Socialize My Electricity!
I’m mostly writing this because it’s an idea I’ve had off and on since I was around ten. You see, my mother works for the Electric company, and every year at my school they would send home a little letter that parents had to fill out if they were federal employees. I always wondered why she never sent them back. She sweetly explained to me that it was because she didn’t work for the government. This, frankly, confused me and still confuses me to this day.
The original hang-up was something along the lines of “Well…the water company belongs to the city…why isn’t the electric company government too?” (keep in mind I was around the age of 10). As…simplified as that reasoning is, it’s still a good argument when you think into it. The city owns/is the water company purely because it is necessary for the water company to manage the ground under the ENTIRE city for the pipes, lines, sewers, etc. It would only make sense that a company which needs access to the entire country for running lines, etc would need the same. HOWEVER, the problem lies in that it is not one company, it is several, each responsible for their own little part of the city’s power grid.
In smaller cities and towns, that works just fine. One or two companies provide power for the entire city. You might ask “Well what’s the problem with that? It’s competition and that’s the American way!” The “problem with that” is that it is NOT competition. Those one or two companies truthfully have a monopoly over that city/town with little to no struggle between the two for more customers. You might think that the problem would resolve itself when you get to a bigger city with more electric companies. Not necessarily. In fact, usually each company has dominion over its own sections of each city with little to no push and pull in between. It’s almost more stagnant than the small town scenario. Competition in this area just DOES NOT EXIST. Think about it. When was the last time you heard of an “upstart” electric company? Go and look into the history of your local provider. I almost guarantee that their history stretches back to the first time electricity came to the area. Even if the original company was bought out by some rich guy that had enough money to make the original owner bow out, it’s still technically the same company, albeit under a different name and possibly different management. There was no setup phase, they simply cut and pasted the existing service from one owner to another and sent their customers letters that said “We own your power now, if you don’t like it live in the dark.”
Which brings me to my next point. Electricity is no longer a simple luxury. In many parts of the country, if you don’t have electricity you could very easily die. And no, that is not an overstatement. In some parts of…say Alaska, if you don’t have some form of Electricity or a DAMN good insulation system (and/or another form of heat) you die of hypothermia and/or frostbite. In, lets say southern Texas, if you don’t have air conditioning or, once again a DAMN good insulation system (and/or other form of cooling) you die of heatstroke or some other heat related condition. While, granted, you can buy (or build) a generator and get your own electricity, but that takes money (or technological know-how) that most people these days just don’t have. Think about it. Do you want to trust some corporation who only cares about how much money their shareholders pulled in that month with your LIFE?
However, let us put aside the downsides of the current system for now. Let’s talk about my suggestion. If you haven’t guessed by now, my suggestion is that the Federal Government buy every. single. electric company in the country. Yes, I said all of them. Why? Just look up. Also, a single-provider energy system would allow for a decrease in prices. And, unlike with the current healthcare debate, there is not a “quality decrease” to worry about. Why? Because it’s electricity. It doesn’t come in qualities. It comes in “on” or “off”.
By now you’re probably asking how a single-provider system lowers prices if there is no competition between the companies to begin with. Oh it’s quite simple really. You see, electric companies may not compete much, but the providers of their raw materials do. However, with a national electricity provider, the proverbial net can be cast wider, finding prices that are lower for the raw materials they need, not to mention the several generators that are already owned by the federal government (dams, etc) with their energy output sold to the highest bidder would be turned to direct use. And just think how losing that need to buy electricity in a bidding environment would lower your prices.
Now, on to current events, the economy. I’m hoping that I’ve painted a sufficient picture of how this process should work, the government contracting raw material providers to supply them with what they need to keep their generators running. Think about that for a moment. What do you think something like that would do for our economy? Raw material providers with direct reliable government contracts. For the slower members of the class, that would cause the providers to hire more people, which in turn would decrease the unemployment (obviously), thereby putting our economy on the fast track to recovery.
On that note, as you all are probably sufficiently aware by now, the United States government is HEMORRHAGING money. What do you think that acquiring a business that is guaranteed a profit due to non competition will do to that income gap? Once again, it would simply be a step in the right direction, not a complete solution. The complete solution requires other efforts that are far too complicated for me to fully understand, let alone explain in a blog post.
Lets see…what else haven’t I covered? Oh yes. Green energy. As I mentioned before, currently electric companies are corporations who are only concerned with how much money goes in their pocket book. As a result, the conversion of Electricity to green energy has been…shall we say slow? However, with a single system owned by a single entity (the US government, if you’d forgotten) that policy could do a 180. The government, while yes is concerned with how much money this would make it, would be more concerned with sustainability and how well it takes care of their citizens (granted, more for political reasons than genuine caring). Do you think, with control of the entire nation’s power grid, that they would allow non-renewable energy to continue as a general policy? I don’t. You may be asking, “Well, what about the raw material providers you JUST mentioned?” Well that’s the beauty of it. You still need raw materials to build wind turbines, etc. And once they’re done you still need some to maintain them, albeit fewer. By that point, cost to create electricity on the national scale would be at a record low and the government would be making a major profit on the industry which it could then turn toward repairing and upgrading our failing infrastructure system which will find new work for most (if not all) of those who would be displaced by the sudden stop of need for raw materials. Also the new need for people to maintain the green power grid would pick up more of the unemployment problem.
So really, unless I missed something, the only real question is…can we afford NOT to socialize our energy grid?