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% Share Based Accident Fines

% Share Based Accident/Problem Fines
  (+5, -3)
(+5, -3)
  [vote for,

Why doesn't the goverment introduce legislation that mean that instead of giving National Utilities (Water, Gas, Electic, Trains etc) paltry fines every time they screw up, are instead fined a % of their shares.

(A £500 will not discourage Yorkshire Water from imposing a hosepipe ban 150 days a year when they lose 1/2 their water through leakage - it is 100 times cheaper for them to keep paying the fines and installing hopepipe bans and standpipes than it is to actually repair the leaky pipes in the streets.)

For example, each time their is a rail crash, Railtrack is fined 10% of it's shares, which then become goverment property. (10% of the starting amount of shares.)

Thus, if the company keep doing whatever got them fined, eventually the government will own a controlling stake in the company and the company would return to public ownership.

I can't see a downside with this. Companies would have a choice of fixing the problem or handing the company over to the government.

This would essentially solve the problem of previously publically owned companies not investing in there own infrastructures, and instead creaming off the money to shareholders.

CasaLoco, Apr 30 2001


       erm... these companies can't hand over shares to the government. That's the point of shares - they're owned by shareholders.
hippo, Apr 30 2001

       The could print more shares, although this would dilute the share price. However this would in turn encourage shareholders to seek that such "fines" are avoided.
Aristotle, Apr 30 2001

       The company could also be forced to buy back shares - many companies do this sometimes anyway to push up the share price.
CasaLoco, Apr 30 2001

       Is there any way to reverse the process? You seem to think that public ownership of the utilities is a good thing; if so, why not just nationalize them and get it over with?
egnor, Apr 30 2001

       Nationalisation - would be too expensive. I suppose companies could be given the option to buy back the shares after a couple of years - assuming there service has improved.   

       Please note - I am not a socialist! But privatisation doesn't seem to have worked...   

       This is just the ONLY way I can see that these companies could be made to behave - they have a monopoly and are simply extorting the public and the government. (Railtrack demand for x million government cash to help them repair the railway, while they still pay shareholders... ) Unless you can make it financialy painfull for them to change, they'll just keep under-investing and paying shareholders.   

       If anyone can come up with any better ideas....
CasaLoco, Apr 30 2001

       Conglomerate/Monopoly/Government Utilities are all going to kill everyone off one way or another in the name of fiscal responsibility. They just need to keep you alive long enough to drain you of all your funds.   

       Go live in the hills and generate your own electricity/water/food. Made me feel better, although no one will come visit any more. Actually, I think that's *why* I feel better . . .
wasraw, Apr 30 2001

       Made us feel better too. :-)
al, May 01 2001

       hey, wasraw... I'm in for electricity if you'll do food.
absterge, May 01 2001

       I think the idea needs a little polishing; a company that performed better than average should probably be given some of its shares back, and the whole idea is most relevant to things that are general "public goods" - utilities, transit, language standards... which were usually kickstarted by public investment anyway.   

       And it needs to be possible for a populace to vote to replace or privatize a public utility if they think the public utility is doing a bad job.
hello_c, May 01 2001

       A percentage of reported earnings?
decafsilicon, May 09 2001

       One problem I see here is, what happens when the government has 60%? Then every time the government screws it up even more, they get another 10%. I realize this is the way that government tends to work, but I thought we were looking for solutions here. . . .
Uncle Apollo, May 23 2001

       [Uncle Appolo] - Unlike shareholders the government wouldn't be in it to make a profit.   

       This is the thing about publically owned utilities.   

       When you privatise ANYTHING that was publically owned, the shareholders will expect dividends. Either you have to reduce the quality of the service or charge more. That's why in my opinion almost ALL utilities should be publically owned. Sure, thing s were bad before, but now they are SOOOO much worse. The concept of privatisation is flawed.
CasaLoco, Jan 14 2002


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