Monday, February 18, 2008

A hint of red in the U.K.

Having rejected two (admittedly, subsidy-dependent) private bailout proposals for the ailing Northern Rock Plc, Britain's Labour government is pushing legislation that would allow the government to nationalize the teetering bank. Tellingly, the proposed law would give the government the power to seize any other bank that "runs into trouble."

The last time the British government grabbed control of a major company was in 2002, when it seized Railtrack, which owned much of the country's railroad infrastructure. At the time, government officials were accused of fudging facts and pushing the company into bankruptcy to facilitate the effective renationalization of the rail network.

So, is the U.K. harking back to the bad old days of the 1970s when politicians developed the habit of mugging business owners for their companies and the country was widely derided as the sick man of Europe?

I'd hate to think that out-and-out socialism was coming back into vogue.



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