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UK Gov't Outlines Plans To Privatize Royal Mail

timothy posted about a year ago | from the anarchy-in-the-uk dept.

Communications 220

Ellie K writes "After 500 years, Britain announced plans to fully privatize Royal Mail today. Shares of stock (common equity) will be offered to the public 'in coming weeks', according to Reuters. 10% of shares will be given to current Royal Mail employees, Deal size is estimated at $US 3 to 4.7 billion. Goldman Sachs and UBS were chosen as lead advisers." That doesn't mean you'll be able to buy a piece tomorrow, though; as the BBC's report notes, "The plans have provoked strong opposition from unions. The Communication Workers Union (CWU) is currently balloting members on strike action. Ballot papers are due to go out on 20 September to 125,000 Royal Mail workers. The earliest possible strike date would be 10 October. Plans to privatise the 250-year-old postal service have been on successive governments' agendas since the early 1990s."

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fattening the cow (4, Informative)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44828891)

The RM has already been broken up and sold off in stages, each made worse:

- PO Telephones became British Telecom became British Telecom Plc. in the '80s.

- Post Offices are barely even owned by one company any more, with each outlet acting as an independent contractor.

- Much of the post is processed by private firms which get the profitable work, while RM is stuck with the last mile, and all the unprofitable routes.

- All the above has meant typical public-private partnership inefficiency, such that the price of sending letters has gone up recently way above the rate of inflation - with special increases in the last two years to reflect fattening of the cow for sale.

Just another ideological move by a country slipping down into oblivion. Will make a few people rich, though. I expect China will be interested in a piece of the pie - it's been buying up a few British infrastructure companies recently. They know how to manipulate "capitalism" all the way to the bank.

Re:fattening the cow (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44828973)

So i had this idea about piercing one of my testicles. Not the sac but the actual testicle. I mean i never heard of anybody else doing that before and that would just be so hardcore! Problem is - i keep passing out before i can get the needle all the way through. I just got a nut with a few shallow holes in it but nothing i can put a earring through. This is getting frustrating and i think i need help with it. I would be much too embarassed to ask my gf to do this and i dont think she would anyway. I have a male friend i trust to do it. But what do you think? Is letting my male friend touch my penis and balls area to pierce it, i mean that's not gay or anything right? Even if i think it might be pleasant? I am so confused here.

Re:fattening the cow (-1, Offtopic)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44828997)

Is it gay when your male doctor gives you a butt exam? Perhaps only if you enjoy the process rather than the outcome?

You report - you decide.

Re:fattening the cow (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44829007)

Is it gay when your male doctor gives you a butt exam? Perhaps only if you enjoy the process rather than the outcome?

You report - you decide.

It could feel nice to have a man touch your penis beacuse it feels nice when anyone does that. It doesnt mean you are in love with that man or want to have full-on anal sex with him. It cant be gay just to enjoy incidental contact could it? I mean i got nothin against gays and all of that but i never thought of myself as one.

Darwin Award analogy? (2)

bickerdyke (670000) | about a year ago | (#44829315)

I can't decide if this is a stupid troll or some clever analogy to selling Royal mail. You know, something along the lines of "asking a bank to help hurting yourself by doing something really stupid"

Re:fattening the cow (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44829029)

- PO Telephones became British Telecom became British Telecom Plc. in the '80s.

And we now have a thriving competitive market for phone packages and internet packages at very affordable prices compared to American, Australia and numerous other countries. There aren't 'routes' when it comes to post, and if we want someone to be able to receive post when they live in the middle of nowhere then we either need to allow companies to charge them a fortune or we need to subsidise it in some way.

All the above has meant typical public-private partnership inefficiency, such that the price of sending letters has gone up recently way above the rate of inflation - with special increases in the last two years to reflect fattening of the cow for sale.

The cost to use the service has increased above inflation, which is why Royal Mail is finally profitable. That doesn't mean that the cost to tax payers overall has increased because the government funding of the post office has decreased considerably.

If you want to know what's idealogical it is the opposition to any privatisation on the grounds that private industry will automatically make things worse.

Re:fattening the cow (3, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44829091)

Compare your thriving market to you much closer neighbors. Way to cherry pick the worst possible folks to compare against.

Re:fattening the cow (5, Interesting)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44829291)

We have a thriving competitive market in telecoms? Oh, Sir, you crack me up. We have VIrgin Media, Sky and BT, and almost all your "competitors" are actually using re-sold BT services which only exist thanks to a stringent framework of regulation which nevertheless still operates in BT's favour ("regulatory capture"). Fuck, BT are even required to artificially separate the operations of their divisions - BT Openreach, BT Wholesale, and BT retail, so it isn't so obvious how they take advantage of their position as a natural monopoly.

The US is certainly worse - because it's an order of magnitude more spread out than the UK, and its privatisation was even less regulated (so, for example, BT are required to provide a certain level of service, which in a lot of cases e.g. remote Scotland is provided through government sponsorship).

RM had already been broken up into such inefficiency (as above) that it was necessary to drive up prices to make it profitable again. Even the NHS suffers this problem: all your greatly indebted Trusts were involved in New Labour's horrible public-private partnerships. The problem isn't the lack of private sector involvement: it's the existence of subcontracting to the private sector, where none before existed.

The belief that profit produces a better service per se is ideological. It sometimes does - e.g. when there is a free market - but not for essential services, especially not when they form natural monopolies.

Re:fattening the cow (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44830033)

Your grasp of the UK broadband market is so loose that I'm staggered.

I'm not even going to bother arguing the toss about it as it is wrong on so many levels.

I don't want to defend BT - they could do a LOT better in many areas. But to say that there is little competition in the telecom marketplace is so far wide of the mark that you've lost sight of the target.

Re:fattening the cow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44830305)

For 90% of the population who want home broadband there's BT and Virgin.

All the other ISPs piggy-back onto the BT infrastructure (Sky etc.)

The billing structure is also a nightmare with hidden or semi-hidden charges so its hard to tell exactly which 'service' is cheaper. Even the Post Office do their own broadband, yet is rarely cheaper than the alternatives.

Plusnet is a popular third provider - owned by BT...

Re:fattening the cow (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44830247)

Indeed. The theory runs like this:
Sell off the services and the private sector will run them more efficiently, so the taxpayers pay less - win, win!

The reality:
Sell off services
Private sector creates 'efficiency' by binning workers & reducing conditions thus increasing the welfare bill (externalities and all that)
Private company makes a ton of money
CEO makes millions
The top management make millions
Company requires lots of cash so now they can expand in foreign markets or bribe officials for other contracts
The shareholders need to be paid loads of cash, too

Result: worse services and once the top management/shareholders have been paid no saving to the taxpayer. But what happens is by then the company is so embedded that it'll cost a fortune to cancel their contracts so councils just keep paying and put the council tax up instead.

Also note BT have just spent around a billion quid to set up a football channel. Think about that - no money for customer service, a billion for tossers kicking a ball around and the assorted presenters & hangers on.

Re:fattening the cow (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44829615)

However, internet is fooked (though not as badly as the USA) because BT can charge per byte transferred to everyone, including its own company (thereby ensuring that it doesn't operate at a profit, ensuring a nice tax avoidance scheme!).

The reason why we have such a competitive phone market is because of the strength of customer protection. They can't fook us over that hard because they cannot force you to buy a phone with a contract and have the bare phone cost over market rate.

The cost to provide the postal service has reduced because of deflationary pressure on wages, reduced workforce, increased automation and the reduction in services. The cost of this massively reduced service has increased to help Royal Mail make the uncomercial routes that the private industry won't do (and are allowed to refuse) profitable.

Re:fattening the cow (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44830147)

'And we now have a thriving competitive market ' - said by someone who has clearly never used BT or Virgin & who has never looked at their broadband bill.

'If you want to know what's idealogical it is the opposition to any privatisation on the grounds that private industry will automatically make things worse.'

BT - one of the worse companies in Western Europe
British Gas - pretty bad
The railways - overpriced and hated worse than British Rail
Council services - dreadful & still council tax shoots up
Electricity - owned by foreigners, terrible service, high bills
Water - huge bills, useless companies, also mainly owned by foreign multinationals
The scumbags who do government medical exams to deny people welfare - utter vermin
G4 and their various government contracts - hahahahahaha

Not a very good record really. Am sure there are many others I haven't listed.

Re:fattening the cow (1, Interesting)

Threni (635302) | about a year ago | (#44829135)

>the RM has already been broken up and sold off in stages, each made worse:
> PO Telephones became British Telecom became British Telecom Plc. in the '80s.

No. BT were a joke. I'm using a competitor. Cheaper and better.

Royal Mail are useless. I emailed Amazon begging them to use other people to deliver, not Royal Mail. This happened:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6768983.stm [bbc.co.uk]

They lied about posting stuff which didn't turn up; cards appeared at my door saying `you were out` when I was not out etc.

They expect overtime when they finish their shift early (they're paid by the hour).

Get rid of them, and introduce competition. I don't need the mail much, but when I do, I want it to turn up on time, not end up lost (stolen, let's be honest)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-188892/Quarter-million-letters-lost-week.html [dailymail.co.uk]

Re:fattening the cow (5, Informative)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44829219)

Oh fuck I don't even know where to begin with the kind of egocentricity which comes down to "one time one service didn't deliver for me therefore DESTROY IT ALL because the alternatives will surely be better".

Followed by a link to a Daily Mail article, which is as a reliable as a link to a BNP article.

Have you actually tried to contract with a truly privatised, subdivided, "free market" style delivery service, like Yodel? They are so fucking awful it's an insult that they're even permitted to operate.

Re:fattening the cow (3, Interesting)

Xest (935314) | about a year ago | (#44830059)

I think it depends where you live. Personally I prefer Yodel over Royal Mail and it wasn't so long ago I was a big fan of Royal Mail.

Only 2 years ago Royal Mail used to deliver me 1st class mail next day all the time, courier deliveries similarly were always next day and if I missed an RM courier delivery it'd be at my local post office just 2 minutes round the corner. All was good in the world.

Then shit started going downhill. Over the last 18 months I've had "guaranteed" next day deliveries take 5 days only to turn up when I was at work and be taken not to my local post office 2 minutes away but all the way to a depot a 30minute drive away that only opens past lunchtime (when I'm at work) once a week for me to pick up. I could wait another few days and have it brought to my local post office if I pay more even though it was their failure to achieve their "guaranteed" delivery. 1st class mail now consistently takes 2 - 3 days and I've had some mail delayed for 3 weeks because they decided it was oversized and I have to pay them £1 more even though none of it was actually oversized and formal complaints about this went completely unacknowledged and ignored. They never attempt next day re-delivery anymore and mail always without fail every single day now comes through the door folded, sometimes almost completely destroyed.

This isn't a one off incident like you're talking about with the GP, this is sustained consistent decline in service over the last 18 months - 2 years and it's simply an unacceptably low quality of service. In the meantime what do I see the CWU folks doing? Campaigning about laws regarding dogs and so forth - perhaps if they really gave a shit about their future they'd focus on making sure their staff could do their jobs properly whether that's because they've been under-resourced in the last 18 months or because company policy changes have caused the decline in service. They can't now bitch and moan expecting public support when they've spent the last months giving that very public an abysmal level of service. It's a two way street.

Compare and contrast to Yodel and well, Yodel always deliver when they say they will, if I'm out they leave my parcel in a safe place or with the neighbour so I don't have to spend my own time and money collecting it (i.e. defying the point of a fucking delivery service) and I'll simply not ever forget the time where they delivered to me on foot in the middle of a -16c snowstorm because their van got stuck a mile out when Royal Mail hadn't even been seen for over a week.

As I say, I suspect these sorts of things are very regional but for me, I'm actually pleased to see something is going to be delivered by Yodel because I know it's actually going to end up at my house when I expect it to end up at my house, whereas if I see RM well, it could end up at some arbitrary location within a radius of about 30 miles for me to collect at some arbitrary point in the future but that's about all I can now expect.

I wont pretend that I think privatisation is magically going to fix anything but you'll have to excuse me if right now I have very little sympathy for the workers, nor do I suspect things can get any worse given that they're already much worse than the service private delivery firms currently give me despite having had more money than a lot of them and a last mile monopoly.

I'm not even some kind of right wing idealist, I'd love nothing more to have Royal Mail back giving me the quality of service it did 5, even 3 years ago but I don't have faith in that happening because the CWU are as much part of the problem as the right wing zealots who want to privatise are. Maybe if they'd spent more time making sure they had the public on side by doing a good job and less time lobbying heavily against dog owners or whatever they wouldn't find themselves in this situation to start with.

I agree Tory privatisation doesn't exactly have a very good track record, but as I say, at this point I could really care less, as the service really can't get much worse where I live so it really makes no odds to people like me.

Re:fattening the cow (2)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year ago | (#44829225)

They lied about posting stuff which didn't turn up; cards appeared at my door saying `you were out` when I was not out etc.

FEDEX does that too.

You know their promise about how if it's one second late they refund the money? What really happens is that a message appears on their computer that "they called but you were out" then they give you the runaround on the phone until you get tired of calling them.

Re:fattening the cow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44829515)

UPS was doing that to me frequently -- packages would be reported as "recipient wasn't there to sign for it" even though I was home all day and the truck just never showed up.

I eventually met a lower-level UPS employee (friend of a friend at a social thing) and asked him what the deal was. He said that UPS deliberately loads up the drivers' trucks with more packages than they can possibly deliver in one shift. Any that come back with the truck get marked as "recipient wasn't home" as a matter of policy.

Re:fattening the cow (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about a year ago | (#44829889)

FedEx is a company that I will avoid at all costs. I lost about half a day chasing them because they'd reported me to a debt collecting agency over an unpaid delivery. There were only two problems with this: paying for the delivery was not my liability (I hadn't signed anything) and they actually were paid by the people who were supposed to pay (who had a corporate account and a FedEx account number that deliveries could just be charged against). FedEx admitted this to me after the first time they wrote to me telling me that there was an unpaid debt, and issued me with a credit note for it. Unfortunately, they somehow managed to get the delivery entered into their accounting system twice and so they closed one as paid and then sent the other to a legal firm.

Re:fattening the cow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44830163)

It's not even just that. Where I live they invariably report a delivery exception then come up and try to deliver it so that the exception at least is within the delivery hours. If I'm in they cancel the exception.

Re:fattening the cow (3, Insightful)

robthebloke (1308483) | about a year ago | (#44829335)

Using a daily mail article to back up your argument, is no better than using the bible to prove the age of the universe.

FWIW, Have you tried city-link recently? They don't even leave cards when they fail to arrive for 3 days running, and then they expect you to drive 15miles to their nearest office. Great for those who have a car, but for me, walking a few hundred meters to the local post office is far more convenient than a £50 taxi trip.

Re:fattening the cow (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44829353)

Competition? What competition? Like the competition you don't have with the privatized / public rail services in this country, with fare increases how much above inflation! Or the utilities that refuse to give figures to Ofgem because shh! it's a secret.

As far as I know nothing has ever been de-bundled form BT, so apart form cable service and a few expensive alternatives you are probably STILL runing over BT infrastructure.

And when the gov has sold everything in the cupboard what are they going to do? I mean what will their job be? Spying even more on you, starting even more wars? I suggest governments have a job to do and the ain't doing it.

Re:fattening the cow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44829917)

BT were a joke. I'm using a competitor. Cheaper and better.

That's strange. When I moved house I had Virgin provide the POTs and internet (Cable) service. Their POTs service was so fucking useless I terminated the contract after a month because of their inability to deliver a working telephone line, and went with BT instead who I've been more than happy with ever since.

Oh and now the Virgin internet service has become so fucking awful I'm seriously considering dumping them after nearly 20 years and going to BT Infinity, which is now available in my area.

So the plural of "anecdote" still isn't "data".

They lied about posting stuff which didn't turn up; cards appeared at my door saying `you were out` when I was not out etc.

I can't think of a single delivery company that hasn't fucked up in some way; Yodel had a habit of leaving stuff just lying around in my garden. I once discovered a parcel next to my back door, which had been there for a day or two, because the lazy bastard hadn't even bothered to put a card through the door to let me know it was there.

City Link have damaged stuff in transit to me on multiple occasions.

UPS and FedEx will happily fail to deliver your parcel and then drive it 30 miles away to your "nearest" processing centre for you to come collect, and they don't re-deliver for free (unlike RM, who do).

So really, the point I'm trying to make is an important one: fuck you and your ideological bullshit.

Re:fattening the cow (1)

sjwest (948274) | about a year ago | (#44829699)

I wont defend that some sell off's have issues as to value for money for the state. But British Telecom is a lot better than it used to be, there used to be waiting lists for telephones, when answer phones where bleeding edge. I do not rate BT as a good firm but at least with competitive framework the industry seems to be ok and a lot better now.

Governments can suck too

Re:fattening the cow (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44829923)

That's explained by the 35 years of technological progress which BT could take advantage of.

And I've seen multiple people have to wait multiple months for a BT install in the last 5 years - or even to fix damage to the pole outside their house.

Re:fattening the cow (2)

RogueyWon (735973) | about a year ago | (#44829847)

Getting a telephone connected in the UK in the days of nationalisation took weeks. At best. When I moved into my new place last year, Virgin Media had somebody around to switch on the phone and broadband the day after I moved in. They could have been there on the day itself, but I pushed them back a day because I knew I'd be too busy with boxes and furniture.

Privatisation and the introduction of competition was the best thing to happen to telecommunications in the UK. BT - as in the privatised successor company to the old nationalised monopoly - took quite a long time to improve, mainly because it was stuck with most of the old staff and management from the nationalisation days. But even BT is much improved these days.

The postal service has a simple problem. An ideological (to use your word) commitment to a universal service with universal fees. Which means that to send a first-class letter to an urban address 2 minutes walk from the sorting center costs as much as sending that same letter to a remote hamlet an hour's drive from civilisation. That means that most users of the service end up paying way above what they otherwise would to subsidise a small minority who choose to live in the middle of nowhere. If privatisation ends that, then fantastic.

Oh, and they could also do with sorting out the "don't give a shit" attitude of most of the staff (with a few exceptions). That's another consistent feature of UK nationalised industries and if experiences elsewhere are anything to go by, it will be a good few years after privatisation that it finally dies out.

Oh, I do hope they deliver it by magic (0)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about a year ago | (#44828917)

Contracted with Hogwarts they have!

That's wonderful! (4, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | about a year ago | (#44828919)

I wonder how much of that money generated by the government, which it doesn't need, as it's obviously not spending more than it gets from taxes, will be distributed to each citizen.

I'm sure a simple division of the three billion dollars among the population would work, but maybe they come up with a distribution strategy that gives more to those who have less.

Re:That's wonderful! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44828989)

I wonder how much of that money generated by the government, which it doesn't need, as it's obviously not spending more than it gets from taxes

Could they teach the Yanks how to do that?

but maybe they come up with a distribution strategy that gives more to those who have less.

Most poor people got that way by having children they cannot afford. You really want to do some good put the money toward free sterilization surgery.

Re:That's wonderful! (0)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44829009)

So poor people get that way by having children they cannot afford...

So not-poor people are not-poor because they can afford their children...?

These graphs have cycles. This is making about as much sense as a mid-C20 eugenics programme.

Re:That's wonderful! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44829243)

So not-poor people are not-poor because they can afford their children...?

What the hell kind of logic is that? The logical way of reading this is that if you are a) cash poor and b) have children, you will be c) much more cash poor. Very simple, not unlike you.

Re:That's wonderful! (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44829355)

My goodness, you're dull.

The argument was that people got poor by having children they could not afford, yes?

This means some people are too poor to reproduce, whereas others are not.

Fixing your misguided sense of causality, now?

Re:That's wonderful! (1)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about a year ago | (#44829517)

The argument was that people got poor by having children they could not afford, yes?

No, the argument is that poor people got that way by being worthless wankers who can't hold down a job, drink too fucking much, can't stay out of jail or in school, and generally can't get their fucking shit together. The fact that said wankers shouldn't be having kids and thus producing another generation of worthless wankers, is merely the given that the GP is pointing out.

Re:That's wonderful! (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44829575)

No, that's your re-interpretation. It's not what OP said at all.

Nice to see that fascism's alive and well in Britain, though. Would you gas them? I'm from an aristocratic family, and I guess that makes me yet better than you - so I get to gas you in turn, OK?

Re:That's wonderful! (1)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about a year ago | (#44829905)

Would you gas them?

No, but I wouldn't give them money to sit on their lazy asses in the pub all day either.

Re:That's wonderful! (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44829973)

Eh, leaving someone to die is as good as killing them.

But please stop reading Daily Mail propaganda. You have no idea what you're talking about, but I worry that you sincerely believe what you say.

Re:That's wonderful! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44829961)

If youre from an aristocratic family, thats means youre inbred. You are descended from those who couldnt cook or even clean for themselves, let alone till their own fields. That makes you inferior.

Re:That's wonderful! (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44829991)

And yet could somehow get everyone else to do as they're told. So inferior!

Re:That's wonderful! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44829013)

Why do that when you can spend the money on something useful like bombs and missiles.

Re:That's wonderful! (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#44830141)

The government is spending more than it gets from taxes, has been for years.

About as well as any other UK privitisation (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44828931)

Things will likely go the same as with every other UK public service that has been privitized: The service will get worse, costs for consumers and end-users will go up, fewer workers will be paid less, but some 'top executives' will be brought in to 'clean things up' and make a mint.

Re:About as well as any other UK privitisation (4, Insightful)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44828965)

Bingo. Every single UK privatisation since 1979 has been ideological (where the ideology is "I take your stuff and get rich from it"), and not one has improved as a result.

You would think that the private sector could manage to do at least one thing better than the British government, wouldn't you?

Re:About as well as any other UK privitisation (2)

captbob2002 (411323) | about a year ago | (#44828995)

You'd think the British people would have noticed by now.

Re:About as well as any other UK privitisation (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44829043)

There's a Britain's Got Talent re-run on in 10 minutes bruv - stick the kettle on!

Re:About as well as any other UK privitisation (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44829289)

Britain's Got Talent

*snicker*

Re:About as well as any other UK privitisation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44829061)

We have. But not enough people give a shit about anything other than their next iPhone to do anything about it!

Re:About as well as any other UK privitisation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44829085)

Yes because the choice between the, Conservatives lite sorry, New Labour and the Conservatives was so huge....

Re:About as well as any other UK privitisation (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44829107)

We have, there's just no alternative (that stands a chance of being nationally elected.) Post-Blair Labour are every bit as enthusiastic about privatising everything because the wonderful magic of PFI [opendemocracy.net] allows them to keep costs off the books as "technically" not being government debt, at the mere cost of the project being a disaster that costs twice as much to deliver a worse service every single time.

Re:About as well as any other UK privitisation (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#44829331)

You'd think the British people would have noticed by now.

St. Thatcher demands sacrifice and promises her faithful that the pain means it's working.

Re:About as well as any other UK privitisation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44830057)

Thatcher said she would never privatise the post office.

Re:About as well as any other UK privitisation (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#44830467)

Thatcher said she would never privatise the post office.

And Reagan would be derisively referred to as a 'RHINO' if he were to attempt to gain office as a republican today... The acolytes tend to...get out of hand... in their veneration after the venerated has been dead or nonfuctional for a while.

Re:About as well as any other UK privitisation (2)

BemoanAndMoan (1008829) | about a year ago | (#44829451)

You'd think the British people would have noticed by now.

Been living here two years and trust me, they have.

Everybody here want's everything re-privatized. Power, gas, the trains, etc. The lies that the politicians told during the money grab (better cheaper service through competition) have of course not panned out. Competition is a farce, there is monopoly and scarcity of choice everywhere, unabashed price fixing and price increases that far outpace infrastructure costs and inflation (i.e. solely to increase profit), all in the absence of regulation and built on the backs of trillions of dollars of a tax-derived infrastructure.

All I see and hear is whining and whinging, though. No reason for the greed to stop, in absence of any real will to stop them.

Re:About as well as any other UK privitisation (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#44830183)

Yeah but anyone with £750 to spare can buy shares and make some short term profit, which overrides all other considerations.

The real fun will begin when they stop universal service.

Re:About as well as any other UK privitisation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44829119)

yes.
Lets bring back the state owned industries & all pay 10% more tax to support the failure.
British Leyland - has declared a net 1974-75 loss of £123.5m.
British Shipbuilding - 1978: SALES = £548m LOSSES = 108m.
British Steel - Between 1979 and 1985 losses totalled 2.5bn.
I could go on but you get the point.

Royal mail is not much different from all other state controlled monopolies , expensive. Like all mature state run entities, in theory it's fine, in practice once human nature is taken into account, it's primary purpose becomes supporting it's members rather than providing quality customer service and products.

Re:About as well as any other UK privitisation (3, Insightful)

robthebloke (1308483) | about a year ago | (#44829381)

Well how about that great value train service we now have? For the cheap price of £182, you can have a return fare between bournemouth and birmingham (which I was recently forced to pay) The flights to Belfast and back only cost £35 FFS!

Re:About as well as any other UK privitisation (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44829427)

Were you paying any attention at all to the state of the world economy in the mid-late '70s?

What the fuck do you think happens to heavy industry during an oil crisis?

Those losses had nothing to do with government ownership, and everything to do with our stupid decision to ride with America into the Middle East and piss everyone off.

Do we blame "the private sector" as one big label for all the losses it's suffered in the last few years? No, we focus specifically on the causes: banking irresponsibility; plus over-emphasis on short-termism, esp. a dream of unrestricted growth. This is why you have e.g. the once glorious state-backed Telefonica shedding like a sheep with scabies to get out of its €billions of debt.

Re:About as well as any other UK privitisation (1, Insightful)

N1AK (864906) | about a year ago | (#44829145)

Rolls Royce, BP, British Sugar, London Luton and East Midlands airports, ADAS are examples of ones I have used or work with that benefited considerably from the government getting out of the way.

I'm fed up of people re-imagining the national bodies as though they were popular and effective before privatisation. Far too many people note that the cost of using the service is high and assume that is private companies gouging them when they are completely ignoring the fact that we were simply pouring huge amounts of money into them as taxpayers, via government funding, before.

Re:About as well as any other UK privitisation (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44829269)

"Rolls Royce, BP, British Sugar, London Luton and East Midlands airports, ADAS"
All localised companies and not nationwide (monopolistic) services that everyone has to use, why they should ever be state controlled eludes me.

"British Railways"
A nation-wide (monopolistic) service -- railways aren't (and can't really) be run according to market principles, why should anyone be allowed to profit from this?
No idea what it used to be like, but the current railways are beyond a joke. Just go anywhere into central europe and you'll notice a world of difference.

Similarly the Royal Mail will always have a monopoly over nationwide mail delivery, although that is something that is likely to decrease as more and more of the population switch to having all documents/bills etc. via electronic means (in the timescale of 50-100 years maybe).

Re:About as well as any other UK privitisation (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44829347)

Even if this were true, which I'd contest, by privatization you get to pay twice.

Taxes will not be lower as a result of privatization. Now you could argue that this is a problem with the government and not the concept of privatization and I'd agree but the problem is still there.

Then there is the moral failure of a government who is capable of saying "Here, you paid for all this infrastructure... now let's give it to some other people and allow you to re-buy a share of it"

Re:About as well as any other UK privitisation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44829411)

hmm none of those are essential industries are they? So you are correct privatizing those, well who cares. Core utilities different story mate.

Me I'm getting feed up with people who can't see the difference between essential and non-essential.

Re:About as well as any other UK privitisation (4, Insightful)

3.5 stripes (578410) | about a year ago | (#44829577)

Let me start off my reply by restraining my natural urge to tell you to stick your privatization trumpet up your ass sideways.

Then explain to me how Train prices continue to rise, while we are "still pouring huge amounts of money into them as taxpayers" ?

If privatization meant an end to subsidies, and an end to monopolies, and an end to price gouging and fixing.. sure.

None of it has. We just give the profits to private entities.

Re:About as well as any other UK privitisation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44829189)

BT and British Gas make billions in profit every month, and they don't hide behind shell companies spread all around the world to hide it. The are the ones that build the infrastructure across the nation, which is leased to their competitors at cost. Sure, their customer service levels can be improved, but they're hardly disasters as you imply, especially when you consider the nationwide monopoly they used to enjoy when they were controlled by Whitehall. So give it a rest with the bullshit rhetoric, you sound like you weren't even born when these companies weren't private entities.

British Rail is the singular failure to improve as much as needed, but the rail system was an utter disaster before the sell-off. The problem with the rail network goes back to before it was even a govt body, the original private companies couldn't get it right, the govt forcible took ownership and failed, then the private companies only worked on profitable lines. But by the time they took control, the masses were driving to work. Parking fees at stations, coupled with high ticket prices, pushed us commuters behind the wheel unless we're going in to central London. The only way rail will become good is by massive govt subsidy every year as in German, Japan, et al. But seeing as the country moans about trivial expenditure, there's no way BR will ever get tax payers money to become a great service bringing people back from their cars.

Re:About as well as any other UK privitisation (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44829547)

Of course BT and BG make billions in profit! they already own all the infrastructure, but get to keep almost all of the profit, and they're in bed with their regulators.

"leased to their competitors at cost" - the fuck? They do no such thing. I know more about telecoms than gas, particularly in 2005-10, and the pricing e.g. of BT Centrals had been kept absurdly artificially high, which is why you had such high contention ratios on ADSL. To put it bluntly: BT Openreach make a profit, even on paper - and that's ignoring the various other ways any private company's accountants make something look as if it's more expensive than it really is. Perhaps you meant to say that pricing is regulated - very true, but only in the most ironic sense.

Re:About as well as any other UK privitisation (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#44829301)

"You would think that the private sector could manage to do at least one thing better than the British government, wouldn't you?"

Apparently, they are a great deal better at recognizing which side the bread is buttered on in the 'privatization' deals than the British government, Does that count?

Re:About as well as any other UK privitisation (1)

cardpuncher (713057) | about a year ago | (#44829569)

If you really believe that the service provided by BT (and the cost to the end user of that service) is as bad or worse as that provided by the GPO (rationing of connections, waiting lists of months or years for installations, widespread "party" lines, the need to rent one of a small number of approved telephone handsets, botched, costly exchange equipment development in cosy arrangements with uncompetitive UK suppliers and daytime call charges beyond the reach even of those people who could afford phone lines), then it's your ideology (or perhaps your rose-tinted memory) that needs readjusting. A more interesting question is why companies in which the French and German Governments have a significant stake (eg EDF, Orange and DB Regio) are apparently more successful at operating utilities in the UK than the UK government has been.

Re:About as well as any other UK privitisation (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44829851)

OK, so you're ignoring 35 years of technological progress and blaming higher costs of telecoms equipment in the late '70s on government ownership. Superb.

And if you've never had to wait multiple months for a working BT connection in the UK then perhaps you've never moved outside of London. Meanwhile, many Internet services require you to rent their equipment, so the theme there remains (can you think of why it's sometimes a good idea to demand only approved equipment at the consumer end?) - perhaps in thirty years time POTS/cable/fibre modems will be so commoditised that no ISP ever cares, but clearly it has nothing to do with e.g. whether Sky is privately owned.

EDF retail's billing systems are a complete fucking joke. They'd adjust my direct debit based on when in the month I gave them an estimated reading, rather than behaving as if DD payments were spread throughout the month. After a couple of months I worked out when to supply them to ensure they stopped trying to get me supplying them with interest-free credit. Absolutely pathetic.

Re:About as well as any other UK privitisation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44830423)

For a laugh, some reviews of our two foremost ISPs...

http://www.trustpilot.co.uk/review/bt.com

http://www.trustpilot.co.uk/review/www.virginmedia.com

Ok, as for comparing BT to the GPO, you're comparing the telecom service now (30 years of digital tech) to the 70s (digital still in the labs, worldwide economic turmoil thrown in). This is a little like saying 'Look at Apple today - a computer 100x more powerful than an Apple II - in a phone! Remember how shit the Apple II was and you had to get a bank loan to afford one'...

Re:About as well as any other UK privitisation (4, Insightful)

Bacon Bits (926911) | about a year ago | (#44829947)

You would think that the private sector could manage to do at least one thing better than the British government, wouldn't you?

The private sector only does better under the pressures of fair competition. Otherwise they're more of a leech than the public sector is.

British Telecom? (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about a year ago | (#44830037)

Every single UK privatisation since 1979 has been ideological...and not one has improved as a result.

I would generally agree with that statement with one exception: telephones. Privatising BT was a huge leap forward and massively modernized the system as well as lowering costs...but only because there was real competition. The rest have been a complete waste of time and money.

Re:British Telecom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44830601)

Or more likely that new technology which the UK taxpayer paid for was brought online thus lowering costs considerably.

Remember in the mid 80s there was almost no competition for BT and yet its service was much better than now.

Re:About as well as any other UK privitisation (1)

Alomex (148003) | about a year ago | (#44830399)

Every single UK privatisation since 1979 has been ideological (where the ideology is "I take your stuff and get rich from it"), and not one has improved as a result.

Actually, to be fair there is one exception: council housing.

But yes, otherwise we agree: all other privatized services were ideologically driven and a failure, including most recently rail service.

Re:About as well as any other UK privitisation (1)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | about a year ago | (#44829195)

Things will likely go the same as with every other UK public service that has been privitized: The service will get worse, costs for consumers and end-users will go up, fewer workers will be paid less, but some 'top executives' will be brought in to 'clean things up' and make a mint.

Privatisation will bring much needed investment to allow Royal Mail to transition away from boring letters and stuff. By scaling back deliveries, they'll use the cost savings to open a chain of fucking gastro-pubs. You remember the "Consignia" debacle? A great example of why so many management consultants need to die.

Good idea. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44828945)

You should move all your labour contracts to Bangladesh while you are at it.

It will save you a lot of money.

A natural monopoly is better than private company (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44829055)

This plan is corruption at its most horrible. Activate the usual propaganda merchants to persuade everybody the government has a good plan for how to improve a public monopoly service, sell off the public asset to private entities, let politicians earn massive fees (bribes!!), increase prices charged to the public, cut costs thus boosting profits but decreasing the quality of service to the public, publish tons of fake statistics proving how much better it all is now, etc. We've seen all this nonsense before. The train services in Britain are outrageously expensive (compared to cars, planes, and buses), often late, usually dirty, with an aggressive security force with police powers of arrest. Thirty years ago, the public monopoly train service in Britain, called British Rail, offered a much cheaper, and more reliable train service to the public. Prices of many ordinary train tickets bought at the counter or automated ticket machines for journeys at peak times were less than 20% in real terms of the current equivalent ticket prices charged by the private companies who now greedily charge whatever they like. There is no free market. For most journeys, you simply cannot choose which train company to use. Similarly at whatever level of granularity they choose to convert it into private companies, the home-delivery portion of a postal service is a natural monopoly, especially in the more isolated, rural locations. During the last five or so years the public postal service in Britain has been the victim of a disgraceful government push to deliberately degrade the quality of the service, e.g. by encouraging a 50% increase in postal loss rates, so that when private companies take over, they can easily demonstrate an improvement. Etc etc

Re:A natural monopoly is better than private compa (0, Offtopic)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44829087)

Everything you say is true, but you need to rewrite it in paragraphs. It's annoying how some sensible arguments end up looking kooky merely because they're badly formatted.

(Meanwhile, the worst kooks can be populist and eloquent, and end up leading powerful nations.)

Oh this will end well... (1)

MrChom (609572) | about a year ago | (#44829115)

...I mean it's not like we've already seen privatisations of Gas, Water, Steel, Coal, Telecoms, and Rail go down the tubes is it. And it's not like in some of those we're subsidising the PRIVATISED industry while they give bonuses to bosses. And it is absolutely not the case that a regulator has ever had to step in against any of those industries to stop them doing amoral or ridiculous things...

Re: Oh this will end well... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44829277)

privatization is short hand for fucking over poor people and raising costs for everyone. anytime the issue comes up I ask supporters to name a single privatization where costs went down and service went up. there's never a reply.

Re:Oh this will end well... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44829383)

The Conservatives are like a junky relative who comes round to your hosue, steals all your stuff and sells it to his mates down the pub for the price of a quick fix.

Only good if they ACTUALlY privatize it. (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about a year ago | (#44829213)

US postal service was "sorta" privatized but it isn't really. And it causes issues. For example, the postal service needs to ask congress permission to raise the cost of stamps. That's silly. If they're a business then they should be able to follow that where they will. Including bankruptcy.

If you're not willing to let the organziation die if it fails then it can't be privatized.

Re:Only good if they ACTUALlY privatize it. (1)

Quila (201335) | about a year ago | (#44829441)

Bankruptcy isn't an option without far-reaching consequences. Many legal processes require the use of the USPS, and it would all have to be changed.

Re:Only good if they ACTUALlY privatize it. (2)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44829603)

tl;dr the mail is an essential service and natural monopoly which shouldn't ever be privatised.

USPS setup for failure (5, Informative)

Frankie70 (803801) | about a year ago | (#44829551)

In 2006, the US Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act", which mandated $5.5 billion per year to be paid into an account to pre-fund retiree health-care, 75 years into the future.

Since none of USPS's competitors (Fedex, UPS etc) are required to do this, USPS has essentially been setup to fail & then be privatized.

Re:USPS setup for failure (-1, Flamebait)

will_die (586523) | about a year ago | (#44829731)

Please stop repeating this lie, granted it is repeated enough on alot of hate sites. For you it was probably a mistake since you did not know the truth.
Congress want to protect the taxpayer from having to take over the duties that the USPS said they would do, the postmaster general and the postal unions want to make the taxpayers pay for thier poor management and keep things as they are.
The postal accountability law requires the USPS to actually do some proper financial management and dropping it would not make them competative again; even ignore the money they owe for this they would of lost money for the last couple of years. Without the money set aside they would not be able the meet the obligations they agreeed to back in the 1970s and the people who retiring now would not have the monies that they are suppose to get.
Privatization would solve nothing of this since the obligations would follow the person who purchased the company.
BTW the 75 years is number of years that for ACCOUNTING purposes they have to figure future liabilities. It is NOT how long they have to fund benefits. That 75 years of accounting is followed by the DoD, social security, department of Housing, etc.

Re:USPS setup for failure (1)

tlambert (566799) | about a year ago | (#44829815)

In 2006, the US Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act", which mandated $5.5 billion per year to be paid into an account to pre-fund retiree health-care, 75 years into the future.

Since none of USPS's competitors (Fedex, UPS etc) are required to do this, USPS has essentially been setup to fail & then be privatized.

That would be this benefits plan?

"MHBP, previously known as Mail Handlers Benefit Plan, offers an outstanding selection of PPO federal health plans that are available to all federal and postal employees and annuitants" http://www.mhbp.com/benefit-plans/index.htm [mhbp.com]

Maybe it's because they are funding for the entire federal government?

The Owls... (1)

craznar (710808) | about a year ago | (#44829329)

Will anyone think of the owls.

Royal Mail (1)

Racerdude (1006357) | about a year ago | (#44829345)

If private, would it then still be 'Royal'?

Re:Royal Mail (1)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | about a year ago | (#44829671)

They'll probably change the name; Royal Mail sounds so terribly stuffy. Granted it has almost universal brand recognition in the UK, and is pretty well regarded by the public, but what does that matter to us consultants? Tear it down and build a new sexy Royal Mail. We'll draw venn diagrams for three days, play a few team building exercises, and will come out with a new name. Chlamydia is a pretty cool name for the business - I think it was one of the characters in 300. Can we get more flip charts and crayons in here, please?

The beaten spouse says, "It's different this time" (4, Insightful)

ReallyEvilCanine (991886) | about a year ago | (#44829439)

Because privatisation has worked so well in other countries, as it has in other sectors in Britain.

Follow the money: from whence comes cash the proponents of this collect? If only I'd been in on a stake in "Railtrack", the company which got to own the tracks the broken-up British Rail trains would run on with no requirement to actually maintain them.

Re:The beaten spouse says, "It's different this ti (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about a year ago | (#44830023)

Aside from a number of loudly touted exceptions, privatization works very well. It's only when the government and other organizations have greedy fingers embedded deep in the service being privatized that it causes issues.

stupid (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year ago | (#44829479)

If that happens, it'll be cheaper to drive a letter to a location yourself. I don't think there's quite as much competition for mail service over there as there is in the US.

Maybe this is on purpose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44829591)

It's a trap. The NSA can't as easily access and archive paper mail yet. This sounds like a reasonable plan to eventually get everyone on electronic messaging and transaction services. Physical articles can still be couriered.

How about a divestiture to all citizens instead? (1)

davidwr (791652) | about a year ago | (#44829641)

Give 1 share to every citizen with a "holding period" of at least one business day, then dutch auction off just enough additional shares in an IPO so the market can set a fair price.

Alternatively, do a dutch auction for the whole lot.

Private company delivering a Public good (4, Interesting)

ErichTheRed (39327) | about a year ago | (#44829679)

One of the things I've never understood about these privatization deals is that people think it will save taxpayers tons of money. The simple truth is that some public goods should be provided by non-profit or state-owned companies simply to maintain the level of service.

An example from the US is the Postal Service vs. FedEx, UPS, etc. The private delivery services have squeezed every single nickel out of the process of delivering packages, and one of the ways they do this is cherry-picking the easy services to perform. They also charge a lot of money for this service unless you're a big company with a better contracted rate. Anyone can get a package from New York to Atlanta overnight . It's very different when an organization has a mandate to provide affordable delivery of letters from anywhere to anywhere in the US for the cost of a stamp. I can mail a letter from Key West, Florida to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska for 46 cents - that doesn't even cover the fuel required. FedEx and UPS don't directly deliver to areas of the country where it's not cost-effective to do so. The Postal Service has a Constitutional mandate to do this, so it has to be inefficient by nature. Since I'm not a business, I usually use the USPS to ship stuff just because the walk-up rates are way cheaper than FedEx, and now they even offer cheaper rates if you pre-pay the postage online. The USPS is under pressure to keep these rates low, has a huge workforce to pay, and has a congressional mandate to prepay their retiree medical and pension costs

There's plenty of other examples. Electric and gas utilities have to provide service at a cheap enough rate so almost anyone can afford it. Amtrak in the US has to run very unprofitable long-distance rail service and subsidize it by using the money it makes from its Northeast and California rail services.

The other thing to consider is employment. Especially now, given the fact that suitable jobs for the majority of the population are going away with no replacement work on the horizon, we need to find something for people to do. A privatized postal service will lay off everyone but the bare minimum number of people to keep the lights on, and outsource all the business processes to cheaper countries in the name of cost savings. This is where my "lefty socialist" tendencies kick in - Do we really want a world where 5% of the population are fabulously wealthy, 15% are working in jobs like IT, engineering, and others, and 80% have nothing to do and no prospects? Remember, the seismic shifts in employment last time generated better jobs. Subsistence farming went to organized agriculture, then mechanization of that caused a shift to factory work, then outsourcing of that caused a shift to service and paper-pushing jobs, now outsourcing and obsolescence of that leads to.....hmm....there's nothing for Joe Average to do anymore and a well-protected aristocracy with no incentive to help. That's a recipe for French Revolution 2.0.

I know economic theory isn't on my side, but I think monopolies are more efficient at delivering some types of services than others -- not from a dollar perspective but from a service delivery perspective. It may be more expensive, but think back to how reliable AT&T phone service was back before they were broken up. It was expensive, but it almost never went down. Obviously this doesn't apply to all goods and services, but those that have to be universal and cheap are not good candidates for privatization IMO.

Re:Private company delivering a Public good (2)

_Ludwig (86077) | about a year ago | (#44830625)

Not everything should be part of the “free market.” Natural monopolies and essential services for example. What if someone complained that the fire department is “losing money?” He’d be rightly ridiculed. Duh, it’s not supposed to be a profit center, it’s something society has agreed to collectively spend money on. Yet people freely bitch about the Post Office and public schools* “losing money.”

*Public schools in the U.S. sense of the term, it’s backwards in the U.K.

The end (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44829697)

That would mean the end of good service and reasonable prices for their postal service. A bloody shame. As a regular customer of Royal Mail, I hope that never happens.

Stop sending letters my subjects! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44829777)

One's Government would like to read all of your electronic communications.

Goldman Sachs?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44830145)

Christ, do they have to have their tentacles wrapped around everything?

shit!p? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44830267)

Smith only serve reciprocating a nd, after initial and the Bazzar problems that I've encountered while you can. When the

Goldman Sachs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44830511)

Why the fuck would anyone hire those incompetent fucktards? They may be rich but they certainly aren't "good" in any sense of the word.

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