Do you remember a time when New Zealand had loads of jobs, good welfare, affordable education, and when everyone had a fair crack at achieving – well, pretty much anything?
I barely do. But it was like that once.
I have recently been travelling – I hadn’t been in Holland for 26 years. When I left there in the mid 1980s, the most common forms of transport were bikes and trains. People in big cities like Amsterdam and Rotterdam often didn’t own cars at all, and didn’t aspire to car ownership, or at least went years without owning them. Trains were frequent, on time, affordable and efficient, and covered almost every corner of that small, densely populated country.
The national train service employed people, gave them skills and they were a part of the fabric of the country, keeping it humming and connected.
Last month I found myself on a Dutch motorway comprising five lanes in both directions, all stopped or moving at snail’s pace.
Why? They privatised the railways in Holland. Train travel almost immediately became more expensive, less efficient and, in short order, much less used. So people started buying cars.
In response, the government started pumping up the motorway networks, adding lanes on lanes, even though space is always at a premium, and despite a dense rail network.
Dutch people buy cars to the detriment of … almost everything. Parking is a nightmare, motorways are clogged (ha ha), it’s bad for the environment — and it was all completely unnecessary.
Should anyone be surprised?
When you sell a state owned enterprise to a private concern, is it any surprise it’s bought as a cash cow, then milked for every cent possible?
When it’s no longer viable and everyone is complaining enough, the state will have to buy it back anyway to get the freight (or whatever) and the country moving again – another great revenue jump for that private concern.
These entrepreneurs must really think we’re idiots. Unfortunately, again and again, they’re proved right.
Because people don’t set up businesses for the benefit of other people. They don’t build a company to create jobs, education, services and other benefits for a populace. They create businesses for power, profit and position. Any workers employed simply add to all of the above.
Do you want to know who does set up businesses for the greater good? To create jobs, futures, build skills and, in the best examples, as beneficial and thoughtful future-proofing for a population’s best interest, and the country’s?