Despatches from the wacky world of neoliberalism

Well, I was just going to post about the Commission for Energy Regulation’s latest shenanigans in relation to the ESB, but I find that a Mr. Barry Cannon has done so far more eloquently in the IT today.

Madam, – The new orders from the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) restricting the ESB’s pricing regime are beyond comprehension. It seems that in order to achieve a “free market” in electricity supply, a supposedly “good thing” for the electricity user, the State, through the CER is forcing the ESB to keep its prices artificially high.

Furthermore, on recommendation from the Competition Authority, the ESB has been ordered to call itself something else, in order to force us sentimental types who are irrationally attached to it, to choose “cheaper” options. Hence the majority of us who remain with the soon not-to-be ESB are being forced to pay higher prices, so that through the magic of the “free market” we can eventually pay “lower” ones. These somersaults of logic would bamboozle even the craziest of Lewis Carroll’s characters.

This, of course, has nothing to do with supplying “cheaper” or better electricity services to Irish citizens, and is instead an EU-mandated, ideologically driven strategy to break up this highly successful Irish State-run company, in order to eventually prepare it for privatisation.

Privatisation of the electricity service will not mean better deals for citizens, but instead cosy cartels between giant European oligopolies, such as E.ON, which give the illusion of choice while charging us more for less. Furthermore, it will remove the few democratic controls we have over this most strategic of services, with negative effects on jobs and equal conditions of access to electricity.

What we need is not more of this State-sponsored “competition”, but a successful, State-owned, citizen-controlled energy company, charged with providing sustainable, clean and affordable energy in an equitable manner. As for those ideologues, in the CER and elsewhere, that hatched up such a harebrained scheme, I say, to quote the Queen of Hearts “off with their heads!”. – Yours, etc,

BARRY CANNON,

Park Terrace, Dublin 8.

Put that in your pipe and privatise it, Madam!

It really is quite an extraordinary insight into the neoliberal schema. The pretence that privatisation is being pursued to achieve a better deal for the consumer is here even flimsier than usual. Essentially, electricity prices are being kept artificially high because those thrusting, streetwise, ballsy private operators can’t keep up with the supposedly bloated, inefficient, chronically inept public service provider.

I guess sometimes you have to screw the consumer in order to save them.

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