It's quite obvious that out there in that political world there are people who don't get even the basics of this idea of private property. Those who insist that shareholders cannot pay their managers what they wish for example, or that someone else must be prevented from utilising their own land in their own manner because, you know, the view or something.
But there are also those who miss some of the finer distinctions in this area:
Taxpayers saved the Royal Bank of Scotland. Now it’s time we owned it
That's interesting, not sure we agree, but it is interesting. Maybe the taxpayers should buy out the remaining private shareholders of this dog's dinner. And when put that way we definitely disagree with it. That isn't what is being suggested:
Together as taxpayers we saved the Royal Bank of Scotland – now we should each be allowed to own it. It should become a people’s bank, which every tax-paying British citizen would have the right to become a part-owner of.
Every taxpaying Briton is a part owner right now. For the government, which we fund with out taxes, owns some ungodly percentage of the shares in RBS.
More than £45bn of taxpayer funds have been injected into the Royal Bank of Scotland. This was the right thing to do, but neither keeping it as a state bank nor a fully privatised bank offer the same advantages as turning it into a mutual.
We can have private stock companies, public and even state. RBS is an odd little blend of those last two at present. A mutual is something different, it is owned by (usually at least, in the case of banks or building societies) the depositors. Who gain a slightly better rate of interest on their savings from the absence of that outside capital which would like to get paid a dividend or two.
So the demand here is that all of us taxpayers, who currently own however much it is of the bank, should make a free gift to the future depositors with RBS of £45 billion? Or at least whatever the current diminished value of that investment is?
You know, we really do think that's a deal we can reject. It might even be a good idea that RBS becomes a mutual - again, not that we think so ourselves. But we really are very certain indeed that if that is to happen it should happen with other peoples' money, not ours, us long suffering taxpayers.
We the heck should all of us gift such a thing to some subset of us?