Thursday, 20 December 2012

Comet - a sign for our times

The collapse of the electrical retail chain Comet seems, on the face of it, to be yet another example of the capitalist system having evolved to a state in which  profits are privatised and, despite the Thatcherite philosophy of their being no such thing, "society" usefully emerges to bear any losses. 

As I understand it, a loss-making Comet was handed over by its conglomerate owners to a private-equity group allegedly skilled in rescuing  failing businesses, To help in the turn-round they were given a dowry of £50 million.  In less than a year the rescue has failed, nearly 7 000 people have lost their jobs, £26million in unpaid VAT and payroll taxes is owed to the government , and, just to rub salt in the wound, the government, that is, we the taxpayers, must foot the bill for £23 million of redundancy payments.

So what happened to the £50 million sweetener, and how is it that the private-equity group turn out to be secured creditors and are thus first in line, before even the government, to receive any funds recouped form the débâcle?

I understand that Vince Cable is to set up an enquiry, but I think we're all a it fed up of enquiries.  In January I play  Cardinal Wolsey in a local amateur production of Bolt's "A Man for all Seasons."  The plot centres around Henry VIII's need for an heir and I repeatedly ask Sir Thomas More:  "What are you going to do about it?"

 So to Liberal Democrats in government I ask, "What are you going to do about this racket  in which  the rich seem again and again to walk away with the cream and those at the bottom of the pile get hammered?" 

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