Selling your grandmother(s)

Long ago, I devised a measure to rate the naked ambition of one of my then colleagues.  This was based on the number of his grandmothers he would be willing to sell to climb the next rung up the corporate ladder.  In those more innocent days, I was not positing that the sold grandparents would wind up in a 100% beef lasagne, probably just on a quay-side in Valparaiso – a location for some reason linked in my mind to the white slave trade (I have no idea why and I would like to apologise unreservedly to the Chilean port for this base canard).  On this scale, my ex-colleague scored significantly above two – thus requiring the imagining of a thriving secondary market in female grandparents.

This government seems to share the messianic zeal for privatisation of its ideological predecessor – well, I say ideological, though in my more cynical moments (basically, those moments between me waking in the morning and falling asleep at night) I suspect it has far more to do with the financial kick-backs.  I might take a different view of privatisation had ever proved successful, but with the mess made of the railways and with BT and the privatised utilities being among the most hated and least trusted corporations in the land – the successful privatisation (from the perspective of the UK populace) is as rare as hen’s teeth or frog’s fur.  Privatisation has often been described as selling the family silver – usually at massively below its “market” value – but I think recent news suggests we have now moved into selling the family (or at least its older, female members).

Yesterday, I gave blood – the quickest method of weight-loss I know, though one somewhat ameliorated by the subsequent gorging on free biscuits.  For my previous 74 donations, this blood was used purely for the public weal – but now, it would seem that my public spirit is also to enrich a bunch of US venture capitalists.  In the catalogue of wickedness perpetrated by this government, this sets a new low.  It also strikes me as very dangerous to introduce market norms where they do not belong – perhaps the government would do well to read Michael Sandel’s excellent book What Money Can’t Buy.  I do wonder if people will be quite so willing to give freely of their life blood if such generosity is going to reward foreign venture capitalists?  I am far from convinced that I trust commercial interest with our blood supply – let’s face it, commercial corporations have not covered themselves in glory in recent years with their probity (particularly, when they thought no-one was looking or had ensured that it was in people’s financial interest not to look).  I wonder how long we will have to wait before the horse plasma scandal breaks?