After the last few weeks of political news, my head is spinning.
Just so many idiocies, untrue statements, dogma triumphing over evidence, on and on.
I’m bursting with so many ideas for a blog post that I didn’t know where to start. And so I went back to my favourite coping strategy: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
So here’s the first bite.
Once upon a time, in a kingdom (queendom) long ago, a wicked witch dreamed up a super money-making (for her and her friends) scheme.
Privatisation. Sell public assets to private owners. Regulate loosely, if at all, and see what happens. For the water industry, shit happened.
Each regional water company had a monopoly, so consumers had only one ‘choice’ for their supplier.
Charges were regulated, but under pressure from the industry the price was set high enough to generate a large profit, more than adequate to provide a modest amount to senior executives and shareholders while still retaining enough money for the continuous processes of maintenance, modernisation and expansion.
Except they didn’t. Profits were delivered to senior executive and shareholder pockets alike, and our Victorian infrastructure was left with only essential works (i.e. following a major failure) undertaken.
It’s the year 2022, and water companies are still wheeling out the ‘Victorian Infrastructure’ excuse for their failings. My car isn’t a Victorian design. Nor is my refrigerator, my lamps, my anything, except my water infrastructure.
Why? Because all companies are designed to maximise profits for their shareholders.
In the absence of regulation and failure to charge fair value for the resources they extract and the damage they cause, they make more money by NOT maintaining or improving their infrastructure.
This is especially true over the very short timescales which are all their shareholders care about.
Water companies also make money according to the volume of water they sell, so there is no incentive for water conservation, pressure to change planning law to reduce waste, or any of the good things that the government should be forcing them to do. Southern Water talks the talk on this, but certainly doesn’t walk the walk.
Hence we have sewage in rivers and the sea because there is no incentive to do anything about it.
Wow, a whole page of rant, and I haven’t mentioned Mackinlay once.
Well he’s one of the many MPs who voted for the amendment to the Environment Bill which allows water companies until 2035 to keep discharging sewage into our waterways and seas.
He also supported the reduction of Environment Agency funding, crippling their ability to hold water companies to account. And he’s a rabid supporter of this lunatic race to tear up regulation to ‘unfetter business’ so that they can continue to make money by polluting our environment. Money which goes to offshore investors keeping their money in tax havens away from the UK, depriving the country of tax revenues and cash flowing through the economy.
The only thing that trickles down is shit, and it’s the likes of Mackinlay and his chums that are making all of us eat it (and, in our case, swim in it).