Ukania’s Great Privatization Heist

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

Margaret Thatcher was very good at telling tall tales. Ukania’s tragedy is that far too many Brits fell for these tales.

Probably the biggest of these tales concerned the notion of a share-owning democracy.

The idea here was simple, but utterly misguided – sell off the publicly-owned enterprises, and everyone will be able to buy shares in the newly privatized companies. By buying however many shares you want, you will become a part of Thatcher’s great British share-owning democracy.

Many of us knew at that time that it was never going to be like this at all. As Marx noted, the stock exchange, where the shares of the newly privatized companies would of course be traded, is “where the little fish are swallowed by the sharks and the lambs by the stock-exchange wolves”.

The wealthy have always used their resources to acquire a monopoly on company shares. So when the public enterprises were put on sale at rock-bottom prices by Thatcher and her cronies, the wealthy rushed to collar the majority of the share offerings, the ensuing demand drove-up the price of the shares, and in so doing put nearly all of them beyond the reach of Joe and Jill Normal.

So what actually happened to the “great British share-owning democracy”?

The state bureaucrats so excoriated by Thatcher have been replaced by private bureaucrats, albeit ones paid astronomical salaries when compared to those received by their counterparts in the annihilated state…

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