Monday, 21 August 2006

Privatisation of utilities

Following on from blog a few weeks ago, I thought about other one-time nationalised industries. Electricity, gas, coal. I.e. Power supplies. Everyone in the UK is being exhorted to conserve energy by the government (as well as Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and every environmentalist under the sun). Public awareness of the issues concerning energy from non-renewable natural resources is now almost certainly higher than at any time in the past. Even awareness about the complexities surrounding so-called renewables such as wind-power are more widely understood.

But call me thick, when energy supplies are privatised, and owned by profit making companies, the companies have primary responsibilities to their shareholders, and they have a legal responsibility to return a profit. In order to make a profit they have to sell energy, and since they are in competition with other companies selling the same or similar products, the principal way they can increase profits is by selling more of their product. They can of course increase 'efficiency' whatever that means, but ultimately, to maintain profits, they have to sell more of the product. Which of course is in direct conflict with the objectives of conserving energy. The same of course applies to petrol and diesel for cars.

The advocates of free markets will of course argue that it's all to do with market share, but I am not convinced. The evidence is surely to be found in trade statistics, and also to be found in the philosophies of economists and politicians. Since most countries seem to be driven by the apparent 'need' for expanding economies, they have also based this concept on the 'need' for expanding populations. Of course the only people who actually need these, are those obsessed with making ever increasing profits (i.e big businesses and politicians controlled by them). For centuries economies were based on the overall majority of businesses being small, and sustainable, with huge groupings of population being largely self-sufficient.

I deduce from this that the only realistic way that a country like Britain is ever going to reduce its demands for energy and other non-renewable resources, yet still maintain its expected standards of living, is to have a declining population. Comments on a postcard, email, etc.

No comments:

Post a Comment