Saturday, 13 July 2013

Chris Grayling and the corporate outsourcing parasites

Two of the biggest corporate outsourcing companies have been caught defrauding the taxpayer of up to £50 million since 2005 by creating false invoices for the electronic tagging of offenders that were back in custody, abroad, or even in some cases dead. According to an investigation by PriceWaterHouseCoopers, as many as one in six invoices submitted by these companies under the electronic tagging contracts could have been fraudulent.

The two companies that stand accused of this fraudulent activity are G4S and Serco, which between them soak up an incredible £1.5 billion a year in UK government contracts. These companies are almost entirely reliant on taxpayers' cash, handed to them via dodgy, one-sided and occasionally criminally insane outsourcing contracts by governments following the idiotic neoliberal mantra of "private good, public bad".

Anyone that follows politics or sports should be familiar with G4S and their appalling failure to contract enough security staff for the Olympics, despite having such a lucrative and one sided contract extension handed to them by the Tories that they could have spun an enormous profit even had they kitted out every single member of staff in Armani suits and gold Rolexes and paid them double or triple the living wage. After that appallingly high profile debacle their Chief Executive Nick Buckles was allowed to walk away with an incredible £16 million payoff. G4S may be known to older readers by their previous name Group Four Security for their habit of allowing prisoners to escape under one of their early prison transfer contracts in the 1990s. Since then the firm has continued their litany of errors including perjury, many more escapes, child brutality, incompetence and even allowing consignments of crisps to be stolen from under their noses.

Serco also have a wide range of government contracts, for which taxpayers' cash is shoveled at them in return for running private prisons, immigration centres and even a 33% stake in the UK nuclear deterrent which, unbeknown to a lot of people was privatised in 1993 (the other 67% of the UK "independent" nuclear deterrent is owned by two American companies Lockheed-Martin and Jacobs Engineering).

If the mainstream media wasn't almost entirely owned and operated by the same corporate interests as those that dictate government agenda, this vast £multi-million electronic tagging fraud, perpetrated by two of the very largest corporate outsourcing giants would be enough to blast an irreparable hole in the privatisation and outsourcing agenda that has been the modus operandi of every UK government since the ascendancy of neoliberal pseudo-economic theory in 1979.

Sadly though, the vast majority of the media in the UK are puppets of the corporate agenda, and the spin on this story will soon be set with the age old "few bad apples" narrative, the whole episode will be brushed under the carpet and things will rapidly be allowed to return to normal, with the mainstream media refusing to object to (or even cheerleading for) the government of the day carving up taxpayer funded state provision in order to ensure that the taxpayers' money is instead diverted directly to private sector interests, via more dodgy one-sided outsourcing contracts.

One of the most extraordinary elements to the story has been the reaction to the scandal from a Tory hierarchy, that are ideologically wedded to the practice of dismantling the public sector and diverting enormous flows of public money to parasitic private sector outsourcing companies under these inflexible and grotesquely one sided contracts. The reaction of Justice Secretary Chris Grayling was particularly egregious, here's what he had the gall to say to parliament:
"The house will share my astonishment that two of the government's biggest suppliers would seek to charge in this way."
Clearly, Grayling's faith in the infinite virtue of the private sector seems to have remained completely unshaken by all of the private sector profiteering and scandals that have been exposed in recent years. Despite the grotesque profiteering of PFI contractors; the ludicrous G4S Olympics cock-up; all manner of elaborate corporate tax-dodging scams; National Express ditching their franchise to run the East Coast Mainline as soon as the flow of subsidies were turned off and they were expected to return some of their profits to the taxpayer; the justice secretary Chris Grayling expects us to believe that he is a poor, naive simpleton who retains unyielding faith in the corporate sector to behave with perfect morality.

To most people it has been made absolutely clear that the corporate sector has degenerated into a barely regulated pit of thieves, fraudsters and reckless opportunists. One need only look at the financial institutions that have engaged in all kinds of enormous frauds (laundering of $300 billion for Mexican drug cartels, Libor rigging, PPI fraud ... ) and which caused the global economic meltdown with their recklessly over-leveraged Ponzi style gambling, to see that the neoliberal deregulation and privatisation process has created a dystopian crony capitalist anarchy, where the biggest criminal enterprises in the world keep their plundered wealth, whilst the financial costs of their catastrophic gambling and their criminal schemes are extracted from the taxpayer. Chris Grayling doesn't see it that way, perhaps he really is idiot enough to believe the ridiculous Tory narrative the banks did nothing wrong, that we should stop "banker bashing" and instead blame the global financial crisis on UK welfare spending rather than reckless over-leveraged gambling by vast globalised institutions.

It seems improbable that Grayling is that stupid or naive, he probably knows the "blame welfare spending" narrative is a crock of shit as well as he knows that the corporate outsourcing giants are a parasitic bunch that see government coffers as an almost infinite source of wealth to be plundered at will, with the assistance of subservient government ministers signing off on ludicrously one sided contracts in the hope of corporate junkets, political donations or future kick-backs from their corporate buddies. He probably had to stifle his sniggers as he told parliament of his "astonishment" that corporations might not be perfect moral agents.

Talking of ludicrous one sided government contracts, the very same Chris Grayling is currently trying to hive off most of the probation service to the corporate sector, despite the fact that his own Ministry of Justice officials have been advising him that his plans will endanger the public, fail to create the projected savings and damage the reputation of the probation service. Grayling is planning the implementation of a ridiculous privatisation scam where the private sector operators get to cash in on the easy "low-risk" work whilst management of difficult "high-risk" offenders is left with the public sector to pay for. If any of the low-risk offenders are judged to be dangerous, the private sector probation providers won't just be able to offload these costly offenders back onto the public sector, they'll be obliged to under the terms of their contract! Thus, if the profit margins on any of the offenders they are managing look too thin, the private sector probation service will be able to just hand them back to the public sector by claiming that they are dangerous!

The two main bidders to cash in on Chris Grayling's reckless probation service privatisaation plan: G4S and Serco of course!

What you can do
If you think the planned privatisation of the probation service sound bonkers enough, even if the main bidders weren't two companies that are under investigation for defrauding the taxpayer, please take a moment to sign the petition against this unjustifiable privatisation:
Link to petition

if you have a bit more time, please consider writing to your local MP to explain your opposition to this ridiculous plan. Your local MP has a statutory obligation to respond to your concerns as long as you include your name and postal address in your letter/email. If you do get a reply, perhaps you could post it in the comments section here. It would be very interesting to compare and contrast the responses, to see if (as usual) the responses are just repeat iterations of copy n' paste jobs distributed by the party central office.
You can find contact details for your local MP using this search tool

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More articles from

The G4S Olympic farce
The economic case against tax dodging
Tory priorities: Serve the rich, smash the poor
PFI and economic alchemy

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