That's our first reaction, at least, to this story that a Welsh billionaire is willing to invest some of his own money in a rescue of the Port Talbot steel assets. The giggle coming from, no, not the idea that there is a Welsh billionaire, the thought that, well, yes, that's what we rather expect from people when they buy something. They use their money to buy the thing that they're buying. Seems a reasonable and logical idea to us but it's obviously caught The Guardian by surprise:
Tata Steel: Welsh billionaire could plough own money into UK buyout
We think that "own money!" is really rather cute in fact.
Welsh billionaire Sir Terry Matthews has said he could be willing to put his own money behind a management buyout of Tata Steel’s UK business and the Port Talbot steelworks.
Matthews said he is “feeling really good” about the prospects of a rescue deal for the steel business, which could save thousands of jobs in the UK.
Matthews, who made his fortune in technology and telecoms, is part of a consortium of public and private sector figures from south Wales supporting a management buyout.
And that's where it all becomes a little less amusing. Because of course that's not really what is being said at all. Instead the argument is that if government (that's you and me and our pocketbooks as taxpayers) were to, say, pick up the pensions bill, the environmental costs, chip in a bit.....oooh, let's say 25% of the cost.....towards upgrading the facilities, then maybe private sector actors will chip in a little of their cash as well.
We can't help but suspect that the taxpayer money would have to be first in the queue to be spent while that private sector money would be the first to be paid out again.
We're not against government doing things for the public good: we just tend to argue about what that public good is and how to define it. And structuring business deals which look as if they're privatise the profits and socialise the losses just doesn't qualify as something good for the public to us. However surprised The Guardian gets at people being willing to spend their own money.