What a field day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly saying, "hooray for our side"

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Be careful for what you wish for

The other day I was in the Village Hall when our local Tea Party organizer came in with pamphlets. She asked the clerks if they new about the big meeting up at the KSU Ashtabula Branch to talk about the increases in the electrical distribution charges, the removal of the all electric discount, generation charge increases, and what they could do. I'm very glad they didn't try to engage me. I understand how upset they are.

And slightly disappointed. So, the organization that really would like to have less government involvement in their lives, are upset there's less government involvement in their lives. Yes, PUCO (our state regulator) screwed up (not the first time with First Energy, see the CFL's at 1000% plan and the mercury release plan). PUCO has long been taken over by corporate interests because of several conservative administrations just not giving a damn about it (and arguing against any regulation at all). In fact, they pushed to deregulate the state's energy production, all in the name of "competition" and "lower prices." Well, lower prices haven't come about. And for First Energy's area we've only had two other companies offering competition. The first, Green Mountain Energy pulled out when First Energy held back the collected fees for more than six months (which was illegal, but nothing was done about it). The second, Gexxa, just pulled out (no explanation has been forth coming). So First Energy has no competition and is very lightly regulated.

And most of these people were very happy to abandon NOPEC when it looked like First Energy was going to give them a discount.

So, want to lower costs? Well, you can re-regulate the market, introducing a stronger PUCO, one that answers to the people, instead of being run second hand by the industries. But that means more government interference in your daily lives, something you've argued against (and let slip away because you felt that an unregulated market would work best for you). Or rejoining NOPEC and making it stronger. But that's a collective, something very much like socialism, which again you've argued against (by conflating things that really weren't equal).

And now having got exactly what you argued for, less government involvement and an open/free market, you're not happy about it. Really hate to tell you we said so. Yep. We really didn't want to be in this circumstance.

Oh, hey, how's you're health care insurance going? What's your increase this year? Also, notice how Medicare Advantage and Part D (you know, those parts the conservatives made sure were privatized, and mandated overpayments to) are also increasing their premiums by double digit percentages? Also just saw a Fox News report about how doctors' offices are now requiring you leave a credit card on file in case your insurance doesn't pay, or pays slowly. They'll just charge the card now. Yep, seems doctors, who most have a billing department, have grown tired of fighting your insurance companies on your behalf. Good thing we stopped that horrible reform.

I believe this is what's known as being hoisted on one's own petard. The good thing for us is that businesses are not long term thinkers. For them, having defeated the problems last quarter, they are far beyond it. And they don't expect you to see the connections.


Rick said...

Both capitalism and socialism as systems independent of each other are dinosaurs. Karl Marx was about as bright as Adam Smith.

No healthy organism or organization does well as either/or. I sponsored too many Russians into this country to have any illusions about the glories central planning. It's as stupid as a completely free market.

Some day, when political enthusiasts are done ranting to feel powerful, it'd be nice to blend together individual liberties and social needs like adults. Democrats, Republicans, Socialists and Capitalists are really too far out of date to call them dinosaurs. How about just calling them what they are- tired old thinkers who have nowhere else to vent their rage except at each other.

If the best we can do for options are socialism and capitalism, we need some new thinkers. Maybe it's time to resurrect the Technocrats again. That's it. Seriously we need a third party that's not a stupid stepchild of one of the other two.

I'm glad I read this posting, Steve. Now I'm seriously going to track down the Technocrats. Sure the movement died out in the 1930's, but maybe a new generation not afraid of science and too busy reading socialist/capitalist pamphlets to think will give it a re-consideration. I now believe that what Technocracy lacked for a successful presentation of its ideas was a computer culture such as we are developing now.

I will accept either Steve Jobs or Bill Gates as president or vice president because they are really the same person wearing different masks.

Steve Buchheit said...

Rick, I agree. Which is why I think regulation is a good course. Set the playing field, make sure everybody abides by the rules, and let businesses compete that way (one of the reasons I'm against selling insurance across state lines, it'll quickly go to the state with the least amount of regulation, consumer protection, and mandated coverage).

And I'm not sure technocrats are a good option. I could make an argument of "we're a government of special interests and lobbyists" which would qualify as a quasi-technocracy (suborned by corporate interests).

While I still don't like the idea, maybe federal funding of elections (as a candidate, you get money from the federal government and that is the only money you get to spend) is necessary to restore the focus to the people.

Well, that and actual districting instead of gerrymandering (like making a requirement of mathematic proportions to the districts, something like the border and only be such and such relationship to the area, forcing more quadrangle like borders instead of a camouflage pattern of snaking borders.

Rick said...

That is really sharp thinking, Steve. I'm with you on all aspects of the federal election funding. Districting, too.