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Consider just as an intellectual exercise, the foolishness of privatising New Zealand rail, when and how it was done.
1. There are no clear rules for private-eminent-domain in NewZealand. How does a potential competitor realistically produce a new rail?
2. There is no advanced way to know for sure that you can take over the government land, and if so, what price can you do it at.
3. The above goes for the hypothetical prospect of setting up competition, not only as competing rail, but also as competing road and sea transport.
4. New Zealand is a long skinny country. Not exactly suitable for multiple competing rail.
5. It appears to me that a minimum requirement prior to privatising the rail would have been for the Wellington bigshots, to travel around the country and to get local governments to agree on a motherload of coastal areas, to being approved for the potential-but-not-the-necessity, for the investment of wharf facilities. So that any wharf developer would face a sellers market for the required land.
As everyone knows, nothing beats sea transport for cost-effectiveness when it comes to slow heavy cargo. And without sea transport, the privatised rail, therefore lacks an inherently effective competitor.
6. (a) Since setting up a competitor for the national rail carrier would take many years of investment before revenues, let along profits, would be reached….
and (b). Since all that time the investors would have to be paying income taxes for their employees.
7. It stands to reason that prior to flippantly selling off the rail we would need a 50 year tax exemption for the investments that made full spectrum competition with that rail doable.
8. A patriotic and nationalistic consequence of 7, is that we must have the legal framework, for a new type of company, wherein the shares can be only owned by citizens of that country, if the infrastructural goods are clearly “strategic”.
That the end result of these reforms might be that the goods are competitive and not strategic, down the track, is neither here nor there, for the decision, to sell or not to sell, before the reforms and the future investments run their full course.
While an honest argument that the goods are strategic yet exists, there is a need for a category of shares, that are only valid, in the citizen of that countries, hands. The reclassification of those shares as non-strategic, can wait for another day, if a country wishes to stay free and sovereign.
So you see, the privatisation of New Zealand rail, and pretty much every asset sale you can think of, was at best, way premature. Not in terms of the decade wherein the sales were made. But rather in terms of getting the reform together, to make it the case, that the sales would be made, in the context of a functioning industry.
Now I personally, want it, that in the end, all things that can be private be private.
Fans of the Professor might wish for a great deal of this stuff to stay public. Surely we can agree across ideological lines on this one matter. That the reform comes first. The asset sales come later. If at all.
What happened to the socialist idea of the government fading away? Strategically I say lets keep the government assets, and reform things so that they will fade away in the relative sense, by us creating such a fair and dynamic environment, that the private stuff overwhelms the public stuff.
In any case let us remember Nancy Reagan who is a good girl, and was one half of a formidable duo.
“just….. say …… no.”