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How the Free Market Rocked the Grid 551

Posted by Soulskill
from the current-events dept.
sean_nestor sends in a story at IEEE Spectrum that begins: "Most of us take for granted that the lights will work when we flip them on, without worrying too much about the staggeringly complex things needed to make that happen. Thank the engineers who designed and built the power grids for that — but don't thank them too much. Their main goal was reliability; keeping the cost of electricity down was less of a concern. That's in part why so many people in the United States complain about high electricity prices. Some armchair economists (and a quite a few real ones) have long argued that the solution is deregulation. After all, many other US industries have been deregulated — take, for instance, oil, natural gas, or trucking — and greater competition in those sectors swiftly brought prices down. Why not electricity?"
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How the Free Market Rocked the Grid

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  • by DarkVader (121278) on Friday December 24, 2010 @07:31PM (#34662626)

    No, the solution is MORE regulation, not less.

    The rates need to be regulated, and the private companies need to be taken over by nonprofit public organizations.

    Every time deregulation is tried, consumers get shafted.

    • by blackraven14250 (902843) on Friday December 24, 2010 @07:35PM (#34662648)
      No, the real free market solution (a.k.a. the ones politicians would never propose) is that you get a whole bunch of power companies competing on the same grid, attempting to be a lower cost than one another, and give consumers a choice of who to pay for their power. You don't regulate the price directly, or directly control the companies providing the power; that's a recipe for disaster. Granting a monopoly, whether government or private, is going to cause bloat and high prices, then eventual failure of the system.
      • by bit trollent (824666) on Friday December 24, 2010 @07:44PM (#34662714) Homepage

        The system you describe is exactly what we have in Texas. The only thing we got out of deregulation is a bunch of sleazy 'energy companies' that don't do anything more than tack on sleazy and underhanded fees to our electric bill.

        Thanks to this scheme Texans pay higher prices for our electricity than surrounding states. Fortunately for our corrupt politicians like Rick Perry, most Texans are too dumb to notice that we've been taken advantage of.

        When you consider that Governor Perry still managed to get re-elected after skipping the only debate against Democrat Bill White, its clear that Texas is the perfect state to let the 'free market' raise costs for everyone while the ignorant masses cheer them on.

        • Don't forget Enron (Score:4, Interesting)

          by sourcerror (1718066) on Friday December 24, 2010 @08:55PM (#34663100)

          They pushed for deregulation, then prices started to skyrocket, and blackout/brownouts followed.

        • by DAldredge (2353) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Friday December 24, 2010 @11:28PM (#34663748) Journal
          East Texas is still regulated. We pay AEP/SWEPCO less then 10 cents per KW/h during the summer and less than 9 cents per KW/h during the winter. Tyler Texas has portions that are in the regulated area and portions that are in the unregulated area. The regulated are has much more growth than the nonregulated area IIRC.
      • by HeLLFiRe1151 (743468) on Friday December 24, 2010 @08:24PM (#34662966)
        We tried this crap in California 10 years ago. All the utility companies did was shut down their plants to cause demand and high prices. Remember that company....Enron? PG&E bankruptcy? It ends up being collusion and not competition.
      • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Friday December 24, 2010 @09:13PM (#34663184) Journal

        And what you'll end up with is cartels lining up to see who can ass rape the consumer the most. See California's energy deregulation for an example. There is NO way to get a truly "free" free market because it is simply too easy and profitable to collude. See DRAM prices, LCD prices, for examples.

        Do you REALLY want cheap electricity? You do? Well the answer is simple: Tell the NIMBYs to STFU and approve the building of plenty of new nuclear reactors, as well as breeder reactors to reprocess the waste, which will take care of most of the long term storage problems. Tada! You ALL get cheap electricty, with plenty for electric cars or anything else. I live in north AR and thanks to AR Nuke 1&2 electricity is cheap enough around here many apts throw it in for free. We have plenty of uranium, nuke plants don't belch out carbon or other crap like the coal plants (which should be shut down BTW, clean coal my ass) and can crank out the juice for decades at VERY cheap prices per KWH. We just need to tell the NIMBYs to STFU and get to building, that's all. All deregulation will do is give us rolling blackouts, crazy prices which in a dead economy would be economic suicide, just ask the people of California how deregulation is working out for 'em.

        • I agree, but sadly, it's not just NIMBY's holding up nuclear power. Investing in a new nuclear plant is very expensive, with returns only overcoming costs in the long run. But I'd love to see nuclear power replace coal. And nobody whine to me about radiation, you'd get more radiation exposure from normal living than from exposure from living near a 3-mile-island like meltdown.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Russ Nelson (33911)

      There is no such thing as deregulation. Markets are regulated by their customers. The only way to get deregulation is to NOT regulate by government, and yet force the customers to buy anyway. And gee, that's exactly what happened in California when it deregulated.

      • by hedwards (940851)
        Not true. Deregulation as the term is defined, means that the government gets out of the way and lets what will happen happen. Customers do not regulate a market, never have and never will, they just don't buy and refuse to buy in lock step.

        On top of that if none of the providers are willing to offer what the customers want, it won't happen. In a regulated economy, what tends to happen is the government steps in and provides it at tax payer expense.
    • by frisket (149522) <peter@@@silmaril...ie> on Friday December 24, 2010 @07:46PM (#34662730) Homepage
      Exactly. In every country I have been in where it has been deregulated, the result has been higher prices and lower service. Somehow we must nail this myth that deregulation means competition: it doesn't, it means cartels, and it means the ownership of the productive capacity passes into the hands of ignorant investors and greedy bankers instead of the producers, so you end up with energy companies being owned by anonymous, uninterested, and incompetent asset-strippers.
      • Okay, but note that we're talking about linear infrastructure here. It's a hard problem to solve no matter who's doing it. No matter how you solve it, 1) there will be problems and 2) people hankering to solve it the other way.

    • by diegocg (1680514) on Friday December 24, 2010 @08:08PM (#34662850)

      The regulation vs deregulation discussion is stupid. There are things that need to be regulated (banks shouldn't be allowed to play casino with my money) and there are things that need to be deregulated. Good politics is about choosing wisely between them. Dumb politicians who claim that regulating/deregulating everything will solve all problems only mess everything up.

      • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

        Dumb politicians only mess everything up.

        You had some superfluous words in there, so I tidied it up for you.

    • Your solution has been tried too, in dozens of countries. It generally results in massive corruption, and such a complete lack of funds for maintenance of the electrical grid that power outages of several hours a day is the norm.

    • I wish your assumptions were true. I've lived in other countries where there was no free market and the electricity was completely regulated by the government. The results will be: 1) Less motivation to keep providing a good infrastructure (why should they if their profits are reduced?) 2) Less capable people being hired (help reduce their costs) and fewer of them 3) Everyone complaining that even what they pay is too much!!!

      We do the same thing here in the US when gas gets too expensive for our cheap ov
    • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday December 24, 2010 @09:14PM (#34663186) Homepage Journal

      After all, many other US industries have been deregulated — take, for instance, oil, natural gas, or trucking — and greater competition in those sectors swiftly brought prices down.

      Seth Blumsack, the author of that offensive lie, should be forced to read aloud the live data feed of the oil and gas market prices. For the rest of his life. Oil and gas prices have skyrocketed without regulations protecting us from speculators, supply side manipulation, and every other kind of abuse the market manipulators cook up. Trucking is a random example of an industry never properly regulated enough that is also not actually deregulated.

      But right there under lying Blumsack's byline is a cluster of pictures of Enron creating a faked energy crisis in California, because deregulation allowed it. Of course, that crisis also required Bush and his lying "free marketeers" to be running the Federal government, which is obligated to protect one state from interstate commerce abuses that damage it - which is what Texas deregulation allowed by keeping Enron's practices and books secret, even though California's deregulation required opening them.

  • Airplane tickets. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by flogger (524072) <non@nonegiven> on Friday December 24, 2010 @07:32PM (#34662632) Journal
    Yeah, Look at airplane tickets and how much they have gone down...
    Or better yet, Phone companies! My bill is as low as... Egads! It isn;t. Help!
    • Re:Airplane tickets. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Russ Nelson (33911) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Friday December 24, 2010 @07:42PM (#34662698) Homepage

      Airplane tickets are fantastically cheap relative to 30 years ago when the deregulation started. You could pay $1,000 to fly coast to coast in 1980 dollars. Now, the last time I flew it was $450 in 2010 dollars.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        A 2010 dollar is worth about 1/3 of a 1980 dollar, so tickets are actually more expensive than they used to be.

        http://www.dollartimes.com/calculators/inflation.htm

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Chris Mattern (191822)

          Wow, I can see you learned math at a public school. If tickets used to be $1000 and are now $450 in dollars that are worth a third as much then prices are only *fifteen percent* of what they once were. That's less than *one-sixth* the former price.

        • I'm glad math is your strong point, or you might come to the conclusion that the price has dropped 85%. Oh no wait, that's the right conclusion.
        • by causality (777677)

          A 2010 dollar is worth about 1/3 of a 1980 dollar, so tickets are actually more expensive than they used to be.

          http://www.dollartimes.com/calculators/inflation.htm

          I think you have that backwards. 2010 dollars are worth about 1/3 of a 1980 dollar, granted. So if you paid $1000 in 1980 and pay $1000 now, you're still paying less now because that $1000 has a lower value than it did before.

          That you're paying 45% of the previous price AND paying it with dollars that aren't worth as much means two different ways that the tickets cost less than they once did.

        • by Z34107 (925136)

          The best trolls are subtle. Well played, sir.

    • Re:Airplane tickets. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by GigsVT (208848) on Friday December 24, 2010 @07:43PM (#34662706) Journal

      Airlines are constantly bailed out by the government (including the TSA, which was a huge airline subsidy), and they are only allowed to fly routes that the government(s) allows them to fly. They are hardly a free market.

      • They're a lot more free than they used to be, and the prices are a lot lower. Do you want to see them even lower yet? Give customers more freedom to regulate.

    • by AnonGCB (1398517)

      You're obviously using the wrong service then. Not to mention the fact that Airlines are HEAVILY regulated.

      • why SHOULDN'T they be heavily regulated? Most flights take 100s of people up on a potentially dangerous trip, and there are thousands of flights a day. I sure hope someone says they have to be safe and not gamble with my life.

  • Deregulate? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    You mean like Wall Street or Enron?

  • Uhh... (Score:4, Informative)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Friday December 24, 2010 @07:36PM (#34662652)
    From TFA:

    Such arguments were compelling enough to convince two dozen or so U.S. states to deregulate their electric industries. Most began in the mid-1990s, and problems emerged soon after, most famously in the rolling blackouts that Californians suffered through in the summer of 2000 and the months that followed. At the root of these troubles is the fact that free markets can be messy and volatile, something few took into account when deregulation began. But the consequences have since proved so chaotic that a quarter of these states have now suspended plans to revamp the way they manage their electric utilities, and few (if any) additional states are rushing to jump on the deregulation bandwagon.

    Yeah, so, how about not continuing this experiment with our critical infrastructure?

    • Re:Uhh... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by causality (777677) on Friday December 24, 2010 @08:36PM (#34663010)

      From TFA:

      Such arguments were compelling enough to convince two dozen or so U.S. states to deregulate their electric industries. Most began in the mid-1990s, and problems emerged soon after, most famously in the rolling blackouts that Californians suffered through in the summer of 2000 and the months that followed. At the root of these troubles is the fact that free markets can be messy and volatile, something few took into account when deregulation began. But the consequences have since proved so chaotic that a quarter of these states have now suspended plans to revamp the way they manage their electric utilities, and few (if any) additional states are rushing to jump on the deregulation bandwagon.

      Yeah, so, how about not continuing this experiment with our critical infrastructure?

      Not to mention that a business which a) has extremely high barriers to entry and b) is inherently a monopoly was never going to have much of a "free market" to begin with. Of course trying to force it to act contrary to its nature, by fiat, is only going to create problems.

      As far as wisdom and foresight go, this is bottom-of-the-class material here.

      It's amazing that there is so much debate about this. If you take a hard look at this debate, it's the same old story every time. It just gets rehashed every now and then as though it were a new issue, as though this "debate" were covering new ground. The truth is it never moves forward. It moves in circles. Really, how hard is it to understand that natural monopolies are not fertile ground for free-market principles?

      I'm all for free markets. I want them to succeed. This one can't. The reason electrical service has higher prices, lower service, outages, and other problems when you try to treat them like free markets is because they are not free markets. You will never have an electrical free market until it becomes cheap, reliable, and cost-effective for each home to be "off the grid" and generate its own electricity. Until we come up with that kind of technology, we're going to need local monopolies to deliver electricity to us. Because monopolies are inherently abusive, they need reasonable regulation and close scrutiny.

      Please can we stop presenting this as a new and interesting issue? It's neither. It's more like an algorithm that produces the same results each time it iterates.

  • by Russ Nelson (33911) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Friday December 24, 2010 @07:40PM (#34662682) Homepage

    There are no free markets. There are only markets controlled by governments and markets controlled by customers. The markets controlled by customers work out pretty well for customers. The markets controlled by governments work out pretty well for governments and the politicians that run them and the lobbyists who fund them and the corporations who make money because the politicians control the markets in their favor.

    • by GigsVT (208848) on Friday December 24, 2010 @07:44PM (#34662718) Journal

      A free market is one controlled by customers.

      Just because the authoritarians have redefined "free market" to mean "laws to benefit corporations with government help" doesn't mean that the original concept no longer exists.

      • But my point -- that corporations are not free to do anything they want in so-called "free" markets -- remains.

      • by hedwards (940851)
        A genuine free markets can't exist for very long. That was established a really long time ago that a free market ends in a single source provider over every thing, assuming that there isn't a revolution and that the government doesn't step in to stop it from happening.

        Show me a free market in which that isn't the case and I'll show you a free market that isn't anywhere near mature.
        • by khallow (566160)

          A genuine free markets can't exist for very long. That was established a really long time ago that a free market ends in a single source provider over every thing, assuming that there isn't a revolution and that the government doesn't step in to stop it from happening.

          Show me a free market in which that isn't the case and I'll show you a free market that isn't anywhere near mature.

          This is an example of the "No True Scotsman" philosophy. I can play it too. Show me a market that is "mature" and I'll show you a market that isn't a free market.

    • by sjames (1099) on Friday December 24, 2010 @10:18PM (#34663502) Homepage

      There are also markets controlled by cartels. That's what happens when barriers to entry are high and government regulation is lax.

  • Some armchair economists (and a quite a few real ones) have long argued that the solution is deregulation.

    You mean like they did with the telecos? Or the cable companies? Or any other kind of infrastructure? I challenge anyone here that can name a deregulation of a public utility or infrastructure that has lead to increased competition in the market in question over time.

    • ITYM Linear infrastructure, which is hard to regulate whether by governments or customers. There's no magic wand.

    • by GigsVT (208848)

      The telcos are not a complete failure.

      You may be too young to know, but you used to not be allowed to own your own phone. You had to rent one from the government monopoly. It was a crime to hook an unapproved device to your telephone line.

      Deregulation allowed people to do evil unapproved things like run BBSs in their houses and hook modems up to their phone lines. It allowed rogue networks to form like sprintnet which formed the backbone for services like AOL and compuserv.

      None of this could have happen

      • Re:Suicide! (Score:5, Informative)

        by makomk (752139) on Friday December 24, 2010 @08:08PM (#34662862) Journal

        You may be too young to know, but you used to not be allowed to own your own phone. You had to rent one from the government monopoly. It was a crime to hook an unapproved device to your telephone line. Deregulation allowed people to do evil unapproved things like run BBSs in their houses and hook modems up to their phone lines.

        If you're talking about the US, that's exactly backwards. It was a breach of your contract with the telephone company - which was allowed to become a monopoly by the US government - but not a crime, and it was actually government regulation that forced the phone companies to allow you to connect phones and other devices not rented from the company.

      • None of this could have happened without deregulation of the telephone system. We wouldn't be having this conversation right now if we still have a government monopoly in telephone systems.

        It was an AT&T rule. It was a lawsuit against AT&T that allowed third party equipment to be connected to AT&T's monopoly network, while they were still a monopoly.

    • I accept your challenge:
      The Swedish market for telecommunication was deregulated during the 90's and is much cheaper with strong competition. We have at least three major parallel mobile networks covering almost all of the country. A lot of small telcos have sprung up selling "old copper". Before anyone brings up the old "yes, but you are such a small country, so it is different" argument, let me mention that we have a population the size of New York spread out over a country the size of Texas. Besides the
  • by GigsVT (208848) on Friday December 24, 2010 @07:46PM (#34662728) Journal

    The IEEE publishing a political editorial like this really discredits them as a professional organization.

    • by nbauman (624611)

      The IEEE publishing a political editorial like this really discredits them as a professional organization.

      Why?

      I think they have a right and a responsibility to take stands on public issues, because they understand the science better than the general public, and better than most politicians. Public policy is an important part of science.

      Most of the publications of professional societies publish editorials. When they think government policy is wrong, they say so, and explain why.

      I see that in Science, Nature, New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, and BMJ.

      For example, Science had lots of editorials about the Bush

  • All other services to your house - phone, cable TV, internet, can be shipped in by other means than a hard wire now. Not electricity (or gas). By definition, some monopoly must own that last mile. This is why such services should be regulated, and the regulators be knowledgeable enough to shop for competitive rates.

    • by GigsVT (208848)

      "Shop for competitive rates" implies that there is a free market, at least somewhere in your equation.

    • Two words: Public Choice. Here, let me google that for you: http://lmgtfy.com?q=Public%20Choice [lmgtfy.com]

    • by hedwards (940851)
      Why? There is at least a couple alternatives, the local municipality or you could own it. And whomever the service provider is could be required to maintain it as a part of the service agreement. I suppose it could even be a third party that you contract to maintain that bit of infrastructure.

      Just because we've made a system where the utility owns the last mile, does not mean that there aren't other ways of doing it. Some which may work better and others which work worse, but which have a different set o
  • by HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) on Friday December 24, 2010 @07:48PM (#34662744)
    About deregulation and about how my butt still hurts from the Enron assrape. I'm normally a free-market kind of guy, but I learned a lesson on this one.
    • And you would be right if it were "deregulation", but it wasn't. It was just "bad reregulation". There was never a customer-regulated market for electricity in California, so nobody can say that it failed!

  • Capitalism 102 (Score:5, Informative)

    by cowboy76Spain (815442) on Friday December 24, 2010 @07:53PM (#34662770)

    <sarcasm>I am always surprised of how easily these "neocons" forget the most basic economic concepts of the system they worship... They forget things basic concepts like ROI, entry barriers and so on, as long as forgetting them favours their dogmas.</sarcasm>

    In short, in Capitalism 101 we saw that, in a pure free market, if sector A has profits better than sector B, then inversions will flow from sector B to sector A, increasing supply until price drops, and profits in both sectors are the same.

    In Capitalism 102, we saw that, in real life, maybe building a new enterprise in sector A is not just as easy... it may require huge inversions, a big risk (if by entering the market they lower collective profits, maybe the ROI won't be positive), and outright collusions (for example, all enterprises in sector A join and tell you "if you enter into our sector, we will presure our suppliers so nobody does provide you with the materials you need if they want to do bussiness with us").

    In Campitalism 103, we all saw what happened to Enron.

    In my country, the former monopoly of telcos (Telefónica, now Movistar) still is the only supplier when you need some services in some geographical areas (not by law, but the other telcos do have wanted to get the infrastructure). Sometimes when they have lost a contract with us, they have blocked providing the service through the winner to the maximum that the law allowed them (and at least we have some law forcing them to provide the service in a limit time).

    Of course, some illuminated people will only repeat Capitalism 101 lessons while covering the ears to avoid realising what they are really saying...

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Friday December 24, 2010 @07:53PM (#34662772) Journal
    The Tragedy of the Commons. Also known as the Race to the Bottom.
  • by damburger (981828) on Friday December 24, 2010 @07:53PM (#34662774)

    ...a market for electricity will ensure nobody goes without electricity, presumably by the same process by which a housing market ensures nobody is homeless and an international food market has caused an end to world hunger.

    The ideologues are back with a vengeance. After all that has happened, after the finance system collapsed (and showed that it wasn't really made of anything substantial in the first place) how can anyone still listen to market fundamentalists?

  • by 10am-bedtime (11106) on Friday December 24, 2010 @08:07PM (#34662848)

    WTF, 1.5 months after the U.S. change of guard and we're already recycling Enron?

  • Bad call. Trust me. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 6Yankee (597075) on Friday December 24, 2010 @08:08PM (#34662858)

    For a couple of years, I worked in the UK electricity industry, which was at least partially deregulated in 1998. People look at me funny when I say I've got candles and tinned food stashed away, but I expect every winter to be the one where it all comes crashing down.

    A big part of the problem, at least for us poor schlubs charged with getting the billing right, was that all these deregulated entities keep getting bought and sold. And every time they do that, there's a data migration, which almost invariably gets screwed up. Bad data piles on bad data on bad data, with fixes promised but never delivered in time for the next buyout. One region in particular had one standard evening/weekend meter set-up and no fewer than four different versions of that reality in their database. The net effect was to flip their predicted e/w usage pattern upside down. That usage pattern is what gets fed into the National Grid computers for demand forecasting. See where this is going?

    I'm told that the larger "half-hourly" stuff is in somewhat better shape, which is probably why the whole thing's held together so far. But if what I saw was what you can expect from a deregulated energy industry, I'd say there's good reason to be afraid...

    • by xaxa (988988)

      I don't know any other system, at the UK one at least has the various electricity companies competing with each other pretty well. I see lots of advert for other companies, and bad press coverage when one provider lags behind with a decrease in cost.

  • by gethoht (757871) on Friday December 24, 2010 @08:12PM (#34662880)
    Just look at all the "innovation" that companies like Enron brought to a deregulated energy market! Let's ask California how well that worked out for the average consumer. While we're at it we can look at deregulatory laws like the Commodity Futures Modernization Act and the repeal of Glass-Steagal that enabled such "innovation". The "free market" for oil is now run by speculators who can buy and sell contracts for millions of barrels of oil but never have to take delivery, creating false demand and squeezing millions of dollars a day from average americans as they have to pay over $3.00/gal to fuel their vehicles. What else has deregulation done? How about all those nasty little unregulated derivatives such as MBS(mortgage backed securities) that imploded the world economy? That's financial "innovation" like the world had never seen before. All thanks to deregulation, yay!
    • by khallow (566160)

      Just look at all the "innovation" that companies like Enron brought to a deregulated energy market! Let's ask California how well that worked out for the average consumer. While we're at it we can look at deregulatory laws like the Commodity Futures Modernization Act and the repeal of Glass-Steagal that enabled such "innovation". The "free market" for oil is now run by speculators who can buy and sell contracts for millions of barrels of oil but never have to take delivery, creating false demand and squeezing millions of dollars a day from average americans as they have to pay over $3.00/gal to fuel their vehicles. What else has deregulation done? How about all those nasty little unregulated derivatives such as MBS(mortgage backed securities) that imploded the world economy? That's financial "innovation" like the world had never seen before. All thanks to deregulation, yay!

      The California electricity market wasn't completely deregulated. And the residual government power is what caused brownouts and bankrupt electricity providers to Enron's benefit.

      Second, claiming that speculators are responsible for the slightly elevated price of oil (adjust for inflation [inflationdata.com]) is just a demonstration of your ignorance of the oil markets. Where in the world do you think that oil goes? If I speculate and buy a million barrels of oil, then that oil has to go somewhere. Either I have to pay someo

  • by geek (5680) on Friday December 24, 2010 @08:17PM (#34662914) Homepage

    For the same reason "life isn't fair"

    As long as 1% of the total population controls 90% of the wealth, there is no such thing as competition or free market capitalism.

    I like competition and I dislike government intrusion but there is a reason FOR government and that is to protect it's citizens, that includes protection from economic crimes as well as physical ones.

    The middle class is shrinking regardless of which ideology is popular that month. People are losing their homes left and right, jobs are going over seas and yet still so many people are ignorant to the real issues.

    Deregulating natural monopolies doesn't solve the problem. It just hands a blank check to a corporation chosen by the government to fuck it's customers however it chooses.

    Free market is an oxymoron to anyone that actually understands what the two words mean.

  • There are good and bad regulations. The SOX/NOX cap and trade regulations as part of the clean air act were good regulations. The goal wasn't to reduce prices so much as make sure that our air didn't have so much Sulfur Oxides in it to make rain as "acidic as vinegar." Subsidies are bad. NIMBY regulations that obstruct wind farms, nuclear plants, recycling etc. are bad. The problem is entirely about which regulations are useful not necessarily the quantity. If regulations go far beyond what is useful

  • Look at how things are going for Nova Scotia, Canada. I'll give you a hint. Not good.
  • ... doesn't understand that technological advancement has limits, you cannot infinitely drive the cost of something down towards zero and you can't count on the universe to have some unknown undiscovered technology just waiting in the wings.

    In the physical universe processes take scientifically measurable amounts of time, resources and computation to complete.

    This cult of the market always forgets that natural law trumps ideology.

  • Uh.

    Right.

    Electricity prices for commercial usage in California is what? 27cents/kwh? And it's what... FIVE CENTS per kwh in Quebec?

    Sure.... SUUUUURE... that's all due to regulation, or infrastructure, or reliability. Suuuure.

    Sorry for the MASSIVE sarcasm, but frankly -- have you seen how large/complex Quebec's infrastructure is?

    The real difference in costs here, is the cost of the power source. Hydro in Quebec's case, or the fact that California buys so much of its power from out of state ....

  • There ain't never been a free market. There ain't never gonna be a free market.

    Power, water, sewer, transportation and communications will be monopolies. The question is whether they'll be regulated or not. If not, consumers will get reamed.

  • by Derosian (943622) on Friday December 24, 2010 @10:36PM (#34663578) Homepage Journal
    Before replying in this thread you must have at least taken a Microeconomics or a Macroeconomics university level course.

    I wish!
  • by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Friday December 24, 2010 @11:59PM (#34663854)

    It doesn't matter what course you choose to take. If you leave the psychopaths in positions of power, then whatever system is used will only lead to further misery.

    These problems can only be solved by the recognizing and removal of non-humans. I'd start at the banking level, remove the psychopaths from that system, undo usery, and then work down.

    If the ability to experience empathy is a pre-requisite before one can be considered human, then Psychopaths are not human. They are a predator population which has embedded itself at the highest levels of power and social control. If you want to treat them kindly, then that's fine, but whatever happens, they need to be removed from their positions or we will continue to live in a state of war, poverty and misery.

    -FL

It seems that more and more mathematicians are using a new, high level language named "research student".

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