Compass come up with the most wonderful ideas


Compass is that little gabfest that wants to pull Labour in a more lefty direction. Which is lovely of course, the more Corbyn-like it becomes the less anyone else ever has to worry about it winning an election ever again. But it also does have to be said that the folks at Compass aren't really all that au fait with reality. Which is rather part of their charm in fact:

Sales offer a one-off windfall – the family silver can only be sold once. They mean the permanent loss of collectively owned public assets, and the income that they deliver over time, both built up over many decades. Although such sales can reduce the cash debt at a given moment, they aggravate the problem of public indebtedness as the asset base which helps to balance the debt shrinks away. This is simple short-termism that will be paid for by subsequent generations.

Yet there is an alternative approach that would limit the long term impact of persistent privatisation. The sell-off of what remains of the family silver is set to continue, but at least the proceeds should not be passed lock, stock and barrel to the Treasury.

Instead of disappearing into the Treasury black hole, the proceeds from privatisation could instead be paid into a newly created Public Investment Fund, a collectively owned, social wealth fund. In this way, the benefits of historically accumulated public assets could be used to fund a range of public projects that benefit society as a whole, including investment in economic and social infrastructure. There would also be much greater transparency in the way the revenue is used.

Strangely, we find that we agree with them. Yes, instead of privatisation receipts being frittered away on whatever the government of the day think will buy it votes, why not have a fund that's all about investment? Which is where reality raises its ugly head. We've already got one of those, it's called the national debt. For that national debt is the accumulated balance of public "investment" in all these lovely things that are being sold off. And we're OK with the idea that the lovely profits that we're all making from selling off those public assets be reinvested in creating the next generation of them that can be sold off in the future.

But do note what profit means: it means that there will be an excess left in that national debt, that there will be a national surplus, after we've done our privatising. For it's only if that is true that we can say that those past public investments have been profitable. So, when Compass manage to identify those assets that can be sold off to pay off the entirety of that national debt, that national debt which is the result of all of those past public investments, we'll be right there with them calling for not only the sales but also of the proceeds of those sales to that special fund. And then, once they've shown that public investment is indeed profitable then we'll let them do some more, shall we?