wasabi2k:I'm not really bothered about getting tax from people too bright to pay it. Indeed, I consider it a duty to pay as little as legally possible since governments mostly waste it anyway.
I'm more bothered about getting it from those too lazy, feckless, indolent or otherwise who manage to get through life living off everyone else.
GST is very good for that, as everyone has to pay it.
If you think the private sector has no transparency and does not obey the law, I can assure you it is perfectly possible for that not to be the case.
In Britain, private companies (all created from state owned operations) supply water, sewage, electricity, gas, rail, telecoms and so on. Whilst rail can be a bit patchy, all the others are actually pretty efficient and innovative. Anglian Water, a UK water company (privatised in the early 90's from a government owned operation), designed and built the sewage treatment plant at Moa Point in Wellington, for example.
The key is adequate regulation with teeth. Every 5 years, all the former SEO's must submit their plans to the Official Regulator for their industry. These plans include what they will charge, how much better their customer service will get, how much better their network maintenance will get, what they will do to secure supply and so on. The Regulator then doubles what they have to achieve and halves what they can charge (not literally but you get the idea) and they cannot charge a bean more for the next 5 years. If they fail to meet the agreed targets, huge fines will be levied on them.
There is complete transparency and under such scrutiny those companies work far better than they ever did when full of dull plodding government employees who required 10 signatures to get a new pencil!
So you consider it a duty to pay as little tax as possible because governments waste it?
At the same time your solution to increase transparency and adherence to the law is regulation?
Who exactly in this solution would be running the regulator? The same wasteful government? An independent organisation? Who funds the organisation? Who are they beholden to? What laws do they abide by or enforce? Who will pass these laws? Where are the incentives?
There are a number of positives that CAN be gained from privatization, but there is also the potential for a lot of harm. The belief that privatization makes everything more efficient and is all rainbows is deeply and severely flawed. At the same time a publicly traded company cannot operate with what you describe. Public companies must provide benefits to shareholders, or else they go elsewhere. Who on earth would invest in a company in the environment you describe? Noone. Share price tanks, as will the company, government is forces to buy them out or face national infrastructure failures. We are not the first country to go through SOE privatization and there are plenty of disaster stories out there, see water supply in south america for one.
There are a number of services that make little to no commercial sense but deliver an important social benefit. I pay my tax. I could probably get out of more of it if I tried. I am pissed off at the high level of social welfare dependence and sense of entitlement. At the same time I am incredibly grateful for the amazing healthcare my family has received at no cost to me. I am also grateful for the police force, motorways and everything else provided to me.
In short - regulation is not a panacea. Companies aim to maximise profits, it is what they do. While we'd all like to live in an ethical, socially responsible world the truth is if there is someone willing to do the "bad" thing and in doing so make more money - people will do it.
I'm merely saying that in the UK they have already been down this path and they have a methodology which works very well. The former SEO things there are 100% privatised - no 51% government interference.
The Regulators are akin to something like the SSC here - they are quangos but have real power. See this from 2008 as an example (OFWAT is the water industry regulator)
"Water company Severn Trent faces a £35.8m fine by Ofwat, the biggest penalty ever imposed by the water industry regulator, and pleaded guilty to two fraud charges this morning. That could mean the company could be hit by a further sizeable fine next month.
Severn Trent's chief executive, Tony Wray, admitted mistakes but blamed a "previous regime" at the firm. He apologised to the company's 8 million customers and said the firm would cut bills by £10.6m, equivalent to £2.40 per household.
Britain's second-largest water company is to be fined by Ofwat for supplying false data to the regulator and providing poor customer service. The shares dropped 7p to £14.37 on the news before recovering to £14.45 by 11.20am."