The Backward Logic of Privatisation

Public sector workers are not a cost to the economy; quite the contrary, they are producers of value

Those that want to get rid of our Council imply that others can do it better, that there is something innate and useless about the Isle of Wight workers. Partly it is used to outsource work or keep wages low or tell people that they should be happy to have a job, a temporary one at that and consider themselves lucky to have one more day’s pay.The viewpoint is condescending, false and is designed to undermine confidence.

They suggest public sector workers are a cost to the economy and should be eliminated. The idea of cutting service to help dig the Council out of debt reduce County Hall staff down to a minimum and a commissioning group would result in savings beyond 2016/17 according to David Burbage the Council’s chief director.

They push this unscientific logic to attack the wages and benefits of public sector workers and make their jobs a target for privatisation or outright elimination. According to their view, a bus driver, Crossing Patroller or waste recycling worker produces no value from which a portion is dedicated to pay wages and benefits.That is why they were happy to get rid of the responsibility of buses, wrap up Wightbus and give it to the GoAhead monopoly.

It is happening in schools with caretakers, Teaching Assistants, many of whom are now working for Academy Trusts instead of the Local Education Authority.

Following their line of reasoning, if they are public sector workers, their wages are a cost to the public enterprise for which they work, which translates into a drain on the council Taxpayer.

If they work for a private enterprise, the workers in turn produce no value to pay for their wages and benefits, but in this case, their wages and benefits are a cost to the private owners of the enterprise and a burden on them and not on the public treasury.

To the relief of Council Officer top brass, the transfer of work from the public realm to the private sector or its elimination altogether saves the public treasury the cost of the wages and benefits of the bus driver, waste recycling worker, crossing patroller or other public workers, and the means of production, which they use while working.

People are supposed to applaud the heroism of private entrepreneurs, mostly big monopolies in this era of monopoly capitalism, for taking on through privatisation the cost and burden of the wages and benefits of public sector workers and their means of production.

But why would private entrepreneurs want to assume this cost and burden of paying wages and buying means of production? What is in it for them that is not there for public enterprise? Privatisation would not take place unless some profit or gain was in it for the privateers. Maybe it’s magic. Perhaps something mysterious occurs when public sector work is privatised that introduces a way to generate value and make profit that does not exist with a public enterprise. Supposedly with privatisation, profit suddenly appears that somehow was not there with public ownership. The Council executive or the officers do not explain the mystery of privatisation because nothing can be explained; it can only be asserted. It exists in capitalist faith and empty propaganda not in economic science.

The value workers create exists equally in public and private enterprise. Their wages are paid from a portion of the value they create. The profit from the value they create is claimed by both public and private enterprises.

The private enterprise distributes the profit the way it wants, most likely into the coffers of certain owners. The public enterprise distributes the profit according to its policies, perhaps broadly through lower prices amongst private enterprises that require the public service or infrastructure; or possibly, a portion of the profit is poured back into the public enterprise or Council treasury and supports budget deficit and Austerity costs due to cuts in Government grants.

In public and private sectors, the bus drivers, waste recycling workers,crossing patrollers or other workers are the productive social force, the actual producers who create the value. Their wages and benefits come from the value they create whether they work for a public or private enterprise. Likewise, the profit comes from the value workers create whether for a public or private enterprise.

No value is saved when public sector work is privatised or eliminated. When privatised, certain private owners of social wealth become the claimants of the profit workers produce. If the work is eliminated, no value is created to claim and the economy and people suffer the loss. Privatisation, austerity, wrecking of the economy and concessions by workers are not solutions to the economy’s problems. A new pro-social direction is the solution that leads to building the island economy and its success as an island entity.

Capitalists want to claim for themselves the value workers create. For capitalists, the value workers claim or any value claimed in the broad public interest and good and not in the narrow private interest of a privileged few is a waste, a cost and burden.

The capitalists do not want to admit that workers are the source of value in the modern economy. If they admit the truth, then the obvious question arises as to why workers do not control the value they create and the means of production, which they have built and use to produce value. Control by the actual producers of the production process and the value they create would give the economy a modern motive, outlook and organisation in conformity with its socialised nature. It would be a great step forward in resolving the contradictions and problems now confronting the economy and society.

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