25 July 2013

Taxpayer as Shareholder

A guest post from Gerald Hartley, local green activist in Stroud and south-west regional elections co-ordinator

The British tax payer is a ‘shareholder’ in the state enterprise in all its many forms.  Over the decades this ‘enterprise’ accumulated assets worth billions of pounds. Coal mines, railway stations lines and rolling stock, power stations, steel works, canals, bus companies, lorry fleets, a national grid of gas pipelines and electricity lines, telephone lines, water mains and sewage pipes, pumping stations and treatment plants, council houses, hospitals, health centres and clinics, town halls, fire and police stations, roads and bridges, libraries, schools and colleges, elderly persons and children’s homes.  Why did it do so?  Because the private sector failed to provide all the things needed for the common good.

The Thatcher era began and governments ever since have continued, to sell those assets cheaply to the private sector and use the cash to make their financial performance look better than it was.  But now it is also a cover for the lack of revenue caused by the financial crash brought about by the very people that fund and support the Tory party.

Where asset sales cannot be justified, such as schools, pseudo-private organisations are constructed to eliminate democratic input and maximise elite structures. This is the very serious underlying aim of the Tory party – an elite society with everything owned and run by their friends and supporters to protect their common interests, untroubled by the rest of us.  They can see that financial crisis may come and go, but privatisation only gets reversed in a revolution.

So we the tax-paying shareholders in the UK state, have lost most of our assets, suffer reduced services, but pay the same tax and receive no dividends.  When the Tories crow that they have kept the council tax at the same level for 3 years, do you laugh or cry?  But it’s the kind of propaganda that keeps them at the helm.

In the 18th Century, there was little that the peasants could do to oppose the Enclosures of common land.  This saying, from that time, seems strangely apt all this time later.

‘The law doth punish man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common
But lets the greater felon loose
Who steals the common from the goose’ 

Geese are not very bright.  So maybe it’s time for the ‘have nots’ to demonstrate that they are brighter than that and stop blaming Europe, immigrants or anything else handy and take the trouble to understand just how the globalised financial system is designed to benefit a tiny minority at the expense of the planet and every species living on it.

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