Captive State II – the follow-up

George Monbiot’s 2001 book Captive State was a masterful work – a fantastic dissection of the fallacy of PFI – the ‘private finance initiative’ which this government copied from the last tory government as the way to fund public projects like hospitals and schools.

Even in 2001, Monbiot was able to show what an utter disaster the project has been in terms of the amount of government money squandered on projects that fail the end user and line the pockets of the directors of the corporations responsible for the projects – projects that were frequently late, over budget and woefully inadequate. The technical term for this in political and economic circles is a right royal fuckup. It’s been a disaster.

And how much of a disaster – in today’s Guardian, George posts this follow-up to the story of coventry hospital, or rather what was coventry hospitalS – plural – until the cost of refurbing them was deemed to low and the returns to slight to get any big money investors interested so they scrapped them both and built a new one out of town… initial budget – £174m. Cost of refurbing BOTH the existing hospitals? £30m. As George notes in his article – ” In March 2007, the Birmingham Post reported that the final cost was £410m.”

Go and read it, and be outraged. It’s sick. It’s even more sick that it’s a so-called labour government that did it. At a time when our American cousins are becoming increasingly aware of how having nationalised health care doesn’t mean you become Stalinist Russia, any more than not paying a policeman every time he arrests a crim on your behalf would, we’re letting the government dismantle public services on behalf of big business by not holding them to account for their false duality in presenting us with the options – we were told that we could either have old beaurocratic crumbling NHS (which wasn’t really all that crumbling after all) or new shiny PFI one run by shitheads in board-rooms. It’s a lie, of gargantuan proportions, when a proper publicly funded and transparently consulted and reported overhaul of the NHS would have been both cheaper AND better.

Read George’s article about the balls-up in Coventry, then multiply that up by the number of hospitals, schools, bridges, road-schemes, that have been funded, scale it up over the next 30 years of GUARANTEED revenue, and then throw in British Rail and the BBC as more projects that were sold off under the same false assumption that the options were business-as-usual or sell it off… the cost, both in financial terms and the degradation of public services is astronomical… ‘ever feel like you’ve been cheated?’

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