Possibly, possibly

The biggest civil unrest in decades is likely this autumn. Not all angry people are not going to sit quietly at home, fretting in silence when they realise what is happening to them is being done deliberately. They are going to take to the streets.

But who are they going to hang, Spuddo?

There is, though, the risk of moral hazard in this. That risk is that everyone might decide not to pay, whether they can or not. That cannot happen, so whilst Universal Basic Services must exist, those wanting to use them must be required to prove their need to use this service.

The idea should be open to all though, although those on benefits should not need to give further data on income based on the fact that they incomes will already be known. For everyone else, this data will be required, as will details of outgoings be needed for everyone involved.

Once this data is established (and this must be done as simply as possible) then an agreed maximum payment per month must be fixed, and be fairly and appropriately split between all those due to be paid.

The government could and should administer that payment scheme. So, the person in the scheme should make one payment to the government and the government should then pay those they owe for them. In effect, this is a creditor’s voluntary insolvency arrangement on a massive scale.

Importantly, this scheme has to be mandatory. In other words, anyone owed money by those in this scheme will have no choice but accept the payment that they as all that will ever be paid. It will not be an option for them.

And just to be clear, the amounts not paid will have to be written off: there will be be accumulating debt left behind which landlords and others might then use to evict tenants once this crisis is over. The payments made will cancel the full liabilities owing.

What about the companies owed money? They will say this is grossly unfair. But, let’s be honest, nothing about what is happening here is fair. War is not fair. The actions of the Bank of England are not fair. The UN Secretary General says that the energy companies are screwing us.

And let’s give a mention to the banks, who are going to profit massively from the additional interest payments due to them as a result of the increase on the interest rate on the funds they have technically deposited with the BoE as a result of the operation of QE.

To put that extra bank profit in context: they cannot make less than £14 billion extra profit next year as a result of the gains handed to them directly by the BoE. That’s not fair. So let’s not shed too many tears for them.

But, some companies will still complain and want support. And I think if they can make a case for it – on a case by case basis for companies of this size – they should get it. But the price should be that they hand over a share of their business for all the support they get.

There should be no handouts, grants or loans. If these businesses are under-capitalised to manage the losses which all large companies should be robust enough to withstand then they must pay the price for wanting the additional capital that they will demand from the government.

Great, innit? Bankrupt all the companies by letting folk off their bills. Then nationalise all the companies as they go bust.

What a plan!

54 thoughts on “Possibly, possibly”

  1. Universal basic services…. users must prove their need…

    errr….. exactly what definition of “universal” is Lord Spudcup using here?

  2. Some f those unable to pay will be doing so as well. I am not alone in thinking so. Martin Lewis expects this. So does Jo Maugham.

    Alexa, what’s the collective noun for “cunts”?

    What is needed then is a real plan to deal with this. I stress, I am not saying I have all the answers now, because I have not. But I have some.

    The first thing that the government is going to have to do is ensure that all people enjoy Universal Basic Services. A home with water, electricity, gas and broadband is a basic need of life. The government has to guarantee that people will have them through this crisis.

    Lol.

  3. So there is no incentive for anyone to reduce their consumption then? Might as well stick the thermostat up to 25 degrees and leave all the windows open, its not going to cost you any more is it?

    While there might in some extreme circumstances be a reason to control prices in such a manner, the concept would be pointless unless you also controlled demand at the same time (ie rationing). Because a physical shortage is the problem here, not that the price has gone up but there’s loads of supply still. Unless people have an incentive to turn off lights, turn the heating down, and generally consume less energy, then just controlling the amount they pay will just result in a catastrophic failure of supply at some point, probably the point when things are coldest and lack of heating will kill people. Prices are signals, without them people have no reason to change consumption levels.

    Personally I’m worried that what will happen over the next 18 months will allow the socialists and eco-loons to get their hands on real power over us. Despite all the problems we are facing being the fault of the State’s own policy choices, its far too easy to demand that ‘the government must do something’ and get public backing for that. Covid has shown us how easy it is for the forces of darkness to use fear to get the public to demand they be enslaved, and I can foresee exactly the same scenario over energy playing out over the next year or so.

  4. Steve

    If wishes were horses he’d be Shergar

    The government (governments) has brought us to this pass largely, as the Bloke in Spain said by following a lot of Murphy’s suggestions? Having created the problem they can fix it! How Soviet of them…

    FWIW I actually in part agree this autumn could see a lot of anger – unfortunately for Muphry it’s likely to be directed towards him…

  5. I’m also enjoying the idea that ‘outgoings will
    Be monitored’ – so spend anything on fags, booze or gambling and your services will be cut off! How ironic that a ban from every pub in one town means he wants to stop everyone else from having a pint…

  6. Can you supercharge me now?

    Is electricity massively overproduced and would be even more overproduced if they ran generators full time instead of regulary turning them off?

    Evidence: https://transmission.bpa.gov/business/operations/Wind/baltwg.aspx

    [Graph shows one hydropower utility’s output over the past seven days way outstripping demand, and deliberately being throttled at night or production would burn up all the transmission wires …]

  7. @Jim @1.26pm

    “I’m worried that what will happen over the next 18 months will allow the socialists and eco-loons to get their hands on real power over us”

    Too late, mate. Meet the Conservative Party…

  8. He loves a crisis. He was doing this when covid started, writing long lists demanding nationalisation of everything, rationing, etc. He’ll try and find some way of using it to get a grant or two.

  9. Can You Supercharge me Now

    The problem with a wind based generation of course is that is impossible to control when it generates. The Germans found this a huge problem. On windy days they would overproduce and have to “dump” electricity on their neighbours, who didn’t want it.

    Hydro actually is a lot easier to control. If sited properly, the flow is regular and predictable and can meet changes in demand by ( figuratively) lifting the paddle out of the water.

  10. Can You Supercharge Me Now:

    Controlling the grid is complicated – both voltage and frequency must be maintained within narrow limits, both of which are affected by the varying load (users). Wind generation is so variable that almost equal capacities of stable (oil, coal, gas, nuclear or hydro) generation must be available to smooth out the fluctuations. Storing small amounts of excess generation is available with the pumped water systems, such as Dinorwig in Wales. But that’s very different and indirect compared to storing gas or oil, so running all generation at the most efficient and economic settings is not usually possible.

  11. Jim
    I fear you may be right. They have been trying to infantilise us for years.
    There is however a chance that they won’t succeed. The public has seen that every “service” provided by the government is utter shit. NHS, Met police, DVLA… Is there any department that actually works as pretended?

  12. Philip

    Another example is National Savings. They have buggered their website, it has been down all week. Haven’t tried today yet. Simply unacceptable.

  13. Supercharger:
    That graph doesn’t show what you think it does.

    Graph shows one hydropower utility’s output over the past seven days way outstripping demand…
    And where do you think the extra power goes? I’ll give you a hint – there’s a very large state to the south of BPA’s service territory that gets quite warm, and the residents like to run air conditioners. Those A/C units need electricity – which the BPA is happy to provide – at a price.

    …and deliberately being throttled at night or production would burn up all the transmission wires.
    I’m not sure why you think overnight production would ‘burn up all the transmission lines’ when afternoon transmission does not do so even though ambient temperatures are higher. In any event, production is cut back at night to match the reduction in load, and therefore the value of energy. Usage in that big state declines to be closer to its base load, and they have less need of imports. BPA is happy to store water behind their dams, since it will have a higher value the next afternoon.
    Not to give away any secrets, but all Hydro operators do this: it is one of the prime advantages of hydro-generation, since it provides high capacity, and very responsive generation.

    And just by the way, hydro stations usually have a capacity factor of 40% to 60%*, so they can’t be run ‘full time instead of regulary turning them off’ – they are fuel-limited.

    * that’s generally the sweet spot for maximizing station value.

  14. “There is however a chance that they won’t succeed. The public has seen that every “service” provided by the government is utter shit. NHS, Met police, DVLA… Is there any department that actually works as pretended?”

    That didn’t stop the public demanding the entire country be turned into a sort of prison/holiday camp combo after covid hit, or stop a considerable proportion of the public demanding that people be forcibly vaccinated either.

    Fear does strange things to people, and when lots of people are subject to the same external stimulus the outcomes are hard to predict. Covid showed us that tyrannies aren’t necessarily imposed on a population by a dictatorial jack booted State, they can arise when the public demand to be so treated. If things turn nasty in 2023 I can easily see that rationing and quotas for many of the basics of life will be demanded by the public, rather than imposed on them against their will. And the eco-loons and power mad freaks in government will be only too pleased to oblige. After all we all know how the Left operates – never let a crisis go to waste. And this is going to be the mother of all crises, so they will be salivating at the opportunity to make a power grab that would be on a par with the 1945 Labour government in its effects on the nation for a century to come.

  15. VP – If wishes were horses he’d be Shergar

    Incitwatus.

    Jim – Fear does strange things to people

    They know. That’s why we’re constantly bombarded with scary stories emanating from every electronic orifice.

    Philip – Is there any department that actually works as pretended?

    HMRC.

  16. Jim, Otto
    I’m a bit more optimistic. Two centuries ago de Tocqueville (Democracy in America) remarked that tyrants always seek to keep their subjects in “perpetual childhood”.
    Didn’t work then. Won’t work for long now.
    I’m off to water my pot plants under cover of darkness.

  17. @philip

    The difference between now and the time of de Tocqueville is that the state now giveth and can take away.

    Back then, there were no hosepipe vans, nor no hoses or taps, and no one wanted to stop you walking to the well with a bucket.

    People grew their own food, or mostly knew those who grew it. You don’t and cannot grow your own food, provide your own water (if you live in a city), power your house, or do anything much with a vast interconnection.

    They are smashing the interconnection.

    We are infantilised. What he foresaw has happened.

  18. Can you decouple me now?

    Ottokkring, Ed P:

    Why are you ignoring the vast overproduction of electricity which has led to laws (in this state and many others) that explicitly decouple retail rates from supply, because otherwise market forces would push retail rates negative?

    How does the “scarcity everywhere” assumption of Economics 101 square with the evidence showing electricity is obscenely superabundant?

    Simply put, is electricity supply glaringly elastic, physically; shortages are man-made, not confirmation of the scarcity assumption?

  19. Dcardno: limited to many, many multiples of current demand? Can we agree hydropower supply is elastic, and water batteries powered by solar and wind can effectively make electricity free for as long as we want? [Can you pump water back up in a closed loop, with solar and wind-powered pumps? Can you use capillary action to improve on stodgy old pump technology?]

    Interested: can we all agree that the Lockian Proviso has been grossly violated and should be restored?

  20. I have a 1936 edition of Under The Axe of Fascism by Gaetano Salvemini; perhaps the best book ever written about the subject, not least because it was written as it was happening to his country and explains precisely what Fascism is and how it is organised.

    Looks like Ritchie also has a copy, because it’s uncanny.

  21. Interested

    Careful, stop being so Anglo Saxon . In many European countries in the 18th C the State still tried to micromanage its inhabitants. The German duchies and Kingdoms ( esp Prussia and Saxony ) and I think even Sweden ( funnily enough there is an article on that subject that I havent read yet, I shall report back later tomorrow). French bureaucracy was notoriously corrupt and the power of the state went right diwn to the most local level.

    Who’s this guy with the electricity fetish ? Wholesale strike rates are incredibly complicated and can change hourly let alone daily. One can’t run a retail business for a million customers on that basis, they have to be decoupled.
    Paul Homewood and BishopHill explain this often enough. Sometimes in times of overproduction it is sold at negative rates ( they pay customers to take it away), which is lunacy. Again, this is why the German energy system has become so screwed.

  22. Jim @ 8.19. You may be right about the peeps actually ‘wanting’ draconian rules – First it’ll be adverts on TV and in the papers such as “Switch Off Something Now” (that sounds familiar), then it’ll be gangs of vigilantes roaming around town after dark looking for ‘transgressors’ and shouting “turn those bloody lights out”. Homes with a ‘smart’ meter will be disconnected automatically, natch.

    Sunday 19th June @ 17.30.
    Demand was 30GW and 11,091 wind turbines with a nameplate capacity of 24.6GW, were generating 5GW.
    We would need to install another 66,366 turbines to deliver the demand of a Sunday afternoon in June.
    But, even if we did build and install another 66,366 wind turbines, we would still need to build and maintain 30GW of nuclear, gas, oil, coal baseload as the turbines would deliver 0 GW if the wind wasn’t blowing.

    In addition, if the output from wind turbines and solar is supplying the demand they won’t be charging up any kind of ‘storage’ will they, so there STILL wouldn’t be any backup when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining.

    Renewables: If they makes sense to you, you are insane.

  23. “Renewables: If they makes sense to you, you are insane.”

    Or you know full well they don’t solve the stated problem (the need to move to a carbon free energy system) but go with it anyway because their failure to do that actually does advance your real agenda which is the control of the entire population via control of the energy supply.

    It blatantly obvious that solar and wind cannot be the basis (or even a significant fraction) of the electricity generating capacity of a nation without a massive switchable backup behind it. And only pumped storage hydro (which is not feasible in the UK, not to the degree required) and natural gas can provide that immediate power boost when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun isn’t shining. So this tells me that the stampede into ‘renewables’ has nothing to do with ‘de-carbonising’ the UK’s electricity supply, it has another intention entirely – to screw up the supply to such an extent that it requires the State to take control of the energy consumption of every individual. Indeed as I posited in another thread on the introduction of tyrannies, I suspect the State would not have to impose such controls in the face of mass opposition, the masses would demand them, with a bit of prompting from the usual suspects in the State propaganda arm, sorry ‘mainstream media’. Just as happened during covid.

  24. The article that I mentioned was about Gustav III who overthrew parliamentin 1772. There wasn’t much about Swedish society, but their politics was very similar to England’s with Court and Country parties.

    Apparently in the mid 18th Cent, GB and NL were the only places without newspaper censorship.

  25. @Jim
    I’d imagine one could do bulk electricity storage with lead/acid. Mature tech. I think you’d get around 250kW/m³ You’d just be looking at very big chemical works. Something we already have. But I can’t see the Greens being happy with the idea.

  26. The only way it would work is if society wholesale moved to intermittant *consumption* to match the intermittant supply. You only get electricity if there’s electricity to get, you only have water if there’s still some in your rain tank, you only eat if you have enough of last year’s harvest in your cellar. Just like the good old days when you were lucky to live past 40. That’s the plan, it’s not a flaw.

  27. Jim, you’re absolutely right of course – I should have remembered the old adage ‘Never ascribe to malice that which could be explained by stupidity. But never rule out malice’.

    jgh, you’re absolutely right too – as I read your comment the first thing I thought of was Africa today, not the UK in the past…..

  28. I’d imagine one could do bulk electricity storage with lead/acid.

    Not sure about the feasibility of large scale, but this technology (or lithium if you’re brave) makes for an excellent domestic contingency against unreliable mains supply. A charger-battery-inverter system of relatively modest size and cost (bigger than computer u.p.s. and motorhome gear) could keep some lights on and run a gas boiler for many hours.

  29. I know, I know

    Instead of insulating homes with rockwool, builders could use lead/acid or lithium .in the attics and cavity walls. It’d insulate and store electricity.

    What could possibly go wrong ?

  30. ‘https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3274611’

    The address of a paper on The Viability of All Renewable Grids With Battery Storage Support by Brian Catt if anyone’s interested.

  31. Can we all agree that rsm and his alter egos should firmly insert his head in his arse and leave it there for eternity?

  32. Asiaseen

    They are waiting for some abuse so that they can say “ooh look at these Worstallians, what a bunch of fascists.”

    Unfortunately as I see so often here or at BishopHill or Wuwt, people keep on being polite to them.

  33. Otto ‘ 12.43, as with the IRA, if the UK gov had done the sensible thing and exterminated all 2- 3 hundred provo’s in one go (and that’s all there were – it wasn’t massive legions FFS) as suggested by Alan Clarke MP PBUH, we would have had 6 months of gnashing of teeth, wailing and rending of garments, followed by peace and which would also mean not giving Tony Bliar a gong for something the Major government had spent years negotiating.

    The argument was that if we did something horrid that would make US as bad as them.

  34. “Can we agree hydropower supply is elastic, and water batteries powered by solar and wind can effectively make electricity free for as long as we want?”

    My first thought is to reply, why should we agree? Hydropower is obviously limited by the amount of headwater at the time. Solar and wind power are only free as long as you disregard the high capital costs and the high maintenance costs. Most countries recognise that the capex is high but refuse to believe that maintenance is required, hence the number of non-turning turbines and heaps of junk at places like Altamont. All in all, not a good way to start the conversation. Does anyone have data on the energy losses in the Snowy Mountain scheme?

  35. Plus, of course, there is a lot of fretting about the environmental costs of things like the Hoover Dam, the Snowy Mountain scheme etc…

  36. rsm:
    What is limited to multiples of current demand?

    Supply elasticity – depends on the time scale: hourly or daily is very elastic, annual is inelastic: you have to process the water you get, either by generating or spilling – no matter the value of the energy generated. Decades time scale it is elastic – new dams are built if it looks like they’ll be needed, although ‘green energy’ makes that harder – it’s sort of like a Gresham’s Law for energy, with crappy energy sources pushing out good ones.

    Wind surpluses can be used for pumped storage, although P/S has a round-trip energy loss of ~15%. If the power is surplus you might as well get the reduced value, rather than nothing (but don’t forget the massive capex to built the P/S installation). Solar generation tends to move with load (in particular, with A/C load for obvious reasons) so surpluses are less likely – you use the energy as it is produced, but if you have surpluses they could feed P/S as well.

    I doubt that capillary action can be effective at the scale needed, both in water volume and elevation gain.

  37. Capillary action. Much hyped and less understood.

    The Poplar Mechanics of the 1950s explained how you can recycle your dirty paraffin by using a cotton rope to clean the oil/paraffin mixture. Place the Jerry can containing the dirty stuff at the bottom of your workbench. Dip the end of the rope in the dirty mixture and put the other end of the rope in a can on top of your work bench. The maximum lift you can get is about 5 foot. Leave the set up, go to school, study, Play your sport, and come back next weekend to find that half your dirty paraffin was cleaned, but not very clean. I do not think you would be able to.power an LED light bulb with a very big capillary action setup.

  38. Bloke in North Dorset

    They are waiting for some abuse so that they can say “ooh look at these Worstallians, what a bunch of fascists.”

    Unfortunately as I see so often here or at BishopHill or Wuwt, people keep on being polite to them.

    Its like all those pillocks trying to get banned by free speech advocate Andrew Doyle so they can run around Twatter claiming that he doesn’t really believe in free speech because he wouldn’t probide a platform for whatever whacky idea they want to push – usually that he’s some sort of right wing fascist homophobe and transphobe.

  39. Addolff

    Although I agree with you about eliminating the IRA, I saw a docu many years ago where a senior officer in the Army said that the problem with killing the terrirists, especially in somewhere like Ireland was that it created martyrs. It was much better to lock them up until they were too old to do any more harm.

    Trouble is of course, Blair set them all free after they had served 32 minutes of their sentence.

    When dealing with savages such as terrorists ( of any kind ) maganimity is seen as weakness and just emboldens them.

  40. When dealing with savages such as terrorists ( of any kind ) maganimity is seen as weakness and just emboldens them.

    Unless the terrorist is V. Putin, in which case appease, appease, appease. That won’t embolden him in any way because reasons.

  41. “the problem with killing the terrirists, especially in somewhere like Ireland was that it created martyrs.”

    Well, publicly killing them would create martyrs. Presumably spiriting them away and burying them in bogs might be a better bet.

  42. Jim,

    “So this tells me that the stampede into ‘renewables’ has nothing to do with ‘de-carbonising’ the UK’s electricity supply, it has another intention entirely – to screw up the supply to such an extent that it requires the State to take control of the energy consumption of every individual. ”

    There’s a few people like that, I think, but most of the issues around eco and renewables are about the population and how they want clean air, watch too much TV, like to virtue signal and don’t do any real deep reading on the science or economics. And then there are grifters selling environmental solutions or trying to build communism on top of it.

    Almost any female anywhere is talking about some eco earth mother shit. They’re as gullible about organic food, food miles or whatever as they are about crystal healing, homeopathy and palmistry.

  43. Yeah, if only dearieme

    Due process and all that rot, eh ?

    That was the problem with the Easter Rising. Britain basically declared martial law in Ireland and executed the ringleaders, which is the “correct” thing to do, but the “wrong” thing, because the oppression was not total eg suppression of the press, banning political parties, “disappearences” etc etc and allowed Sinn Fein to win the 1919 election.

  44. @ Steve
    I am still waiting after periods ranging up to a year-and-a-bit for an answer to any one of my last four letters to HMRC.
    So, No!

  45. Can you hurt my feelings now?

    Ed P

    Basically, couldn’t the UK produce constantly at well over demand? If they printed Quantitative-Easing-style to pay rising coal costs, might they also print money for individuals on an inflation-proofed basic income to figure out capillary action water batteries?

    Someone said: hydropower is limited by the headwater. But can you refill the bathtub as fast as it drains using capillary action to do the lifting for you?

    [Camped on the side of a mountain stream on a pyramid-like peak; where is the water coming from? If glaciers up north, doesn’t the water have to flow uphill for long distances, to come out near the tops of lots of local peaks?]

  46. Someone needs a lesson in basic physics. The problem is that that applies to much of the population including many of our MPs and probably most of the Civil Service.

  47. I’d imagine one could do bulk electricity storage with lead/acid.

    Not sure about the feasibility of large scale,

    It’s easier to understand if you get the ‘word’ battery out of your head. It’s a reversible chemical process. One direction produces lead sulphate. Other direction, sulphuric acid. So it’s a big chemical factory with liquids running through pipes & big tanks. It doesn’t look anything like a battery at all. There are not serried ranks of car batteries with cables connecting them. Although that’s exactly what you have.
    There’s any number of large chemical works do this sort of thing with all sorts of chemical reactions. It’s just another one.
    Yeah there’s some mild opportunities for pollution & the usual industrial risks. It’s pretty well a closed loop. You’d need a certain amount of lead & sulphur input & a water supply to replace evaporation. 250kW/m³ is just a fag packet guess based on what you can get out of stacking deep drain lead/acid commercial batteries. Things like pumped electrolyte & temperature regulation is going to raise efficiencies.
    It all seems pretty simple. It’s what we use now on a small scale. So why’s it never discussed? Lithium storage packs are. But the only reason to use lithium is energy density>mass/volume. Critical for vehicles. Not for static plant.

  48. “Yeah there’s some mild opportunities for pollution & the usual industrial risks. It’s pretty well a closed loop. You’d need a certain amount of lead & sulphur input & a water supply to replace evaporation. 250kW/m³ is just a fag packet guess based on what you can get out of stacking deep drain lead/acid commercial batteries. Things like pumped electrolyte & temperature regulation is going to raise efficiencies.
    It all seems pretty simple. It’s what we use now on a small scale. So why’s it never discussed?”

    Because any large battery is in effect a massive bomb? If you are storing large amount of energy, if that energy accidentally escapes you have a problem. Ask any Tesla owner whose car battery suddenly caught fire. And don’t lead acid batteries produce hydrogen when being charged? Thats kind of explosive too………

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