We have an interesting example of Robert Peston having not the first clue about business – well, actually, not having he first clue about how the world works. To deal with Brexit possibilities the government has decided to hire a bit of extra ferry capacity. As we’ve said before it looks like we’re going to be £12.9 billion up on this deal which is nice.
However, The Guardian is getting very het up about the idea that one of the companies hired has never run a ferry, has no ferries and so, well, why have they been hired? One useful answer is that there is no Ramsgate to Ostend ferry at present so no company in the world – no extant at least, the last went bust – has the active experience of running a Ramsgate to Ostend ferry. Whoever is chosen is going to be coming at this for the first time therefore. That the people selected are coming at this for the first time is less of a surprise at this point.
But, you know, outrage!
One of the companies contracted by the government to charter ferries in the event of a no-deal Brexit does not own any ships, has not previously operated a ferry service and is not planning to do so until close to the UK’s scheduled departure date from the European Union, it has emerged.
Is it a revelation that the company which prints The Guardian didn’t know how to print The Guardian until it started printing The Guardian?
However, more ire should be directed at Robert Peston:
How can a contract worth £13.8m to run goods ships in the event of a no-deal Brexit be awarded to a company that wants to run ships but does not actually do so? What do you think? https://t.co/Z6r8i9Asuw
— Robert Peston (@Peston) December 30, 2018
We think? We think you should stop dribbling Peston, there have occasionally been rumours that you’re supposed to know about this business stuff.
Come along now, a company is just a legal form of organisation. It exists to organise to do something. And that’s all it is. It can hire or lease the machinery – here the ferries – and all that. It’s just the legal structure within which all of this is done. You know, the legal form by which all of he various assets and knowledge to achieve the task are hired? There is no there there in a company other than what is hired in.
Ronald Coase taught us some interesting stuff about when it is hired in as in employed and hired in as in contracted but that’s a different matter.
But we can take this a little bit further. So, government has awarded this contract. But government might want to run ships yet doesn’t have any to run. So, obviously enough, by the logic being deployed here, government shouldn’t be given the power to issue a contract to have ferries run, should it?
Come along now, the claim is that a company with no ships shouldn’t get a ferry contract. But then a government with no ships shouldn’t get a ferry contract either, should it? Why is out money, cash from us taxpayers, being abstracted by a government to run ferries when that government doesn’t have any ferries?
Ah,you say, but government is the organisation through which the contracting is done to make the ferries work. OK, so, contracting work out is just fine so what’s wrong with Seabourne Freight gaining a contract which they then split and sub out?
Either government shouldn’t be doing it as it has no ships or Seabourne’s just fine as the managers of a contract rather than the owners of the assets. You don’t get to have it both ways….