Power to Live, Controlled By The Government

One of the sickest parts of the “Power Bill” saga is those who are using this woman’s death to call for government control of the power system.

“This is a terrible personal tragedy, but at its root is a political cause – this is a direct result of the free market system in electricity where company profits now overrule basic civilized behavior.”

How sick is that!

It’s sick because Mercury is government controlled.

That’s right, Mercury is 100% owned by the Labour socialist cabinet. (Not “us” as certain TV personalities have been saying. Ever been invited to a shareholder meeting?)

Mercury did what every other company out there is doing. They sell electricity to large numbers of people for just slightly more than they buy or generate it for, pay their costs out of the difference and put some aside for building future infrastructure.

We know what happens when you run anything and don’t worry about making a profit. You loose large amounts of money unnecessarily. If the drive to make a profit is not there, people suffer through inefficiency. Inefficiency that costs us in terms of higher prices.

One of the ways any company can be inefficient and drive up prices is excess accounts payable.

Now, we all know what happens when someone owes you money. They’ll have it tomorrow, it’s in their other pants, their mother is in hospital. Any excuse will do. Any lie will do. Unfortunately when you are dealing with strangers as companies must, it is hard to know what is a lie and what is not.

As the family tried to get the electricity reconnected after their mother died, they called the electricity company. Now, the electricity company has stated that they understood there was to be a funeral in the house, and that that was not sufficient cause to have power reconnected.

This outraged John Campbell, but all things considered above, it should not. (What should have outraged him is the company lying about being told it was a funeral.) Again, if the company listened to every excuse they would go belly up in no time, just like any other.

Likewise for the guy turning off the electricity. He disconnected first, and asked questions later. He’d most likely heard every excuse in the book, and had seen what people do when they really need it.

Commentators again have complained about Mercury’s policy, where a medical letter must be supplied to gain protected status, but again, that’s to stop someone sticking a tube up their nose and running a scam on that way. It’s not hard to get a letter and send it. I bet the family didn’t pay full price for parking at Middlemoore, and I bet getting that discount was harder than getting the hospital to send a letter.

The difference was thinking ahead. When that guy walked in the gate, it appears it was too late. Yes, it should not have been, but sadly it was. The company had to make a profit, and the application to sit outside this requirement had not been made. For all this guy knew, he was being scammed at worst, or at best the family was stretching the truth.

(Before we leave the guy alone, let’s dwell on an irony here. If he had been a medical professional like so many are sarcastically suggesting he should have been, he would have known how critical the equipment was and still turned off the power. He would have advised them to go to the hospital if their mother felt ill, but above all, to call the hospital and have them fax a letter to the company. The power would have been on again, the company would have been red-faced, and everyone would have been happy. He might even have told them to get a power cable to next door or call an ambulance if things got bad. He might even have suggested they call the media if the fax did not get the power back on. But one thing he would not have done is reconnected the power.)

So we see that it is necessary to have a profit making electricity company, how easy it is to loose money through accounts unpaid, and how the families protestations might have been seen for excuses. But why not have one state owned company that strives hard to make a profit?

Let’s say there was only one company. Let’s say something like this happened, but no one cared due to whatever reason. Where does that family go for electricity? As the story breaks, where does anyone else go?

See, under competition, a company can be punished by having people leave it. If this gets bad, the company had a real problem as it’s fixed costs can no longer be sustained, let alone the profit lost by having fewer customers. Watch Fair Go and see how quickly companies roll over when they’re in the wrong and a little publicity is thrown in.

So don’t tell me that we should return to the bad old days of a state monopoly. We all know that would lead to more situations like this one. It would be like saying “the prisons are full with criminals, so let’s let them out”.

In short, it would be utter stupidity.

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