California utilities prepare to go full socialist

Although Karl Marx coined the phrase “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs,” it’s an old Utopian concept. The Pilgrims applied it when they arrived in the New World, and they promptly came close to starving to death. Starvation, indeed, has been a feature of any society that embraced the idea that people would altruistically give their labor or wealth to the community while those on the receiving end of that benevolent largesse would limit themselves to taking only what they needed. In California, they’re on the verge of repeating that unfortunate experiment.

California law mandates Marxist utility charges. Under AB-205, which became law last year, the legislature used COVID as an excuse to mandate rates “shall be established on an income-graduated basis with no fewer than three income thresholds so that a low-income ratepayer in each baseline territory would realize a lower average monthly bill without making any changes in usage.” Calif. Pub. Utilities Code § 739.9.

Image: Heater by freepik.

Southern California utilities have now prepared their proposals for this socialist experiment:

California's three largest power companies - Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric, and San Diego Gas & Electric - have submitted a joint proposal to the Public Utilities Commission outlining a fixed rate restructuring that would be based on one's income. 

The plan would break down monthly bills into the fixed rate plus a reduced usage charge based on consumption. According to officials this fixed-rate plan would reduce monthly bills for low-income customers and if electricity usage is controlled, bills would also be lowered.

Here's a breakdown of the proposed rate restructuring for Edison customers based on income: 

  • Above $180,000: $85/month
  • $69,000 - $180,000: $51/month
  • $28,000 - $69,000: $20/month
  • Less than $28,000: $15/month

In other words, if you have a higher income, your energy is going to cost more than someone who has a lower income. This is purely regressive. The reality is that poorer people already pay lower rates…because, being poor, they are using fewer utilities. The spaces that they’re heating, cooling, lighting, and otherwise operating are smaller (and fewer in number, per person) than the mansions (often multiple mansions) that the rich possess.

Naturally, California isn’t ignoring the legitimate answer to making energy more affordable for poor people, which is to get rid of its “green energy” policies. California has long made it extremely difficult to get affordable electricity. It shuts down nuclear plants, places taxes on everything, and has the most fanatic emission standards for everything, all in the pursuit of that green chimera of “zero emissions.”

At the national level, the Biden administration is trying to Californicate America. Every policy he has that touches upon energy makes fossil fuels less available. Zero emissions are intended to steer us back to zero modernity (“no phones, lights, no motorcar; not a single luxury,” as they’d say on Gilligan’s Island), which sounds very pastoral, like a return to Eden. It’s not. Life before man harnessed fossil fuel was, as Hobbes memorably said, “solitary, poor, ugly, and brutish.” People lived miserably and died young.

And then there’s the slavery issue.

I can’t emphasize often enough that what ended slavery, which was a constant throughout the world for the entirety of human history until roughly 250 years ago, wasn’t that humans suddenly became compassionate and enlightened, although that certainly helped. It was the fossil-fuel-powered Industrial Revolution, which relied first on coal and then on oil to make things happen. Until humans harnessed that energy, their two major energy sources were animals and slaves. Democrats, aka “Ye Olde Party of Slavery,” are planning on returning us to their good old days.

California’s wealth-based rates are also an experiment doomed to failure. Just pay attention to what happened to the Pilgrims, all of whom operated from the purest and most rarefied emotions.

It turned out that single men did not want to labor for the benefit of the married man with children (as in, they disliked “from each according to his abilities”). There was also the tragedy of the commons, which meant that people, rather than taking from the commons “according to their needs,” took as much as they got their hands on. Taken together, they almost starved to death. It was only when the Pilgrims gained ownership over their own plots of land that they started producing not only enough for their own subsistence-level needs but to trade.

Capitalism, not socialism, feeds people—and it keeps them warm in the winter and cool in the summer, too.

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