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Ownership not ‘Perfect Competition’

Paul Marks points out that there is no imposed structure can achieve what a real market can

Last Sunday there was a big storm in Britain, power was been cut off for a lot of people and some of these households are only now being reconnected.

There have been a lot of attacks on the power companies, but (as far as I know) no one in the media has pointed out that the present set up is not free enterprise at all – it is a government effort to create ‘perfect competition’.

Now ‘perfect competition’ is something that exists in neoclassical economics textbooks – here lots of similar companies (similar assets, similar knowledge, similar just-about-everything) compete in a sort of mathematical game.

In real life enterprises build things and own them. For example a railway is built, or a gas line, or a telephone line, or an electricity line.

Complexity may evolve (with different people owning the track and the trains on a railway, or there being ‘producers’ and ‘providers’ in electricity supply), but any attempt to impose a complex scheme is likely to turn out to be a mess.

In transport the natural competitors for a railway are roads, canals and airlines. The endlessly complicated spiders web of regulations in Britain (to make sure that different people owned the track and ran the trains and that the train operators only ran the trains for a certain period of time, and so on and so on), just caused a mess.

Against electricity the main competitors are gas and (to a much lesser extent) home generation (by solar cells, open coal fires or  whatever). Again complexity may evolve (with different companies producing the electricity and supplying it and, perhaps, even different suppliers offering to supply the same household), but any attempt to impose a complex scheme (via endless regulations and administrators) is bound to cause problems – and it has.

In the end what matters is not ‘perfect competition’ but ownership – having a company that owns assets and is responsible if it fails to provide the power that people have paid for.

Paul Marks

4 comments to Ownership not ‘Perfect Competition’

  • I think it is important to add one thing here. That is that ownership means something. It means control. It means freedom over the thing that is owned.

    The dubious achievement of railway privatisation was to strip the word of all its meaning. For instance, Railtrack could not choose how much it sold, at what price or to whom.

  • “Last year’s winner was Martin Creed who won with his creation of a bare room with a light that switches on and off.”

    Bullshit, indeed. Hah! This art is obviously beyond the understanding of you philistines. I hope that one day you can rise up to the intellectual level to be able to really see the lights turn on and off. But as of yet, you’ve failed to reconceptualize your patriarchal worldview into an anti-aesthetic understanding of a neo-Marxian critique of “rationality” and “existence.”

    By labeling the art as “bullshit,” the “culture minister” has tried to force his worldview on others, without realizing that he is just continuing the patriarchal tradition in which he was educated. His kind of oppressive “opinion” is fundamentally at odds with the new dialectic the artist is trying to create. By combining the conceptual elements of “text” and text, the artist has produced a powerful statement by avoiding judgment of any circumstances other than the conceptualization of his own art. Since the art is defined by the viewer, and the viewer is defined by experience, neither is really defined, so in a classical setting, the concepts of “viewer” and “art” are bound in a viscous circle, and hence have no meaning. This art has transcended “the viewer,” and in many ways become the viewer, thus solving the fundamental problem of art “what is the central motivating dialectic?” The answer: ” .”

  • Oops. The above bit of nonsense was intended for the “Shock Story: Politician Tells The Truth!” posting. Sorry.

  • Paul Marks

    I fully agree with what Mr Crozier says above.

    Paul Marks.