Deregulation of utilities leads down to darkness.

Deregulation is a huge goal of neoliberals. Freeing corporations from oversight was always a neoliberal goal during the neoliberal ideological period which started after WWII and continues today. Neoliberalism has advanced gradually since then. Richard A. Posner in 1999, wrote about four industries where deregulation happened in “The Effects of Regulation on Competition: the Experience of the United States.” At first, after deregulation, it seemed that business was improved because profits seemed to grow. According to Posner, we have seen the deregulation of 4 industries including banking, transportation, communication, and energy. After deregulation, PG&E made huge payouts to executives and to stock holders and they neglected to maintain the utility itself. And this pattern can be seen in all of the industries affected by deregulation. Privatize gains and push the inevitable costs and consequences of failure onto the public; that’s the goal of these policies.
Not maintaining the PG&E utility is not predicted by neoliberal theory under the “Efficient Market Hypothesis,” which imagines that a CEO would do the opposite–that he or she would protect the company’s resources instead of converting them to capital that is soon spent. By way of contrast, the “Principle Agent Problem” says that CEOs can and do choose to maximize their own financial rewards instead of putting financial resources back into keeping a company healthy.
In PG&E there has been less utility maintenance, or utility improvement. Fires have happened because there has been an absence of landscape maintenance at the power lines. PG&E’s solution hasn’t been the costly one of returning to proper maintenance or improving the landscape and power lines but instead PG&E cut people’s power. California, a technology rich state, the state that once got American innovations before any other state did, has surprised everyone with its many darkened homes and people living without power for days at a time. And California’s electricity costs more than it used to. Californians have paid huge increases in the price of electricity and yet they are living under blackouts. Fires are consuming their homes.
Where did the money go and can Californians get it back? Can they get the utility’s reliability that they once enjoyed in the current policy environment of deregulation? I think that they can’t. They are experiencing a system-wide problem because of deregulation.
Even though PG&E has been fined and has declared bankruptcy, PG&E’s goal isn’t protecting or improving the public resource. Instead, PG&E’s resources have been frittered away. Why should Californians pay even more now? Because the neoliberal plan is to privatize gains and make the public pay for losses. If you don’t like this way of running the country, then you should understand that as long as neoliberalism continues, it will often go exactly this way. The partnership between government and industry is corrupt and empowers the most powerful while giving the costs to the least powerful people who are being robbed. The deregulation of industries that matter a great deal to everyone leaves most Americans in the cold and in the dark.
If you care about these issues, the issues of harm that confront all of us, buy a copy of Political Catsup with Economy Fries, for sale now at Amazon.com.