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Democrat November-December 2013 (Number 138)

So Greed is Good

Arthur Smelt's point of view

Years ago an Italian joke came to the fore about a man who bought a super modern car. The car was so technologically advanced the car radio responded to verbal commands. One day the car driver came upon a cyclist who was riding erratically in front of him. He shouted at the cyclist calling him a silly idiot. The radio responded by repeating, Berlusconi, Berlusconi, Berlusconi. Tempting though it is to use the name Borisconi, perhaps it would scarcely be appropriate.

However when Boris Johnson says "greed is good," who is it good for? Maybe he is trying to ingratiate himself with the big money boys. Anyone with a modicum of nous cannot but realize the damage greed creates for wider society.

We have only to examine what is happening throughout the EU with all the issues surrounding economic failure with all the other, resulting in unemployment, poverty and so on. The economics of laissez faire are not working. What works best, a Blair motto, is not being applied.

Public utilities are being handed to the private sector at give away prices. The latest is Royal Mail where it is acknowledged it was sold at a give away price. The same can be said of the railways and the way in which PFI is being used to rob the NHS. Private loans are being paid back over 30 years costing many billions more than if direct public funding had been used. In addition simple maintenance charges are unbelievable. Drug companies and private contractors have been allowed to fleece the NHS for years and creeping privatisation is gathering pace.

Some time ago reports appeared exposing the outrageous cost of simple hospital maintenance. The installation of a dishwasher at Hull and East Yorks Hospital Trust came to £8,450. At North Cumbria University Trust the replacement of a light fitting cost £466 and to install a bell in reception cost £184. The examples are endless.

Contracts have been given to one company to supervise tagging of criminals. According to reports the company itself has been guilty of cheating.

Another company has been given a contract to determine whether handicapped people were fit for work. They have assessed people as fit when they were not, It seems that human welfare counts little where money is concerned. Private prisons are another area where profiteering can jeopardise efficient functioning of service. In the USA it is not unknown for judges to be offered bribes to send people to jail unnecessarily.

The energy industry is another area handed over to the private sector. All the wheeling and dealing which goes on in this sector is difficult to follow. Again profit is far more important than human welfare. The fact that official figures state that 31,000 elderly people died of cold last winter is of little consequence to the profiteers.

We live in a world where natural disasters seem to be happening more and more often. Massive forest fires, floods, earthquakes and tornados. This has alerted people to the billion pound industry of charities.

There is little wonder people are becoming increasingly angry with their so called elected representatives many of whom are seen as self-seeking and not representing the electorate. Ordinary people feel they are under constant pressure, financially and in other ways. Their trust in banks, police, financial regulators is at rock bottom. Greed is a killer.