Shock horror over the NHS!

David Cameron meets some radicals!

It says a hugely slimmed down NHS should remain only as a \”last resort\” provider for those who cannot afford private health care. The vast majority of people would get care through insurance schemes or simply pay themselves.

It also calls for controversial \”top-up\” care to be brought in now, so that people currently using the NHS can pay extra to get better treatment, drugs and services if they have the money.

Jeepers! How dare they!

Advocating something like the French health care system, routinely announced by the WHO to be the best in the world.

What is the world coming to?

25 comments on “Shock horror over the NHS!

  1. It is astonishing that these people get access to important people.

    If you want to know what the world is coming to, it’s that people like these bandy about the word ‘Soviet’ as if they had the slightest clue about the horror that lies behind it; and that under the Conservatives, the UK, the only country in the world ever to have had a counter-revoultion without a preceding revolution, is still going to be run on the basis that its elites cannot suffer the idea that the people own anything in common, and that everything that was once commonly owned must be wrenched away from the peoples’ control and turned over to private profit.

    Before privatisation, the utilities had never been in private control; they were not ‘nationalised’ industries, but national industries. My memory of energy being supplied by the government is quite acute – the lights went on when you turned the switch just as surely as they have under private control. This is entirely to be expected – the operation of the laws of physics and electrical engineering are both vastly more important to the provision of electricity than any ideology. The only thing that ideology can bring to the equation is who you pay for it. Our counter revolutionaries could not stand the idea that the people could actually have a stake and, in consequence, a say, in how their energy is produced, so their say was taken from them. Neither Smith, nor Hayek, nor Friedman could make the electricity flow more efficiently than it did before – but it was their ideas that won.

    If there is such a thing as a market in water, why can’t I have one set of taps on my bathroom sink for every water supplier? The reason is straightforward; such a system would be grossly inefficient. But hey, if we only had one set of taps under public control of water and can only have one set of taps under private control of water, how can private control of the water supply be more efficient than public? Er, dunno; ask an econmist. Water is a commodity which cannot even be said to be consumed; if it were, there would be no need for plugholes. What goes through the tap almost always goes straight down the plughole and back into the system. How can there possibly be a market for this commodity? Where are the mines it has been dug out of? Or the factories where it’s been made?

    But the same braindead, bollock chewing logic that gave us utility privatisation will be applied to the NHS. Myths and lies will be told about efficiency, while all the while the pressure groups and consultancies will be at the heart of the matter, raking in fees and doing very well out of it. And the ultimate absurdity of it is this.

    If you want French style healthcare, you should have a French style economy. Let’s see if Cameron has the guts to go for that.

    One of Eric Hobsbawm’s more perceptive comments was that class war is always waged very much more violenty from above than from below – such meetings as these are the proof of his assertion.

  2. Martin:

    1) the state is not the people

    2) a public company quoted on a stock exchange is also owned by people in common but we capitalists do not have anything against that (on the contrary)

    3) “The only thing that ideology can bring to the equation is who you pay for it. ”

    False, also how much you pay for it, the level of emissions, the efficiency of the provision, etc, etc

    4) “could not stand the idea that the people could actually have a stake and, in consequence, a say, in how their energy is produced, so their say was taken from them.”

    Choosing a supplier that produces energy in a certain way does not qualify as having a say does it?

    5) “But hey, if we only had one set of taps under public control of water and can only have one set of taps under private control of water, how can private control of the water supply be more efficient than public?”

    You own your taps, not the public.

    6) “What goes through the tap almost always goes straight down the plughole and back into the system. How can there possibly be a market for this commodity? Where are the mines it has been dug out of? Or the factories where it’s been made?”

    Water does not simply exist in the system, it needs to be extracted and purified – no real difference to how minerals and metals are extracted from the ground is there? Both involve extracting a raw material and then performing some operations on it to bring it to a quality that can be delivered to clients.

  3. Martin: “Our counter revolutionaries could not stand the idea that the people could actually have a stake and, in consequence, a say, in how their energy is produced, so their say was taken from them.”

    That might make for a good soundbite, but it’s the complete opposite of the truth.

    An interesting contrast is the following statement made on the website of Ecotricity:

    “The other thing that not many people realise is that we can now all choose who supplies our electricity, and therefore how it’s made, so wherever you live in the country you can actually choose to have your home or business supplied by clean energy.”

    With a free market in energy, I have the final say over how the energy I use is produced. With a nationalised industry, I have it dictated to me be the political elite.

  4. “Before privatisation, the utilities had never been in private control; they were not ‘nationalised’ industries, but national industries.” Oh bollocks. The early electricity companies were private. The early gas companies were usually owned by the local authorities – all swept away by the ’45 government, which was also the government that nationalised the hospitals, previously all local, being owned either by local authorities or local charities.

    “everything that was once commonly owned must be wrenched away from the peoples’ control and turned over to private profit” – I defy you to tell me in what sense I had any ownership rights in, say, the CEGB.

  5. Tim – the system described in your quotes (state healthcare as system of last resort, with those who can afford private insurance or private treatment buying them) has absolutely nothing in common with the French system.

    97% of French practitioners (both at GP and hospital levels) are conventioné, meaning that they adhere to a pricing tariff laid down by the state, under which 70% of their bills are reimbursed by the state.

    Many French people do, and many French people don’t, buy insurance to cover the 30% gap. If you’re very poor, then the government provides insurance to cover the 30%.

    That has nothing in common with a system where nearly everyone goes private, except for the very poor who receive treatment in a rump NHS.

  6. ” My memory of energy being supplied by the government is quite acute – the lights went on when you turned the switch just as surely as they have under private control.”

    My memory of energy being supplied by the Government is quite acute: the lights went out. Regularly. Very annoying in a supermarket where you had to simply drop two hours worth of shopping and leave. Particularly annoying for the supermarket too, with all the spoilage.

    If you like living in the socialist nirvana that was 1970s Britain then fuck off to Scotland and be governed by closet Marxists. Don’t impose your foul creed on the rest of us.

  7. An, yes, they don’t like it up them!

    Emil –

    ‘The state is not the people ‘ – WTF? Huh?

    ‘2) a public company quoted on a stock exchange is also owned by people in common but we capitalists do not have anything against that (on the contrary)’

    Again, WTF? We’re in non sequitur city here. Nobody knows where the blue whale’s mating grounds are. I always have to take the bus to work, but sometimes I get a lift home. The grouse season ends on 10th December. All these non sequiturs make as much sense, and are about as relevant to anything I wrote, as that comment.

    ‘3) “The only thing that ideology can bring to the equation is who you pay for it. ”

    False, also how much you pay for it, the level of emissions, the efficiency of the provision, etc, ‘etc – ”

    I’m afraid that declaration of falsehood is false. Ideologically pure, of course, but a lot of shite. If it were true, we wouldn’t have Ofgem, because they say when price rises happen.

    “4) “could not stand the idea that the people could actually have a stake and, in consequence, a say, in how their energy is produced, so their say was taken from them.”

    Choosing a supplier that produces energy in a certain way does not qualify as having a say does it?’

    Does anyone really care how it’s produced just as long as the lights go on? Really, who gives a monkey’s toss?

    ‘5) “But hey, if we only had one set of taps under public control of water and can only have one set of taps under private control of water, how can private control of the water supply be more efficient than public?”

    You own your taps, not the public.’

    Ah, another non sequitur. I’ll match that one and raise you – we stayed at home for Christmas Day this year, but went to my brother’s yesterday. Tell you what you don’t own, though – you don’t own your water meter, if you have one, and you certainly won’t own your electricity meter, for which you might just pay a standing charge for having in your house. You cannot elect not to have one. You cannot go to B & Q and buy your own. Under the market system, don’t you think that having to pay a standing charge for the meter without which you cannot exercise your market rights as a consumer is not unlike a supermarket demanding that you pay for the privilege of being able to cross its doors even before you buy your shopping?

    ‘6) “What goes through the tap almost always goes straight down the plughole and back into the system. How can there possibly be a market for this commodity? Where are the mines it has been dug out of? Or the factories where it’s been made?”

    Water does not simply exist in the system, it needs to be extracted and purified – no real difference to how minerals and metals are extracted from the ground is there? Both involve extracting a raw material and then performing some operations on it to bring it to a quality that can be delivered to clients.’

    Except of course that the minerals and materials end up going into something – unlike water, which ends up going back into the system. Next!

    Paul Lockett –

    “With a free market in energy, I have the final say over how the energy I use is produced. With a nationalised industry, I have it dictated to me be the political elite.”

    Ah, we can now have organic gas and free range electricity! Everything up to now’s been the warm up – time for the main event.

    Let us agree that there is such a thing as a market in bread – not even I’m that anti-capitalist. If you go into Tesco, you can buy a white loaf, a brown loaf, stoneground or wholemeal – agreed? Agreed.

    Now, if you go into Tesco and ask the nearest assistant for a loaf of wholemeal electricity, or a tin of stoneground gas, they will look at you as if you were insane; and quite rightly so. For about, oh, 99.99999% of people who use gas and/or electricity at home, they will be using the same substances flowing down the same pipes and wires through the same grid from the same power stations regardless of whether they are paying ACorp or BPower for it. Its essence is the same. IT’S ALL THE SAME STUFF! There are no White Meter 1 naan breads, nor Economy 7 ciabattas. At all times and under all cicumstances, it’s the same stuff. That there is a market in the production and distribution of the same stuff is a legal fiction. See the reference to ‘Ofgem’ above. Next!

    Ah, yes, here comes ‘Dearieme’, who if he is who I think he is either is or was a public sector employee in the most secure of occupations whose wages I pay or paid and with whose opinions I am assailed, regardless of how ignorant or stupid they might be-

    “Oh bollocks” And bollocks to you as well, beardy. Merry Christmas.

    “The early electricity companies were private.” –
    Your evidence, puh-leese! Next! What? Oh, yeah, you mean the expansion of hydro power in Scotland during WWII under the direction of Tom Johnson? While he was Secretary of Scotland? Those private electricity companies?

    Next!

    “The early gas companies were usually owned by the local authorities – all swept away by the ‘45 government” – now we’re really talking bollocks! We’re talking whoppers the size of the Southern Wright Whale’s here! If ‘Dearieme’ ever read history, particularly ‘Victorian Cities’ by Asa Briggs, he would have known that the municipal gas companies were originally private, and were being taken into municipal control from at least the 1870’s. Now, what did those municipal authorities know about the importance of secure gas provision which we didn’t? Eureka! It was that energy supply is a common good which operates at its optimum efficiency when operated as a common good! But no, we know better – or rather, the more moronic ideologues of your generation thought they knew better.

    Next! Oh, heck, it’s KayTie. This won’t take long.

    “My memory of energy being supplied by the Government is quite acute: the lights went out. Regularly”

    zzzzz….this was…likely to have been…zzzz….the result…zzzz…of…zzz…industrial action…rather than….zzzz….the influence…of…zzzz…economic…zzz…theory…on…zzz…either physics…or…zzz…electrical engineering..and…the fact that…you lost a pound of Jersey Royals…zzz…due to spoliage…does not really…justify…zzz…trying to pretend that something…is true…which isn’t true…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

    Incidentally, up to now I’d thought you were a young oaf; thank you for outing yourself as an old one. The depth of your oafishness is indicated by your suggestion that I ‘fuck off to Scotland’. Tim, will you tell her, or will I?

  8. Martin:

    1) The state is an (hopefully) elected representative of the people, it is not the people

    2) You claimed that “its elites cannot suffer the idea that the people own anything in common”, I proved that this claim was wrong by pointing to the fact this elite likes that people own stuff in common through the stock exchange. A lot more relevant than any talk about whales

    3) Competition does foster innovation, diversification and price wars, anyone claiming otherwise is either blind, ignorant, stupid or evil

    4) First you claim that people should be able to decide, then you claim that they don’t need to because no one cares, not very coherent are you?

    5) banks and credit card issuers charge you fees in advance for the use of their platforms. They reality is that a lot of folks ask you to pay in advance for the use of their products.

    6) minerals and metals also go back into the system or the ground depending on whether they are recycled or thrown away

  9. “It was that energy supply is a common good which operates at its optimum efficiency when operated as a common good!”
    I assume the term “common good” infers State-municipal, national, whatever-ownership and operation? If so, after 40 years of electric utility experiance in much of the world, I can say that is a moronic statement.

  10. So, you accept that the ’45 government nationalised the local authorities’ gas works? The only electricity company you can think of that started as government-owned was the very non-early NSHEB? You lose, but ungraciously.

  11. “Does anyone really care how it’s produced just as long as the lights go on? Really, who gives a monkey’s toss?”

    Tell that to the moonbats who wish to enforce their mad, marxoid, anti-scientific, antihuman ideas on the world at whatever cost and who are violently anti-coal, anti-nuclear, anti-oil, anti-gas and fanatically pro wind-and-piss-power (windmills and water) which, without the other energy generation methods, can’t keep the lights on.

    Being a capitalist denier myself, I couldn’t give a toss what sort of power generation I have as long as it keeps the lights on and I and – much more importantly – people weaker and poorer than I are free to buy it at a competitive price decided by a free market and not from an inefficient monopoly supplier such as, er, the government at whatever artificial price it dictates.

  12. Industrial action in the 1979s was not unrelated to the economic system then prevailing, Martin dear.

    And yes, I’m old enough to remember the last time socialists wrecked the country’s economy. It’s a pity the voters can’t remember, otherwise we’d never have elected that dour career politician from Scotland as our Prime Minister. Oh wait, we didn’t.

  13. “we’d never have elected that dour career politician from Scotland as our Prime Minister. Oh wait, we didn’t” – that really is a point so feeble that it might reasonably be called stupid. Since the War, the following have become PM without leading their party to victory in a general election – Eden, Macmillan, Douglas-Home, Callaghan, Major, Brown. That’s a reminder that our system is not the American Presidential system.

  14. Tell you what you don’t own, though – you don’t own your water meter, if you have one, and you certainly won’t own your electricity meter, for which you might just pay a standing charge for having in your house.

    That’s like complaining you don’t own the supermarket scales when you buy 1kg of bananas from Tesco.

  15. As for the point that water exists in a special class because it returns to source without being permanently captured in a manufactured good: one can only assume that in Martin’s case the same is true of the food he eats, which would mean he is literally full of shit.

  16. Ah, it was as inevitable as rain on a Bank Holiday Monday, or the eventual appearance of Judi Dench in a costume drama. David Gillies has popped up to enforce some spontaneous order on a situation where his worldview is being challenged. Real class, dude. Your prose style really marks you out as a technician. Debating with you is like attempting to discuss Plato with your plumber; the conversation is likely to be brief, and embarrassing for both parties – but in very different ways.

    Glad that’s out of the way. Who’s next?

    Emil –

    ‘1) The state is an (hopefully) elected representative of the people, it is not the people’ –

    This is commonly called legalistic hair splitting.

    ‘2) You claimed that “its elites cannot suffer the idea that the people own anything in common”, I proved that this claim was wrong by pointing to the fact this elite likes that people own stuff in common through the stock exchange. A lot more relevant than any talk about whales’ –

    Ah, I see that I got under your skin there. Good. Your initial comment appeared to be a non sequitur, best replied to in kind. As for your second comment, the only cogent response one can make to it is that our current political elites presided over the boom in the private equity industry which has just seen Borders Books close on Christmas Eve, with the loss of about 1,000 jobs. They have seen an incredible amount of value taken off the stock exchange by such groups, and have seen fit to do nothing about it. The theory of what you say is grand. It has not been reflected in the pursuit of actual economic policy.

    ‘3) Competition does foster innovation, diversification and price wars, anyone claiming otherwise is either blind, ignorant, stupid or evil’ –

    Ah yes, I’m sure that someone, somewhere will one day produce more efficient protons, neutrons and electrons. We live in hope. As for price wars, these will never happen for as long as Ofgem exists. Price wars are in fact very bad things, because the price almost always eventually goes back to its market level. Price wars are to businesses what the first three free scores of smack are a junkie – just enough to get you hooked, before the dealers reel you in.

    ‘4) First you claim that people should be able to decide, then you claim that they don’t need to because no one cares, not very coherent are you?’ –

    Please provide references.

    ‘5) banks and credit card issuers charge you fees in advance for the use of their platforms. They reality is that a lot of folks ask you to pay in advance for the use of their products. ‘ –

    Perfectly true. Then again, you don’t cook your dinner or heat your home with your credit card (come to think of it, some people might try). Then and then again, you don’t have to have a credit card – I don’t, never have done. But unless you’re truly radical, I don’t think many people nowadays would want to be off the electricity grid, and that electricity is vastly more important to the mere ability to live one’s life these days, just to get through one period of 24 hours from beginning to end, than having a credit card facility. You have advanced a ‘reductio ad absurdum’.

    “6) minerals and metals also go back into the system or the ground depending on whether they are recycled or thrown away”

    Yes, with a significantly greater halflife than the water in your cistern, and considerably lesser utility.

    MikeinAppalachia,

    One assumes that you know what you’re talking about it; so feel free to qualify your remarks. The mere fact that one can only usually have one electricity meter in one’s home – I would like to have one for every player in the market, but can’t have them – does rather indicate that the provision of electricity is not an activity that lends itself to the market. If it’s not the market that does it, it has to be the government. If it’s done by the government, it should be treated as a common good. Please explain why you disagree.

    Dearieme,

    Yes, I do accept that the municipal gas authorities were…taken over…zzz…by the …government…zzz…but…if …you…read…the book…zzz…I referred to…you would…know…that…the municipal companies…only took over…zzz…from the private …gas suppliers…zzz…by the means…of…private…zzz…Acts of Parliament….zzzz…so…there…is…no…actual..argument…against…state control…of utilities…other than…zzz.. that peculiarly…Thatcherite…zzz…bigotry…against…anything…with…the word…zzz…’National’…in its…zzz…name…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    In all seriousness – a posture I sometimes hard it find to affect when confronted with your thoughts – I have actually provided an example of such an electricity company. You haven’t. Instead you’ve declared victory and flounced off – itself a posture not uncommon in Scots of your generation, the most spoiled in history, and whose bills we’ll all be paying for the rst of your lives. If you are looking for another example of state intervention in the electricity industry prior to ’45 (or should that be ‘The ’45?), you could go for the notorious socialist Stanley Baldwin’s creation of the National Grid, the history of which I once had to briefly outline to KayTie.

    Prodicus, you were doing very well until the dismount. Consider the following comment by Joseph Stiglitz, ‘ Globalisation and its discontents’, p. 54 –

    “Governments, by and large, have little business running steel mills, and typically make a mess of it. (Although the most efficient steel mills in the world are those established and run by the Korean and Taiwanese governments, they are an exception).”

    Now, this may also have some relevance to Mike’s comment, if he reads this far down, and it also shows how Nobel Prize winning economists are as likely to fail to grasp the point they might be trying to make as the rest of us. In the conduct of any collective endeavour, it is not who is running it that is important. It is not why it is being run that is important. It is how it is run that is important.

    That is why the Koreans and Taiwanese have successful state owned steel mills, and we now don’t have any of consequence, either public or private. You throw out the phrase ‘inefficient monopoly’, yet it’s apparently in pursuit of all being for the best in the best of all possible worlds. I have worked for many different multinational companies, and have found none of them to be as efficient as market ideologues claim them to be. They’re very good at sacking people; but that’s just about it.

    KayTie (dear),

    Ah yes, blame the unions. The protons, neutrons and electrons were engaged in a demarcation dispute regarding teabreak times. They refused to take their teabreaks together, which is why we only had electricity for half an hour a day on weekdays, and 10 minutes a day at weekends. Candlelight would have been good, but this was intermittent, due to the candlemakers’ unreasonable collective bargaining power. Maggie was great, because she put an end to all that nonsense. Was there anything else?

    Tim Newman,

    “That’s like complaining you don’t own the supermarket scales when you buy 1kg of bananas from Tesco.”

    Ah, a non sequitur! My wife ate too many Cadbury’s Roses last night – and felt queasy afterwards! My dad has flat feet! I wear glasses! Where I live, it’s a Sunday bus service today!

    It is not like owning the scales. It is not even like owning the till. Although you pay for the purchase of the scales when you buy your 1kg of banana, you can elect whose scales you use by stopping shopping at Tesco and going to Asda instead. But you don’t have a say in who owns your electricity meter.

    I have to scoot folks, and won’t be back until tomorrow am.

  17. Martin: “At all times and under all cicumstances, it’s the same stuff. That there is a market in the production and distribution of the same stuff is a legal fiction.”

    So presumably you believe Fair Trade products to be a legal fiction, because the material end product is the same as a comparable non-Fair Trade product.

    The only thing which has been mentioned so far which strikes me as a genuine fiction is the idea that, if the government takes total control of an industry, I, as an individual, have any meaningful influence over the product which is supplied to me.

    “See the reference to ‘Ofgem’ above.”

    So, because the government chooses to interfere in a market, that is proof that the government has to interfere in a market? You’ll have to explain that reasoning to me.

  18. Martin-You really do not want to have more than one electric meter on/at your home. Each additional meter would require additional wiring and other devices to connect to your panel and, to make them function as you seem to want, would require a seperate set of distribution circuits from each supplier’s substation to your home. One meter can allow you to purchase your usage from any variety of suppliers and generation types. You can purchase by proportion of usage, by time-of-day, by generation type, whatever. But there are cost, safety, land usage, and system (grid)coordination problems that dictate that there be only a single distribution system and one metering point in residential service areas. Even if you want to diversify your purchase of electric service, there are underlying costs of system coordination, billing determination, back-up and spinning reserve provision, voltage and frequency maintenance, generation scheduling, etc. that have to be provided and your resulting billing will include those costs that are common to all users.
    Assume you own your electric meter-what company is going to allow your meter to determine your usage of their product? How are you to maintain it? The scale analogy was apt. Would you take your scales to the grocery and attempt to use it to determine how many poun..excuse me..Kg of goods you wish to purchase? If you did, I doubt that the grocer would accept your determination without a check by his scales.
    As for State-Owned electric utilites, they all seem to share the same characteristics: over-staffed, under-maintained, overseen by incompetent political appointees, deteriorating systems with gorgeous office facilities, rate structures that cross-subsidize the current thinking in “social justice”, huge inventories of vehicles that have nothing to do with operating needs, and little, if any, concern for efficiency in operation, procurement, or long-range planning.
    I have a report to get out to a client, but I will check in here later if you want to continue.

  19. It is not like owning the scales.

    Yes, it is. You are buying a product. The ownership of the calibrated device which measures the quantity of product is normally of no concern to the buyer, except you who seems to think it is important.

    Admittedly I’ve been out of the UK a while and might be unaware that there is a movement of angry people who are ready to turn violent if their demands for electricity meter ownership are not met.

  20. Sorry, guys, don’t have as much time this morning as I thought.

    Paul,

    “So presumably you believe Fair Trade products to be a legal fiction, because the material end product is the same as a comparable non-Fair Trade product.”

    One can buy fair trade coffee from any number of different suppliers, ditto bananas, citrus fruit, etc, although, to the best of my knowledge and belief, one cannot yet buy fair trade home contents insurance or Wiis. A cup of fair trade coffee produced in one Ghanaian village may be blended in a different way from that produced in the village down the road, so it will have a different taste. Village A’s bananas might be longer and curvier than Village B’s, while B’s satsumas might be plumper and juicier than A’s. Every fair trade product is guaranteed to be different in some way from every other – the electricity that you use is guaranteed to be the same thing regardless of how it’s produced. There are no such things as ‘comparable’ brands of electricity – in essence, it’s all the same stuff, delivered to you via the same mechanisms regardless of who you pay for it.

    “The only thing which has been mentioned so far which strikes me as a genuine fiction is the idea that, if the government takes total control of an industry, I, as an individual, have any meaningful influence over the product which is supplied to me.”

    I don’t think I’ve said that. Please show me otherwise.

    “So, because the government chooses to interfere in a market, that is proof that the government has to interfere in a market? You’ll have to explain that reasoning to me.”

    Again, as above. Don’t think I’ve said that.

    Mike,

    I’m actually with you almost all the way on this one, up to the last paragraph. As I think I said right at the very beginning, it’s bleedin obvious that the laws of physics and electrical engineeering, in which you are clearly very much more schooled than I am, dictate that one cannot have more than one meter on one’s property – which, to my mind, indicates to me that there cannot be a market in the commodity which is supplied through it.

    Let us phrase the scales analogy another way. OK, you can’t bring your own scales to the supermarket – but does each supermarket only use the same set of scales? Do they get ferried around by taxi whenever anyone wishes to buy anything that has to be weighed? No, of course not. That would be absurd. If it’s a situation that’s absurd regarding the purchase of bananas, it’s absurd regarding the purchase of electricity – but that’s the situation that applies at the moment with electricity metering.

    As for your last paragraph, I think I’ve dealt with that in the comments I made beneath the quote from Stiglitz I posted above. It is not who is running something, or why it is being run, but how it is run that determines its efficacy. Get over that, and you’ve got it cracked.

    TimN,

    “The ownership of the calibrated device which measures the quantity of product is normally of no concern to the buyer, except you who seems to think it is important.”

    See my comment about scales being ferried around from supermarket to supermarket above.

    Chaps, I’m off until after the New Year. Have a good one.

  21. Martin-Just in case you do check in here again (and a Happy 2010 to you as well), some parting comments;
    There is no barrier to multiple meters other than that such is inefficient and, repeating myself, a single meter can accomodate multiple and varying suppliers of your electric demands. Therefore, there can be (and in fact is in many jurisdictions) a market for the supply of electrical power to residential loads.
    All commercial scales and other metering devices, e.g. gasoline pumps, are subject to periodic calibration checks. At least that is the case in the USA and Canada. As are revenue electric meters for that matter. I do not see your point here.
    Ah, yes-just get the State owned/operated electric utilities to be operated as efficently as their investor owned counterparts. Sorry, their culture and objectives absolutely prevents that from ever happening.

  22. <emLet us phrase the scales analogy another way.

    So it’s progressed from a non-sequitur to an analogy? Good.

    If it’s a situation that’s absurd regarding the purchase of bananas, it’s absurd regarding the purchase of electricity – but that’s the situation that applies at the moment with electricity metering.

    I agree that an electricity company having to install its own meter each time the custome changes supplier is on the face of it not very practical. Is this what actually happens now?

    If so, then the alternative is that the owner must purchase the meter for himself and demonstrate to the electricity company that it is calibrated properly. Is this something that the customer wishes to do? I doubt it.

    In terms of practicality, it comes down to whether it is easier for the electricity company to own and install the meters or for customers to arrange for and demonstrate their calibration. If the average Joe wasn’t such a complete dunderhead the latter might be easier, but I can imagine the howls of outrage if an electricity supplier refused to turn on the supply to a pensioner because the calibration certificate on her meter had expired.

    So we’re really only talking about practicalities here, rather than principles. In principle, it does not matter who owns a measuring device: be it the seller, buyer, or third party. Provided everyone can agree that the quantity is verified, it makes no difference to anyone.

    I still cannot see why you consider customers not owning their electricity meters to be a problem, other than perhaps for practical reasons it might be easier for some people to get the things installed and calibrated themselves.

  23. Tim-The meter is the property of the distribution(“wires”) company and, at least in the USA and Canada, remains regardless of which generation company the consumer contracts with for his supply. Current residential meters allow for purchases in real time from a variety of suppliers and a mix of generation types.
    I really cannot understand Martin’s longing for seperate meters or why the existance of a market would depend upon such.

  24. Martin: “A cup of fair trade coffee produced in one Ghanaian village may be blended in a different way from that produced in the village down the road, so it will have a different taste. Village A’s bananas might be longer and curvier than Village B’s, while B’s satsumas might be plumper and juicier than A’s.”

    What you say might be the case, but it is irrelevant. Fair Trade doesn’t guarantee a difference in the physical end product, it guarantees a difference in the method of production and supply.

    “the electricity that you use is guaranteed to be the same thing regardless of how it’s produced.”

    That misses the point that the “how it is produced” is part of the product, just as with Fair Trade, the supply chain is part of the product that people are paying for. By the same token, with utilities, the quality of customer service is also part of the product.

  25. Right, where were we?

    Mike,

    “There is no barrier to multiple meters other than that such is inefficient and, repeating myself, a single meter can accomodate multiple and varying suppliers of your electric demands. ”

    Agreed.

    “Therefore, there can be (and in fact is in many jurisdictions) a market for the supply of electrical power to residential loads.”

    This is too big a jump to make.

    “All commercial scales and other metering devices, e.g. gasoline pumps, are subject to periodic calibration checks. At least that is the case in the USA and Canada. As are revenue electric meters for that matter. I do not see your point here.”

    I don’t think I was making a point about this.

    “Ah, yes-just get the State owned/operated electric utilities to be operated as efficently as their investor owned counterparts. Sorry, their culture and objectives absolutely prevents that from ever happening.”

    And ideology trumps physics…hmmm..

    TimN,

    “So it’s progressed from a non-sequitur to an analogy? Good”

    As originally framed it appeared to be a non sequitur. Mike explained it more clearly than you did. Thanks, Mike.

    “I agree that an electricity company having to install its own meter each time the custome changes supplier is on the face of it not very practical. Is this what actually happens now?”

    I would frame that another way. Do you have any idea how many people change suppliers on the basis that they’re promised a change from a prepayment meter to credit? Might be more than you think.

    “If so, then the alternative is that the owner must purchase the meter for himself and demonstrate to the electricity company that it is calibrated properly. Is this something that the customer wishes to do? I doubt it. ”

    Neither do I, indeed I think I have referred to the end consumer’s inability to buy a meter from B & Q above. To my mind this is evidence of the absence of any market in the supply in electricity. And how do you know what people do or don’t want to do? You are making assumptions.

    “In terms of practicality, it comes down to whether it is easier for the electricity company to own and install the meters or for customers to arrange for and demonstrate their calibration. If the average Joe wasn’t such a complete dunderhead the latter might be easier, but I can imagine the howls of outrage if an electricity supplier refused to turn on the supply to a pensioner because the calibration certificate on her meter had expired.”

    Apart from patronising the majority of your fellow citizens, you really, and clearly, don’t know much about prepayment electricity meters. I would suggest you read The Electricity Act 1989, particularly Section 16 and Schedule 6.

    “So we’re really only talking about practicalities here, rather than principles. In principle, it does not matter who owns a measuring device: be it the seller, buyer, or third party. Provided everyone can agree that the quantity is verified, it makes no difference to anyone.”

    Fine. Give me the option to own one, then we’ll talk. Ditto with your last paragraph.

    Mike,

    “The meter is the property of the distribution(“wires”) company and, at least in the USA and Canada, remains regardless of which generation company the consumer contracts with for his supply. Current residential meters allow for purchases in real time from a variety of suppliers and a mix of generation types”

    Not in the UK, as far as I’m aware, but I could be mistaken.

    “I really cannot understand Martin’s longing for seperate meters or why the existance of a market would depend upon such.”

    I don’t really long for anything other than a spot of intellectual honesty. We’re told that there’s a market in electricity. This seems to mean that the same substance is passed through the same wires from the same power stations regardless of who are actually paying for it; oh, and to engage in this exercise we must all have a piece of equipment in our homes which we do not and indeed cannot ever own. To my mind, this is a series of irreconcilable contradictions.

    Paul,

    “Fair Trade doesn’t guarantee a difference in the physical end product, it guarantees a difference in the method of production and supply.”

    Indeed. One lives in hope that that is likely to make a difference to the poor buggers who actually pick the effing bananas in the long run.

    “That misses the point that the “how it is produced” is part of the product, just as with Fair Trade, the supply chain is part of the product that people are paying for.”

    Ah, Epicurean electricity and connoisseur conservationism. I think I’ve just realised where you’re coming from, and I don’t think I like it. If you haven’t read it before, I’d recommend you have a stab at ‘The Screwtape Letters’ by C. S. Lewis. He is very good on the subject of how being careful and serious about what you consume is as surefire a form of gluttony as stuffing your face every minute of the day.

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