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People don’t really appreciate things unless they pay for them.

Money - Seeing the future

I have a hospital appointment in 2 weeks. I’ll have to pay £1 for every 30 minutes to park my car. Before the charges were introduced, I couldn’t get a parking space, people parked and went to lunch.  I can park now and so the parking charge is a good thing. Right?

The hospital also has a expensive Costa Coffee, contributing money to the upkeep of the hospital. It’s a modern and clean new hospital built using PFI (private finance initiative). It works!

Perhaps we could extend this idea. I find it hard to park my car in other places too. It’s impossible to park outside schools when the kids are coming out, maybe they could tarmac over the sports fields and have car parks bringing in some cash for the schools? Why not do the same sort of thing in shopping centres. We do have charges in my local town, but it’s only 20p, so I can never park there either.

Other charges could be introduced, as part of the Big Society and social business. We could have tolls on more roads, maybe some kind of electronic number plate system? In schools the meals service could be run as a social business and make a small profit. Why should school meals be subsidized? Schools could offer a few other services running as social businesses. School trips could make a profit.

Parks and nature reserves too, could have some social businesses. I would welcome places where you can get a cup of tea, or a cold drink on a hot day. They could sell souvenirs too. More social enterprises could mean lower council tax bills. People don’t really appreciate things unless they pay for them and if they are subsidised don’t realise how valuable the service is. Why subsidise anything that we can’t all enjoy? Why have free libraries, subsidised child care, subsidised leisure centres and swimming?

There is another point of view. Some companies give lots of stuff away free and make their money in other ways. Google search is free and they make the money from advertising. So are lots of other things like Microsoft Live software. Maybe councils and ‘social enterprises’ could fund things using innovative ideas. Advertising on schools perhaps or sponsorship?

When I was young, we had to spend a penny to use a public toilet. That would be 10 pence now and people would have to pay it. Wouldn’t they? Maybe, when they have to pay it, it can seem a little like extortion. Perhaps we should only charge people when there is a choice or we only charge people when it’s socially responsible. Such as charging people to park, so they don’t park any longer than necessary? Should we use financial incentives to make people more socially responsible though? Speed cameras seem to work, they were bringing in a lot of money anyway. They are going to turn them all off where I live, it seems the cost of changing the films in them, out ways their ability to raise cash.

Do we really want a society where we just look at people’s ability to pay rather than their needs? Should we farm out mental health services and family planning to charities that bid for a contract and are effectively social businesses? Where will all this privatisation and social business stuff end? Will all the child minding and caring go back to being done by amateurs after all the licensing and health and safety of recent years. We seem to go from one social experiment to the next. How about a common-sense experiment that doesn’t need a CEO on 200K  a year for a change?

I also wrote about social business on a zillion ideas today. Why not check it out and you can also have your say by making a comment.


One response

  1. Pingback: The Saturday review | SAD « Mike10613's Blog

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