There is another way
There is another way.
What if publicly owned and directed assets could be better than the market alternative? Where then for the neoliberal "The market always produces the best results" consensus?

We’re aware of the prevailing school of thought that’s clearly articulated, that the market will always produce better results, no matter the area, than public ownership or publicly funded projects.

This school of thought is pushed by just about all mainstream political parties, all of mainstream media and is accepted as fact by most age groups.

But there is another way. What if publicly owned and directed assets could be better than the market alternative? Where then for the neoliberal “The market always produces the best results” consensus?

Let me tell you the story of a rural constituency in Wales and how it directed a country’s response to the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Ceredigion in West Wales is a large area with a relatively tiny population, just 80000. This trebles with tourists and stays fairly consistent at about 150000 to 240000 right the way through from Easter to October due to its stunning coastline.

A terraced house in Ceredigion

Needless to say, as Ceredigion’s Gold Command team met in late February to discuss it’s reaction to the burgeoning Coronavirus Pandemic, these matters were high on their list of concerns.

They took the painful decision to close the holiday lets and campsite businesses in the county to stop this trebling of population as their largest hospital asset in Aberystwyth was thought to be unlikely to be able to cope with its own populations needs, let alone that of tourists.

They were washing up that meeting and got to any other business.

Step forward our unlikely hero, Barry Rees.

Barry is a Corporate Director at Ceredigion CC but is a scientist by training and a former Biology teacher. He knew enough about disease transmission and enough about this disease to make some very sensible early judgement calls and he put his hand up.

“Has anyone thought about Test and Trace?”.

Met with a table of blank stares he presented his suspicions about how the virus would spread and how he proposed to combat that spread by tracking down all the contacts of a confirmed Covid 19 case and telling them, in turn, to isolate until the incubation period was over it until they showed symptoms themselves.

The stunning coastline of West Wales

He also told them he could do it with a few mobile phones, some clipboards, use of a photocopier and using the council’s own public health team employees.

He wasn’t asking for anything like 12 Billion pounds and an app produced at eye watering expense.

In context, using nothing but public funds and assets Barry had in place a test and trace scheme for the county before Ceredigion had recorded its first case of Covid 19.

Using these assets Ceredigion’s initial Covid 19 levels of infection spiked, just like it’s neighbouring counties.

But then, after two weeks, it just died away. It’s death rate due to Covid 19 at the height of the first wave of the pandemic was 9.6 people per 100000.

Far lower than neighbouring equally rural counties like Pembrokeshire, Gwynedd and Powys (30, 53 and 64 per 100000 respectively).

Someone in Cardiff, seat of the Welsh Government, took notice. Barry Rees and his system were thoroughly examined, and a version of his system was adopted nationwide.

Wales’ test track and trace system is publicly funded, and is run by employees of the various Welsh county councils and the Welsh Government.

At the time of writing it tracks down over 90% of Covid 19 contacts to tell them to self-isolate and had done so consistently since it’s nationwide adoption in early June.

Compare this with the “Market is best” approach by Boris Johnsons Government in England and its failure to reach any more than 67% of confirmed Covid 19 contacts ever and the testing chaos in England, all led by private companies whose consultants are earning over £7.5k per day to fail.

And have so far charged the public purse £12 Billion.

The east coast mainline

There are many other recent examples of how Profit driven companies have failed yet public ownership has succeeded bit you don’t get to hear about them because it doesn’t suit the narrative being driven by Politicians of most Parties and Media outlets in Britain.

Don’t believe me?

Have a look at the East Coast mainline rail franchise that has operated at a profit in Public hands and failed in Private ownership twice in the last decade.

And how those Private Companies have been allowed to get away with Billions in Penalty payments by versions of the incumbent Tory Government.

Billions that rightly should have gone back to the public purse.

This doesn’t have to happen, no matter what this nations Politicians and Media outlets tell you.

It’s precisely why Beacon has been launched in the beating Socialist heart of this country. The message is really simple.

There is another way.


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Chris is an exiled Scouser living in Mid Wales. He believes in the power of collective, collaborative action and City of Liverpool FC.