Given the interminable bad news South Africans are receiving about their state-owned enterprises (SOEs), such as the huge South African Airways losses, frequent cost increases at Eskom and poor management and losses experienced by a long list of state companies, it might be useful to look at the disastrous experience of the UK government when it misguidedly entered into the field of enterprise. In his book They Meant Well: Government Project Disasters, Profr David Myddelton explains why well-meaning politicians and government officials so often get involved in grandiose projects, only to make a hash of them and cost taxpayers huge amounts of money. He described in detail six British government project disasters, the massive cost overruns and the reluctance of politicians to pull the plug on their mistakes. The author, because currency debasement makes comparisons of money amounts over time inexact, provided a best attempt at comparing the costs of the projects over the 85 years of t...

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