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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Put profits before people

Every single incident and accident on the UK rail network in recent years has prompted a torrent of bug-eyed wailing about the ‘disastrous effects of privatisation’ and the iniqiuties of those ‘greedy’ shareholders who insist on putting their squalid demands for profit ahead of safety concerns.

The answer (say the established media, the transport unions, the sundry activists, lawyers, Uncle Tom Cobley and all) is to take the network back into public control. Only when the ‘distorting’ private profit-motive has been eliminated, they say, will it be safe to travel by rail.

As safe as this?

Up to 3,000 people have been killed or injured in a huge explosion after two fuel trains collided in North Korea, reports say.

The blast happened at Ryongchon station, 50km north of Pyongyang, South Korea’s YTN television said.

Nationalisation kills! Privatisation now! Put profits before people!

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10 comments to Put profits before people

  • drscroogemcduck@hotmail.com

    But it was made from steal imported from capitalist China!

  • dg

    I saw this on a Northern California news station this morning (broadcast out of San Francisco). It drives me nuts that those “lefty” wackjobs out there still call Kim the President of N. Korea. Yeah, and I’m the fucking Grand Vizir of California.

    Anyhow I think this quote from a NY Times article properly sums up “public” transportation in N. Korea: Train wrecks with large numbers of fatalities are rare in North Korea, largely because trains creak slowly along rails that were first laid during the Japanese occupation, more than 60 years ago.

    Too bad Kim wasn’t on one of those trains.

  • toolkien

    This may be cold hearted, but profit is the key. If rail travel was assured death, no one would use it and the business would end. Profit merely makes sure that the service is done effeciently and effectively. One could not profit if death lurked around every bend. Accidents will occur regardless if it is privately or publicly run. One would have assert that an unmitigable amount of deaths are occuring due to the incrementing of revenues and expenses to an unexceptable level so as to create profits. If the deaths are marginal, then the market will surely dictate whether people are willing to risk their lives using the service. In the end the market will correct any situation that is massively out of line. Some believe that regulation and certification (on up to a socially provided service)actually do more harm in that it gives a person a false sense of security in the general safety of the product or service.

  • I am not an uncritical admirer of Ayn Rand, and especially not of her philosophy of “objectivism”, but one thing she did get very, very right, which is that the death of communism in a country is preceded by spectacular explosions and techno-catastrophes and, in particular, train wrecks. She wrote the book on this. It’s called Atlas Shrugged.

    You can bet that plenty of people saw this particular disaster coming, days and maybe even weeks or months before it happened. But the penalty for them raising the alarm in such circumstances had become so severe that doing that was just not worth it. Ergo, they shrugged. Ergo: crash.

    Communism in North Korea cannot, of course, die soon enough.

  • We heard the same in the US about the electricy black-outs in California. Except there was no privatisation. The producers priced electricy according to supply and demand. But the distributors’ pricing was capped. In other words, supply and demand could not work. So even though supply was tight and tightening, the average Californian still had his air conditioner running all day, lawn sprinklers and washing machines running at the same time everywhere etc. Had prices reflected supplies, consumption would have been reduced to match it.

    And that is actually the template for many so-called privatisations of public services. Privatisation is always partial and incomplete, to a point where some sort of failure is virtually guaranteed. But when it happens, the half-ass privatisation is never blamed. It’s the market that failed.

  • Placing transportation under public control just doesn’t work. They aren’t shooting for efficiency. The decisions become less economical, and sometimes things like safety are neglected in the process.

    Pennsylvania is a shining example of this. I can recall a project to replace the pavement on a local highway with cement to lower maintenance. Rather than considering the consequences first, they slapped the cement down, it cracked, and they proceeded to replace pavement on top of the cement. I can’t imagin a professional doing the same. In this case, an unsafe road was to blame for a fatal accident. Thanks to our Department of Transportation, a man was placed on trial for a death that was caused by an unsafe roadway, and he had no chance of proving that this was the case.

  • Shawn

    I just saw a news report claiming that the death toll could be as high as three thousand. I dont know how accurate the report is, but if so this is just another example of mass death communist style.

  • Ben

    I suspect trying to assess rival economic systems of public service management based on a totalitarian and impoverished North Korea with a senile lunatic as a premier is a futile exercise – but that’s clearly a minority view point here! Public ownership of UK rail would be better than private, but either would be better than the ludicrously expensive public-private mismash that we’ve got now where nobody is accountable. If we were going to go for a more privatized system, then the government would have to be prepared not to bail out useless companies when things go wrong, but to ditch them instead. I wonder if anyone would still take up the offer (especially given the Eurotunnel mess)?

  • BigFire

    Re: Shawn

    The death toll can be conceivably higher than 3000. The trains didn’t carry many passangers (it was a fuel transport), but where the crash occured, there are rows and rows of apartment buildings, all bunch together ala communist building philosophy.

  • Harry

    The wire service item reported that debris was scattered up to 10 miles from the explosion site. If this wasn’t a BLEVE, what the hell was the “fuel” on the train? Antimatter?

    I’ll bet the next film of Dear Leader Kim to escape the NoKo event horizon is scrutinized rather carefully.