clean up after themselves and are given direct subsidies by governments when and where fines and employee prison terms are more appropriate.

Corporate profit is improperly labeled money saved from cleaning up the normal messes of doing business.


This is all a trifle highbrow, A person driving a train is a person driving a train whether they are paid for by a corporate or a government body. Neither model by itself gets the train from A to B any faster. However, the article does touch on the very sick tendency to measure efficiency in terms of money.
If money is the measure, of course private enterprise looks more efficient - a perspective that completely ignores the people that actually work within and use any service. Beware all conversation centred on money.


Exactly. I have to admit it took me a while to figure out the grand scam of measuring everything by dollars, pounds, euros, yens or whatever... As long as that is the measure ruthless businesses will win everytime. It's like a hundred metre race between an olympic sprinter and a fireman.

Keep them consuming their way into debt. Keep fleecing them for interest. Reward wealth. Fine people for being poor. Privatise everything. That's why it all has to be analysed in terms of money.