Pension Funds To The Rescue! Raiding Private Capital To Build Public Assets
PENSION funds to the rescue! This is being greeted with glee over in leftyland:
Ministers are finalising a radical plan to boost investment in UK infrastructure and stimulate the economy, with proposals to pool the vast assets held in British pension funds and use them to back an ambitious programme of road and house building.
Pension and insurance funds are to be encouraged to invest up to £50bn in improving infrastructure, including private and social housing, power stations, super-fast broadband and motorway toll roads.
Those huge pots of private capital are to be mobilised to build the public assets and infrastructure we need! Take that capitalist bastards!
This isn’t of course, what is happening. What actually is happening is that the scene is being set for the privatisation of that public infrastructure. Allow me to explain.
We’ve got something called “public goods”. They’re nice things to have, take a road for example. Our problem is that roads are free at the point of use: there’s no way to charge someone for using it. So those filthy capitalist bastards, meanies that they are, won’t build roads for us to use for free. Because they cannot get their money back.
Now, we could just say tough. You’ve got the money, put it where the government tells you to. Happened often enough in enough other countries but that’s rather violating that minor thing called property rights. So, what is it that the government is really suggesting today?
Correct: it’s going to make sure that the capitalist bastards can actually make money out of providing these public goods. With our road example, they’re going to let people build toll roads. Sure, you can use our shiny new capitalist highway: just hand over £5 every time you do. They’re not going to force anyone to do anything at all: they’re rather going to allow people to profit from building things that we usually get for free (umm, through taxes rather).
This isn’t privatisation of current things: it’s privatisation of future infrastructure. And I have a feeling that when leftyland wakes up to this they’re going to be a lot less happy about it.