In 2008 the big bank’s run of illegal practices caught up to them when they crashed like the Hindenburg. Their censure was to be bailed out by the taxpayer, unconditionally, and then sold off back to the usual suspects at mates’ rates. G4S are a firm now ubiquitous with security, they get all the big contracts, in spite of the fact their negligence in securing the London Olympics was such that the army had to be deployed. Their punishment was that their ‘management fee’ was reduced to £31 Million, from the originally promised sum of £57 Million. Serco has fobbed off the tax payer for literally tens of billons for an excel spreadsheet, to accomplish what Ireland achieved with about £500 Million. Now, it is revealed a minority of the companies charged with feeding our children in the midst of a crisis have been delivering scraps to kids and pocketing the profits. The taxpayer coughs up for a £30 quid package and some poor child gets a banana, a loaf of bread and a yoghurt. The crony culture runs rampant, and the offenders are never reprimanded, and this being the case, there is no deterrence for those who are morally vacuous, so we need to appeal to them in a way that can resonate more effectively. We must appeal to their selfish instincts, by being prepared to hold criminally liable those companies who egregiously betray their charge and engage in this sort of flagrant racketeering.
We are supposed to live in a market society, where good services will rise to the top and bad providers crash and burn. But we don’t, we actually have a rigged system in which a number of companies enjoy national or local monopolies, and rip of the taxpayer with an uncaring view to the consequences. All that matters is money. The government bureaucrats either are too uncaring to the facts, or too unwilling to disbelieve in the power of the market to magically right all wrongs, to take action in a serious way. The way is cleared then for (a minority) of companies to take the complete and utter piss, siphon taxpayers’ money from the exchequer and exacerbate social ills. Who cares that recent years have seen a rise in Dickensian diseases like Rickets, just give them a potato and put the £30 in your pocket! There’s no such thing as society after all, greed is good, it’s a dog-eat-dog world.
If companies who used flammable cladding to make monetary savings equivalent to the that which you’d lose in the back of the sofa faced the prospective of being charged with corporate manslaughter, they might reconsider. If companies who think they can save a buck by feeding kids trash, could be held liable for malnutrition, they might think twice. If casino bankers went to prison instead of onto the honours list, they might be more conservative. Free market theory is perfectly fine, but it invariably collides with the hurdle of reality – some people don’t play the game rationally, many only want short term gains, others are given free reign to engage in their malpractice and are enabled by governance at the highest levels. That might change if we began to hold companies seriously accountable, and make sure that gross misconduct and exploitation of the taxpayer, or profiteering by entrenching ill health and malnutrition can be prosecutable offences.