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Rail nationalisations may be coming down the track

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caravanman

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Our former British Rail public ownership of the UK rail system was broken up and sold off to several train operating companies, as well as track maintenance being performed by a different company.
Due to the Covid-19 fall in passenger numbers, it seems that once the UK Govt. financial support finishes in a few days, some train operating companies might just walk away...

BBC story about UK train Covid-19 situation...
 

mcropod

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Our former British Rail public ownership of the UK rail system was broken up and sold off to several train operating companies, as well as track maintenance being performed by a different company.
Due to the Covid-19 fall in passenger numbers, it seems that once the UK Govt. financial support finishes in a few days, some train operating companies might just walk away...

BBC story about UK train Covid-19 situation...
Which is the capitalists' preferred economic model: privatise the profits, socialise the losses!
 

Exvalley

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Which is the capitalists' preferred economic model: privatise the profits, socialise the losses!
No, capitalists believe in a free market. They believe that if something is losing money it deserves to go out of business. They view money losing operations as inefficient and therefore a drain on the overall economy.
 

Exvalley

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Dunno, some capitalists seem happy to take public money, run essential businesses and take a profit, but run a mile when the going gets tough. There probably is a different description for them, beginning with Bas***** :mad:
You are confusing crony capitalism for actual capitalism.

Your example is used by capitalists as an argument for why government should stay out of the private market. Capitalists do not believe that government should prop up private enterprises. They believe that the economy is best served by letting the inefficient businesses fall to the wayside. Businesses that are actually profitable in a capitalist system are profitable because they are providing something that people actually want - which is exactly the type of business that you want to encourage.
 
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Exvalley

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I am sure you are right, making a "profit" is all that matters in a capitalist society, no need to have a social conscience. I guess that's why America thinks that Global Warming is not it's concern, not much profit in saving the world?
Woah! Relax!

All I was pointing out was that you were incorrect as to what capitalism actually is. I was not commenting in the slightest on my personal viewpoints and, regardless, even the most diehard capitalist understands that government must provide certain functions.

That said, one of the most successful ice cream companies on the planet, Ben and Jerry's, became successful because they openly touted their social conscience. (There is some compelling research that they made a determination that their social programs were cheaper than advertising.) Many other companies have followed their lead. Profits and a social conscience can co-exist given the right circumstances.

There is also a reason why communist countries made inferior products compared to capitalist countries. Again, a company can only achieve a profit in a capitalist system if it provides something that people actually want to exchange their hard earned money for. In a communist system... not so much. You take the crap and like it!

If you look at modern day society, the countries that seem to have things figured out the best are countries that fully embrace capitalism but also offer a robust social safety net.

And before you argue that the nordic countries are socialist, please take the time to read this: Sorry Bernie Bros But Nordic Countries Are Not Socialist
 
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jis

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In the modern worlds, privately run companies do not run in a vacuum. They run within a framework provided by the government for them to run in. In the process of setting up this framework decisions have to be made about which part of the total costs is born by the framework provided by the government and which part is the responsibility of the private company. Then the private company is set free to recover its part of the cost and make money by earning more than the costs allocated to it.

Just because something is run by a private company does not mean that there are no public costs, both monetary and social (unmonetized) that are implicitly involved in its successful operation. I believe the statement about socializing losses and capitalizing profits is a glib statement of this fact. Even in the wildest of laissez-faire days government (and via it, the society at large) underwrote all sorts of risks, sometimes recovering those costs through increased taxation or imputed contract payments, and sometimes not.

Even the East India Company, which was a company chartered by the Parliament to manage an entire subcontinent in effect, managed to enrich a lot of people by milking the subcontinent it was supposed to manage and even the British Government that gave it the franchise. But when things went south in 1857, it fully expected to be rescued by the British Government, and of course the government extracted its own pound of flesh by essentially "nationalizing" it, much to their own detriment eventually, when the government itself went bankrupt due to various reasons, and defaulted viz-a-ciz that subcontinent.

Now specifically the discussion about whether a service for the common good should be provided by the government IMHO is better carried out without getting enmeshed in the capitalism vs. socialism argument. It is better to discuss how the responsibilities are to be divided between the government and private entities for most efficient operation.

IMHO the British went quite a bit overboard without thinking things through based on a doctrinaire approach alone (a hope and a prayer) when they decided to franchise away everything including the infrastructure. The latter failed quite spectacularly, causing the decision to be reversed. Right now what the rail setup is in the UK resembles what the road setup is in both the UK and the US.

The infrastructure is built and maintained by the government, albeit using contracted private companies in many cases. The services using the infrastructure are provided by either private companies with no specific relation to the government or they are actually managed through grants of franchise by the government. The British rail setup at present is mostly the latter. There are bits like the ECML service (LNER) that is sort of like Amtrak in the US - a quasi in house franchisee.

When one talks of nationalizing in that context it is mostly about taking those franchises back from private companies and giving those to government subsidiaries instead. In the US Amtrak is an example of that. Typically this is done when private companies fail to meet their obligations for providing the service that the society desires to receive. As for whether things will improve as a result of this change is yet to be seen. Arguably the amount of service available today in the UK is vastly greater than was available in the waning days of British Railways, and many routes that had been discontinued have had service restored. A lot of additional money both from the government and from the private sector has also become available for deployment in support of such. In taking things back in house the question will remain as to whether the government will still be willing to continue its investment and whether and how it will cover the investments that are being made by private sources due to the stake they are given in the overall scheme of things. So as always there is now a lot of wishful thinking on the other side with no clear answers as to what will actually happen.

OK, now I am off the soap box.
 
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caravanman

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The current "Conservative" govt. here in the UK have no wish to "nationalise" anything, quite the opposite of course. Funny then how "the public purse" has to step in when private businesses fail. Shareholders have had a good pay out when profits are rich, but just throw in the towel when asked to back their business in hard times?

I doubt if I will ever get off my soap box, the truth matters too much... ;)
 

anumberone

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I am sure you are right, making a "profit" is all that matters in a capitalist society, no need to have a social conscience. I guess that's why America thinks that Global Warming is not it's concern, not much profit in saving the world?
Where did you get the idea Global Warming is not a concern for Americans. You know better than that.
 

Devil's Advocate

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No, capitalists believe in a free market.
If you go by what they say maybe, but if you go by the laws they write capitalists believe in a highly regulated market that heavily favors the investor class over the needs of the poor and working class.

You are confusing crony capitalism for actual capitalism.
Just like our actual leaders and lobbyists then. Capitalism is as capitalism does.
 

caravanman

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Where did you get the idea Global Warming is not a concern for Americans. You know better than that.
Well there is a clue when America withdrew from the Paris Climate agreement... Presidential promotion of coal use, etc, etc...

The point is that, imho, the way capitalism is all about making money, selling stuff at a profit, inventing new things to sell, using up finite resources is not actually a great plan for everyone on the planet, nor the planet itself.
 

Exvalley

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In 2019, the USA had the most significant CO2 reduction in the world on a country basis.
 

Exvalley

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The point is that, imho, the way capitalism is all about making money, selling stuff at a profit, inventing new things to sell, using up finite resources is not actually a great plan for everyone on the planet, nor the planet itself.
It’s a much more complicated issue than you are suggesting.

The improvement in the quality of life is what motivates the desire for continued economic growth. Simply put, capitalism, for all of its faults, has improved more lives than any other economic system. And it’s not as if the communist systems have proven to be respectful of the environment. Quite the opposite.

I agree with you that our “disposal” consumerism culture is very concerning from an environmental perspective. But as for resources, there are two ways in which value can be affected. One is what critics of economic growth tend to focus on: an increase in the quantity of production. The other way, however, is to increase the quality of what is produced.

GDP doesn’t just measure the production of goods, but also services. With increases in education, health care and other services, economic growth expands without large quantities of the Earth’s resources being consumed or the environment being harmed.

In fact, some economic growth can be good for the environment and reduce our dependence on natural resources. That includes expanding public transportation and making it more efficient, improving the energy efficiency of homes and businesses, producing more fuel-efficient vehicles, investing in non-polluting industrial processes, and cleaning up industrial waste sites.
 

caravanman

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The capitalist system is responsible for the pollution, the industrial waste. The price of cleaning up the sites, the oceans, cleaning rivers, is not included when the capitalists are running their "profitable" businesses. To claim that another system is "just as bad" does not elevate capitalism, in my opinion.

Is the destruction of the world the price we have to pay for a "healthy economy" ?

Anyway, maybe these capitalist train companies in the UK will stick to their contracts, but I don't think they will have much of a conscience if there is no profit in it, after all that's why they are running trains, not because they like trains...
 
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jis

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The capitalist system is responsible for the pollution, the industrial waste. The price of cleaning up the sites, the oceans, cleaning rivers, is not included when the capitalists are running their "profitable" businesses. To claim that another system is "just as bad" does not elevate capitalism, in my opinion.
The real issue at hand is that oirrespective of whatever ism one wants to call the thing being practiced, it appears that what has been operating for the last couple of centuries is evol;ution from feudalism to olygopoly. Socialism, as in Communism in all major practices was at least as bad as capitalism if not worse. All that happened effectively is that a gang managed to get hold of the socialized businesses and combined it with a "control by terror" regime using state powers, and then proceeded to destroy the environment like never seen before.

So I would still maintain that the discussion really needs to be about what is the best governance structure to achieve the goals of clean sustainable growth instead of arguing about capitalism vs. socialism, neither of which has been practiced in pure form for obvious reasons.
 

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v v

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To help a fellow Brit out here maybe the American understanding of Socialism and the European version are different.

In the US you appear to link Communism and Socialism as very close and similar ideologies, that doesn't happen to so much in Europe, they are seen as different ideas.

It's possible to be a capitalist here with a social conscience, in the US having a social conscience could earn a 'Lefty' label I believe.

Maybe a middle ground is the way to go? Having an elected government creating rules for us all to live within, under which successful capitalists being prepared to pay their fair share of taxes and lefties to stop whinging and objecting to people who have had the gumption to earn more than their neighbour.
 

caravanman

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At the end of the day, with reference to the original topic, it does seem to me that many private companies are awarded contracts to operate "public interest" businesses, like trains, they make money for shareholders, but when things get tough, they just walk away, leaving a mess behind that the public has to then fund.
The whole capitalist v socialist/communist debate is probably a bit beyond my grasp, but come the revolution, I know which side I will be on. Yawn. :D

Now, who is up for discussing the private business run shambles that is the UK Covid-19 "Test and Trace" fiasco... ;)
 
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anumberone

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At the end of the day, with reference to the original topic, it does seem to me that many private companies are awarded contracts to operate "public interest" businesses, like trains, they make money for shareholders, but when things get tough, they just walk away, leaving a mess behind that the public has to then fund.
The whole capitalist v socialist/communist debate is probably a bit beyond my grasp, but come the revolution, I know which side I will be on. Yawn. :D

Now, who is up for discussing the private business run shambles that is the UK Covid-19 "Test and Trace" fiasco... ;)
One thing that is not beyond my grasp is the difference in air quality in Los Angeles from the 60s and now. I don't know know if it will continue. It's been trumped by a fool.
 

jis

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At the end of the day, with reference to the original topic, it does seem to me that many private companies are awarded contracts to operate "public interest" businesses, like trains, they make money for shareholders, but when things get tough, they just walk away, leaving a mess behind that the public has to then fund.
The whole capitalist v socialist/communist debate is probably a bit beyond my grasp, but come the revolution, I know which side I will be on. Yawn. :D
I am not so sure having lived through the tyranny of "Goonda Raj" fielded by a bonafide elected "Communist" government in West Bengal. West Bengal is yet to fully recover economically from that piece of tender care that it received from the Reds, while the Chief Minister's son happily went off to the US to get educated and build his career there. I bet he just lied on the visa questionnaire which asked for any Communist associations in the past. 🤪

And trust me, I am no great sympathizer of Capitalists either. But the human beings and their inherent nature remains the same on both side. No side has the inside track on saints.

I think in addition to philosophies spouted by the proponents, I will also pay close attention to the actual track records of the people involved.
 
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caravanman

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I don't imagine either system is perfect, but somehow the idea that if an area is not suitable for growing food, you send them food because they need it, not sell it to them to improve the economy, that fits better in my mind.

Cuba sends doctors cheaply all over the world to help, yet suffers a blockade, Why?

I am not familiar with the West Bengal situation, but do not folk suffer under the capitalist system too, with places like Detroit throwing thousands of employees out of income when "capitalists" take their capital abroad to create more profit?

It often seems to me that once a leftish govt. is elected, the capitalist interests both within and outside that country determine to bring it to it's knees.

I don't think most folk need worry about the UK trains becoming "red", as soon as the situation picks up and profits are to be had, the conservative govt. will be happy to sell them off cheaply again to their chums...
 

Exvalley

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I don't imagine either system is perfect, but somehow the idea that if an area is not suitable for growing food, you send them food because they need it, not sell it to them to improve the economy, that fits better in my mind.
Yes, Venezuela and North Korea are doing a great job with feeding their people. And those poor South Koreans going hungry because they chose capitalism instead...

Capitalism creates competition, which spurs innovation and lowers prices. This has led to the ability to feed more people for much less cost than any other economic system.

I have previously supported greater social safety nets. But proven losing economic systems? I draw the line there.
 
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caravanman

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My belief is that there is plenty of food available to feed the world, but it is your adherence to the need for a profit that stops the hungry being fed. I guess blockades don't exactly help either...

I wonder why you feel that folk working together, co-operating, can't spur creativity and innovation? No profit to cream off?
 
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