In the UK, as in many western countries, the contemporary orthodoxy is competition through privatisation. This is supposed to drive down prices and encourage efficiency and, eventually, cause the withering away of the State.
Most things here are now operating as private companies in the crazy world of The Market. So much so, in fact, that many people under the age of thirty won’t remember it any other way.
Just to remind you, we used to own water in common, and it was piped to our homes at no charge. It was free because, we foolishly thought, no-one could own the water that fell from the sky.
We also, unbelievably, owned the nation’s gas and electricity. When they gave it to private companies, did anyone ask us if they could do that? I’m sure no-one asked me.
I could go on . . . we owned British Airways, the railways, the postal system, all of the health service, air traffic control, the steel industry, the coal mines. Oh, it breaks my heart to think of how we have been plundered and pillaged, with not a whimper of protest.
Yes, when we owned the railways, we used to moan about them a lot. The dirtiness, the lateness, the sandwiches. Of course we did . . . we owned it. We wanted it improved, not given away. Giving it to The Market means we have no real say in it at all.
When will they give away Christmas, I wonder?
It could be so much more efficient.
Father Christmas (in the UK), or Santa is grossly inefficient. He only works part-time, yet look at the size of his workforce. And all those reindeer!
He could easily be put on a zero hours contract. When you examine his year, we only need him for a couple of weeks each year. .The reindeer and the elves (or whatever his helpers are called) could be made redundant in this age of the internet-thing and cheap Chinese factories. Children have no need to write letters to the North Pole.+
The legislation needed would be simple. Most of the actual presents and so on are privatised already. Everything is in the shops, making money for someone (but never for you). All it would need would be the addition of a carefully worded Santa clause in the paperwork.
His work . . . of putting joy and colour and laughter into the darkest time of the year . . . could be put out to tender. We might get it all done cheaper then.
But we wouldn’t own him anymore.
That would stop us moaning, wouldn’t it?