The highest bidder

The good burgers of the Wadden Island of Terschelling have given the cabinet’s plans to flog off ferry concessions to the highest bidder a bit of a blow by deciding to set up their own ferry service instead.

The island of Texel already has its own ferry service and will continue to do so, even when ferry services are put out to tender next year.
Ministers were forced to exempt Texel from the plans after pressure from MPs. Ferry services are vital to island life – you don’t have any alternatives to get to the mainland.
So would an outside company coming in with profit maximisation on its mind put the islanders first? Similar ferry sell-offs in Scotland show quite clearly where the owners’ interests lie.
But the march of the free market is unstoppable. Now the health service authority – headed up by Frank de Grave, a stalwart of the free-market Liberal party – is urging the government to allow hospitals to pay dividends to what the consultation document avoids calling shareholders.
Hospitals need to be able to attract more capital to improve services and this would allow them to do it, the authority says in its report. Conveniently forgetting to mention that as the health service watchdog it could also urge the government to come up iwth more cash instead.
And will an outside company investing in hospitals in order to make money really put patients first?

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