Like probably most other electricity consumers, I've been with a number of power companies over the years. I have done as both Labour and National Government's have advised and 'shopped around' for the best price. I've been a regular visitor to the Powerswitch website to check that I'm getting the best price I can get.
But. all the while, the power bills have continued to climb.
It's not that I'm even a high user of power. Right now I'm sitting at one computer and there's a desk light on beside me. There's one light on in the living room and, of course, the water heating is trucking away.
The problem is that power prices have risen to such a level that 'shopping around' for the best price and keeping the lights off in rooms not occupied, is barely putting a dent into the power bills.
Now people are keeping the heating off even in the depths of winter. People are keeping the water heating permanently off.
In the last five years of the Clark Government power prices rose by a massive 48 percent and rose some 72 percent over the nine years of that government. Prices have continued to rise under National despite the Minister of Energy Gerry Brownlee claiming he was going to do something about it.
As I'm writing this a news report has come over the radio outlining another price increase for Genesis Energy users.
'No government can promise to lower power prices.' Brownlee said last year. But that's only true because the country is still in the grip of neoliberalism.
What is especially galling is that these power prices have been imposed on us by companies supposedly owned by...us.
So its a bit rich for Phil Goff to warn that partial privatisation of the power companies will result in higher power prices when the last Labour Government did nothing about the escalating prices.
The real villain has been corporatisation which is the point Bryce Edwards makes on his blog:
Corporatisation ... .. was the method that the Fourth Labour Government used to make sure that its nationalised companies were running purely along the lines of the private sector . Instead of playing any socialistic role at all, the process of corporatisation meant that the State Owned Enterprises that Labour created would have no social function – only a profit orientation. Hence massive job layoffs occurred, post offices closed down, and all sorts of other negative social effects came about.
In 2007 I got incensed about the price gouging of the power companies and I had a less than convivial conversation with the Meridian Energy spokesman Alan Seay.
The conversation took a nose dive when Seay flatly denied that Meridian Energy had a social role to play in providing affordable power.
'We are a business'' said Dr Seay and although I was appalled by his comments, he was actually correct.
Under the SOE model power companies like Meridian have no social dimension.
As Bryce Edwards points out none of the present parliamentary parties oppose the corporatisation model. Certainly none are providing an alternative and this isn't surprisingly given that the parliamentary parties are united by their adherence to the failed neoliberal model.
So one must view the comments of Green co-leader Russel Norman with a certain degree of scepticism.
Said Norman yesterday: "Selling state assets to foreign corporations, which will inevitably happen under this plan, will drive up the current account deficit, send profits overseas and drive up costs for Kiwis."
But are Norman and the Green Party advocating the removal of the SOE model? No they are not because they are as much supporters of neoliberalism as the Act Party. The arguments are about emphasis and not substance.
We should demand measures that help ordinary people and oppose measures intended to prop up a failing economic system.
It's time to recover and nationalise natural resources and basic services, which previously belonged to the state.