I hope to god one of the candidates in the recall brings these support numbers up in an ad or something. How can he honestly stand up there and call this a right-wing powergrab when 40% of Democrats support it. I've never seen a more horrible speech in my life than what I saw tonight. Just to pick out a few parts of his speech:
--Passing legislation to stop the increases in workers' comp is not enough. That's like filling the holes in a sinking ship when it's already underwater.
--How obnoxious was that crowd? Did they take a random sampling of Pacifica radio's listenership and stuff them into UCLA?
--The cheap stuff about Republicans trying to overturn elections is absurd. What about the senate race in New Jersey last November?
--He tried to blame the energy crisis on deregulation of all things, but in reality, we had 2 price surges back at the time: Electricity and Gas. Government interfered with electricity, it didn't interfere with gas. As a result, gas prices eventually settled back down (due to numerous factors), but electricity never came back down because government got involved. For the numbers and stuff, I post this columnby Tom Mcclintock, a guy that has no chance in hell of winning the recall, but will still get my vote:
------------------------------------------------------- The wholesale price of electricity has plunged 95 percent from its highs earlier this year, while most electricity rates have simultaneously shot up 40 percent. Whatís wrong with this picture? Government tried to help. When electricity prices surged last year, Gov. Davis decided to shield consumers from the temporary price spike by subsidizing their rates, first with utility company capital and when that ran out, with tax money. This pushed the stateís major utilities to the verge of bankruptcy and then ate a gigantic hole in the state treasury.
Fortunately, the Governor didnít lift a finger to help us with natural gas prices, which spiked at the same time. As a result, heating bills went through the roof, consumers turned down their thermostats, the higher prices uncorked transmission bottlenecks and attracted additional supplies, and gas rates quickly settled back down. Not so with electricity.
By subsidizing electricity prices at their peak, the Governor prolonged the price spike by directly underwriting it. This put the stateís finances into a fiscal death spiral that Davis could only exit by signing long-term contracts at prices well above what they would otherwise have settled down to if simply left alone. As a result, the state now owns $43 billion of electricity contracts costing roughly $70 per megawatt-hour in a $30 market.
Now letís add up the cost of all this ďhelp.Ē To recover utility losses, the administration has just bailed out Southern California Edison with $3 billion of ratepayer money, adding $750 to an average customerís future bills. To replenish state coffers, Davis is attempting to borrow up to $13.4 billion which, with interest, would tack an additional $2,000 to an average customerís payments over the life of the bond. In addition, the long-term contracts more than double the price that consumers should be paying, and will for years to come.
What can be done?
First, the contracts should be challenged. A court has already ruled that the Davis administration illegally negotiated them in secrecy, in direct violation of state law. And it turns out that while the Governor was locking consumers into ridiculously high prices, key administration officials advising him were also on utility payrolls or holding stocks in the companies they were negotiating with.
The Attorney General is paid to act as a consumer watchdog but has instead become an administration lapdog. Private organizations have stepped into the breach to challenge the contracts, but they are no match for the legal resources of the companies they must battle. The Attorney General should do his job.
Failing this, the legislature should restore consumersí freedom to decline these obscene prices by shopping around for the lowest-priced electricity available.
Recently in Texas, for example, NewPower Company offered consumers $672 in savings if they simply picked up the phone and shifted their electricity business away from a competitor. Eighty thousand Texans did.
Californians had the same freedom when this governor took office. He took it from them because he needed a captive market in which to recoup all the costs his blunders caused.
So while competing power companies woo Texans with bargain-basement offers, Californians are held hostage to crushing rates created by their own government, with no escape but to leave California or to drop dead.
True, if consumers escaped this Soviet-style power gulag for the freedom of the open market, the state treasury would lose the difference, but that money has already been lost. The only question is whether it is recouped by sky-high electricity bills for decades to come, or some governmental belt-tightening now.
Restoring consumersí freedom to chose would arm them with the most powerful consumer weapon of all: the ability to take their business elsewhere. If government really wants to help, it could start by getting out of the way.
It's amazing that the people we elect sometimes are so clueless to the way the markets work. Something similar happened in Ontario last year.
The Conservative government has been privatizing government services in a number of areas, including electricity. So the grid goes private and what happens? Prices go up. Big surprise. Well, apparently that was a big surprise to some people in power, so last fall Premier Ernie Eves decides he's going to put in a price cap in the electricity market until, I think, 2005. Naturally, as Eves has no idea of an economic timetable (this trend continues), he puts the cap in effect immediately, with essentially no notice.
What happened was local providers were permitted to continue charging what they had planned to charge for a couple extra months, but just after the new year they were forced to go back, calculate, and refund what customers had been "overcharged", retroactive to several months PRIOR to the cap going in place. Customers were all sent a flat refund cheque just after the new year, and whatever else they were owed came later. But, since everyone was entitled to the basic refund as a result of it taking forever to calculate the overcharge, some customers like myself were actually over-refunded in the end. Some local providers were screwed financially for a good while at the start of the year.
Anyhow, it's nearly a year later, and what's happened? Nothing. Not a damn thing has happened in the electricity market, meaning that in a couple years the government, whoever it is by then, will probably just extend the price cap, or even lower it if we're stuck with a Liberal or NDP government. The idea behind a privatized market is that prices will be high in the short term, but eventually those higher prices attract more providers and prices come down. Low prices don't attract a damn thing.
It's almost as if no one in government understands long run economics...which is just another reason why government shouldn't meddle where the private sector can succeed.
Davis calling it a "right-wing power grab" is just a natural extension of his political career. All about him, all about consolidating his power, and anybody who affronts him is worse than evil....which probalby explains the 40% of Democrats and 44% of Liberals regardless of affiliation that will vote to punt him.
(edited by Grimis on 20.8.03 0708) "Each time I've met Huffington, I wondered if she was not somehow the long-lost daughter of Madame Nicolai Ceaucescu, or a genetic cross between Martha Stewart and Count Dracula. Had this Greek-born harpy lived in medieval times, she would have been sewn up in a bag with a rooster and two snakes and thrown into the nearest river." -- Eric Margolis, Toronto Star