Discussion Forums » Topic of the Month

Topic for November - Unions and Nationalisation

    • 20 posts
    November 10, 2017 11:13 AM GMT

    A more contentious topic than most we have dealt with so far. So even more important to reinforce the Probably42 personality of Balanced, Impartial, Factual, Respectful and Encouraging and to ensure you cover both pros and cons.

    Some of the topics to consider:


    Is Nationalisation of certain industries a good thing in theory?

    We have largely moved away from Nationalised industries because they were judged not to work well in practice. What lessons did we learn from this? What are the pros and cons today?

    What could be done to make Nationalised Industries work and to tackle the actual and perceived difficulties?

    Could Artificial Intelligence and Robotics be used to make them work by taking the human element largely out of the equation? 


    What are the pros and cons most often cited for Unions in the way they are currently constituted and operate?

    Is it possible to align the interests of employers, unions and society?

    Should strikes which affect the general public be illegal?

    Is it possible to have a different dispute resolution process other than strikes?


    • 18 posts
    November 11, 2017 5:14 PM GMT

    In terms of a discussion about the Unions, I think the basic questions to discuss are, 'Are they a force for good or bad? Did their relevance cease at the end of the Industrial Revolution or maybe in the 1950s/60s? If they're still needed, do they have too much, or too little, power? If we think they need transforming, how can that be achieved?

    I think that most of the above is covered in your proposal but I hope I've made some of the points a bit more explicit.


    Your final point about nationalisation is contentious because it seems to imply that, if industries are nationalised, we need something to stop the dastardly humans for ruining them and if we don't do something to remove the human element, then they won't work. This implies a bias against nationalised industries before we start the discussion. using AI and robotics could easily be covered under your third point without making it pejorative, because it's more general. so I think you should omit the final point.

    • 84 posts
    November 13, 2017 9:05 AM GMT

    Thanks for the input Dave. The point about AI and removing some of the human element was perhaps loosely worded. It was there to indicate that even for those who believe human nature when coupled with a monopoly in private or public sector leads to low motivation to change and progress, might need to revisit their thinking. However I concede that the words could have been better chosen.

    How about

    Do monopolies inherently lead to less motivation to change and progress, if so what could be done about this?  Could Artificial Intelligence and Robotics play a role?


    This post was edited by Tony Clack at November 13, 2017 3:35 PM GMT
    • 18 posts
    November 13, 2017 4:17 PM GMT

    Yes, I think that's much better, Tony. It removes the implication that nationalisation will fail because of the flaws in human nature and allows an objective discussion based on that very topic.

    • 17 posts
    November 13, 2017 5:41 PM GMT

    To set the ball rolling, perceived advantages of nationalisation would include

    • economies of scale
    • increased revenue to government
    • ease of implementation of regulation
    • consistency of services
    • prevention of commercial monopoly
    • development of 'backward' areas

    and perceived disadvantages would include

    • inefficiency through lack of competition
    • competing for investment with other government departments
    • political interference
    • lack of shareholder pressure
    • lack of labour mobility
    • risk of tax payer bail-out

    Care to add to this list or disagree with it?


    This post was edited by Geoff Osborne at November 13, 2017 5:42 PM GMT
    • 18 posts
    November 14, 2017 5:01 PM GMT

    That's a good couple of lists. We could add 'Increased union power' to one of them - but which one?

    In terms of nationalisation in general, look at this Guardian article: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/nov/27/privatising-east-coast-rail-rip-off  

    • 1 posts
    November 15, 2017 9:22 AM GMT

    Very interesting topic Tony, I agree with Dave's comments and will try to get a group together here to discuss, will let you know how I get on.

    • 84 posts
    November 16, 2017 9:47 AM GMT

    That's great Bill. I'm happy to talk to you or anyone who wants to form a new Pie and Pint Group on the phone about our experience and give you any hints and tips that I can. Also I'm happy to offer anyone forming a group the opportunity to sit in on one of ours first and/or for me to come along and sit in on their first one, if distance is not too great.  

    • 84 posts
    December 1, 2017 12:58 PM GMT

    You can view the output of the 'Deep Thought' Pie and Pint discussion group on this topic at http://www.probably42.net/documents/2/24/unions-nationalsiation-pie-and-pint-output

    You'll find it includes stats from the ONS (Office of National Statistics), Advantages and Disadvantages of both Unions and Nationalisation and some associated ideas.