Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


We Are Being Ripped Off | 500 Words

We Are Being Ripped Off | 500 Words


Cartoon by Martin Doyle - Click for big version

Later today we expect Prime Minister John Key to kick off the final countdown to the sale of a 49% stake in Mighty River Power.

As he does so the level of acrimony we can expect in political debate will rise. (Acrimony = "harsh or biting sharpness especially of words, manner, or disposition" )

Which is not to say that there are two sides to this debate - however much the cheerleaders say there are benefits to the NZ Capital Markets.

Bottom line this is not about benefiting anyone other than share-brokers, merchant bankers, company directors and investors.

It is not a democratically supported decision:


- a clear majority of the New Zealand public are opposed to this sale;
- a referendum will be held later this year; and
- the sale is taking place against the clear stated wishes of Maoridom - the Tiriti O Waitangi treaty partner;

There is no economic rationale for the sale i.e. no basis to believe - beyond blind faith and chauvinism - that this sale will result in any economic gain, either to the country, the government or us individuals as citizens and ratepayers:


- Treasury - using basic math - has told us that the deficit will increase faster as a result of these sales - due to the fact that the investment returns on the capital employed are substantially higher than the current cost of borrowing;
- We will all pay for it in higher electricity prices as private shareholders demand a higher return on their assets than the government would have been expected to (the government is moderated by fear of upsetting its voters - shareholders are not).

But the biggest negative in this sale is neither of the above.

If NZ sells down its electricity assets it will cut off a golden opportunity to pursue a bold and imaginative future.

NZ is in a position to become the first fully carbon neutral country. We could be the first smart energy country in the world.

We are already way ahead of the rest of the world in terms of renewable electricity. And we could get close to 100% on the electricity side of the equation - provided we have the right regulatory systems in place.

Yes we could.

But not if we sell the power companies.

Why?

Because:


1. We would almost certainly need to do a radical shakeup of the energy regulatory regimes in order to achieve this objective;
2. It would not be in the interests of the shareholders in the power companies for this to happen - they are powerful and rich and would oppose it - and then it would get too hard;

Or if you are inclined to disagree with (2).

3. Taxpayers would be required to compensate the shareholders in the power companies to make it in their interests to consent. Best case scenario they will be enlightened and the Govt. would only need to sweeten a reform package. Worst case - NZ signs a Trans Pacific Partnership agreement with investor state enforcement provisions in it and we have to pay a direct financial penalty to the shareholders.

This is 1987 all over again. A privileged elite is bulldozing through a policy against our wishes which enriches the personal short-term financial interests of a few at the expense of us all.

In short, we are being ripped off.

- Alastair Thompson | 500 Words 4/03/2013 8:59:58 a.m.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Gordon Campbell: On The Myopia Of The Business News

Listening to the business news is a bit like eavesdropping on the radio transmissions from space aliens. There is no discernible connection between the concerns of the captains of these space ships – the bank economists and the finance house spokesmen – and the concerns of ordinary listeners back on Planet Earth. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Clinton, Sanders, Trump And Cruz

Come November, the world will have a new US president-elect and the least unlikely winner still looks to be Hillary Clinton. Right now though, the polls are showing a rocky stretch ahead for her in the immediate future. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Sean Penn And El Chapo - Vanity, Hollywood And Reportage

Leaving aside Sean Penn’s personal history with drug use, let alone alleged efforts to get a slice of celebrity in portraying a drug lord, the furore surrounding his interview with El Chapo is instructive in a few respects. One is worth noting: the blind rage it has provoked with some US political figures and advocates who show how utterly lacking in understanding they are of their own liberal market system... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Podemos, And Spain’s Election Stalemate

By hard grassroots effort, it convincingly rejected the fragmented, individualising forces that had shaped political life for the past few decades – instead, it organized its supporters on the basis of their common, communal experience via collective decision-making aimed at rolling back (a) the austerity-driven cutbacks in public services and (b) the home evictions of those unable to meet their mortgage payments. More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Merkel, Refugees And The Cologne Attacks

Huge pressure was already on Angela Merkel’s shoulders prior to the New Year celebrations. When it came in its waves of chaos on the eve, the security services in Cologne were found wanting. The police document from Cologne, leaked to Der Spiegel, speaks of chaos and lack of control. More>>

NZ Media In 2015: ‘Digital First’ Strategies Put Journalists Last

Journalism in New Zealand is threatened by the constant culling of editorial jobs and current affairs programmes… Additionally, journalists investigating issues which are in public interest have become under scrutiny as seen most clearly in the cases of Nicky Hager and Heather Du-Plessis Allen. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news