TCS Daily

Water Torture

By Rand Simberg - April 5, 2007 12:00 AM

The government is telling me when I can water my lawn and wash my car.

I'm used to the government telling me that I shouldn't hold up liquor stores, or kill people because they looked at me the wrong way, or that I have to pay taxes, or which side of the road to drive on, or even how deep to bury my irrigation system. I can live with those things. But this notion that I can only water my lawn at certain times seems like a whole new encroachment on my liberty.

Then again, perhaps I shouldn't be surprised. Rather than defending liberties, which was what I was taught that the purpose of government was, it seems that modern government has decided that its role is instead to circumscribe them as much as possible.

What's the problem? Well, first of all, it's an issue of lousy weather forecasting. Remember what a terrible hurricane season we were supposed to have last year? The one that ended up fizzling?

Well, in anticipation of it, the South Florida Water Management District had decided to drop the level of Lake Okeechobee three feet, to reduce the chances of a catastrophic overflow and flood in the event of a storm last year. A storm that never happened. So much for the prescience of government bureaucrats.

As a result, because the lake is the major repository of water for south Florida, there was little slack in the system when we got an abnormally low amount of rainfall this year (cue here the usual suspects claiming that this is a result of global warming, as is any adverse weather event, with appropriate -- which is to say all -- blame accruing to George W. Bush).

So here we are, in the spring of 2007, with rain below average, with a low lake level, little else in the way of reservoirs, and a water shortage. What is the response?

Well, a rational response might be to price a scarce commodity such that people will use it only as they need it, and not frivolously.

But this is southeast Florida (which is not, contrary to geography, part of the south, but rather, the sixth borough of New York), so the response is not rational. Instead, we get the response of the local commissars.

So, not allowing the market to work, and not allowing prices to provide signals to the participants, they have decided to run our lives for us. Not well, mind you, but that's not the point, is it?

I live at an odd numbered address. That means that if I want to water my lawn, I can only do it on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday mornings, from four to eight AM. I can water my plants with a hose on the same days, but only between five and seven PM. My neighbors across the street, and behind my house on the next block, get Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Friday is apparently a day of rest for watering, for all.

I'm old enough to be reminded of another attempt by the commissars to allocate resources, without having to resort to that ugly market, with its inconvenient and inequitable prices and such. Over thirty years ago, in the first OPEC oil embargo, the government, rather than allowing prices to rise to account for the reduced supply, told people when they could purchase gas based on the parity of their license plate -- even one day, odd the next. My recollection was that this did nothing to alleviate the shortage -- the lines remained. The problem was only solved when Nixon-era price controls on oil were lifted, the market was allowed to work, and oil prices eventually (and it didn't take all that long) fell to historical lows.

Now here's the irony.

Before the restrictions, I'd noticed that my lawn was getting kind of brownish, but I also knew that the water situation was tight, and I'd been cutting back on watering for that reason. But once the bureaucrats told me that there were certain times that I could water without limit, I decided to use those times to the maximum. As a result, I'm almost certainly using more water than I was prior, and with no guilt.

Anyway, here's a radical concept. How about pricing the commodity to the market? Maybe, if people had to pay more for water to water their lawn, they'd use less of it? Yes, I know that it's hard to believe, but there really are some people out there who buy less of something if the price is higher.

But "wait!" I hear the commissars cry. What about the poor people, who will have to purchase a cheaper brand of pet food for granny if their bill to water their lawns goes up?

Well, ignoring the fact that poor people have deeper concerns than how green their lawn is, the solution to this is to provide a "lifeline" of cheap water to allow basic needs -- toilet flushing, drinking, dishwashing, bathing -- and then jacking up the price considerably for gallons beyond those required to meet those needs. So everyone can afford the basics, rich and poor, and those who want to grow rice in their backyard will pay through the nose. They can do it, but they will pay for it, not the rest of us.

I mean, it's not as though this is a completely foreign concept to the commissars. After all, while I'm not allowed to wash my car in the driveway, with my hose, on the wrong day, I can still take it down to the car wash and get it done any time I want, as long as I'm willing to pay the price. So the car wash owners must be purchasing indulgences from the commissars to allow them to service the aristocracy on the wrong days with the precious water. I don't know exactly how this works, but I've got to believe that it involves fees, kickbacks, and industry bribes. After all, if one doesn't allow the market to work, supply and demand have to be adjudicated somehow, right? And commissars, if they have no other talents, are superlative at ensuring the proper distribution of resources like that.



FL water bills
What are the water bills in FL?

Tucson instituted progressive water rates, the more you use the more you pay per unit.

Not many have lush green lawns in Tucson.

It is amazing what a free market can accomplish.

free market???- sounds like social engineering to me.
free market is when you out to multiple vendors who compete for your business. What you're talking about is government action (the water authority) using monopoly pricing power to achieve a planned end - social engineering; in fact, what you've been calling socialism. Glad you've come around.,

Taxation without precipitation
What lesson will the Water District learn from their adventures? They'll learn that an artificially contrived shortage will allow them to raise rates and take more money from the citizens.

What's the real lesson?

The Goracle spoke, hurricanes would spin and destruction would follow.

The acolytes took action, they prepared for the coming cataclysm. No expense was too great, no effort was too small. The Goracle had spoken.

But the acolytes misunderstood. When the Goracle proclaimed that hurricanes would increase and intensify due to global warming the Goracle clearly meant that hurricanes would decrease and weaken due to global warming.

The acolytes were wrong, the Goracle was very clear, but both got what they wanted... more government control over your life.

Let's suppose the actions taken in the article were by "Halliburton" instead of the "South Florida Water Management District", do you think the news coverage would have been different? Where's the accountability? Why in the name of the Goracle do people (a) believe anything any government official says and (b) want to give government any more power?

The Water District heard the global warming alarmists, they took the "necessary" action and they created a problem that didn't previously exist. Did nobody have the intelligence to ask "if we're going to have an above average hurricane season couldn't we also have a below average rainy season?". Sorry, my mistake, the concept of averages is not applicable to global warming.

Isn't there an object lesson about the US economy here? Of course there is. The real question is how many people will learn from that lesson.

Too many people
Marjon's right. Tiered pricing takes care of the problem a lot easier than having Waterless Wednesdays. But the root of the problem is improper planning, and too many people.

It's not just south Florida but every growing center in th country. Local governments encourage developers and worry about infrastructure later-- because they know it costs money, So they present the voters with a fait accompli-- thousands of new families with kids to be schooled. And then tell us we have no choice but to build new schools.

Same with the water-- there's usually only so much in the aquifer. And south Florida went through that water years ago. That's why it's home to the famous Super Bowl Flush.

Water engineers know the moment of peak use for public water comes at half time during the Super Bowl-- when everyone who's been holding it in for two quarters finally sprints to the john. In Miami this flush always pulls salt water into the city system, because there's no fresh water left in the aquifer and nothing between them and the Atlantic but permeable limestone.

One of the wiser uses we could imagine for government would be to tell places like that they're getting too big. A planning board would need to institute a cap on new permits, and tell the builders to spread the new growth somewhere else.

Here in NC we have the perfect example. Raleigh and Cary are clogged with fresh new people, and every tree in the vicinity is being cut down to squeeze in new homes for them. Taxes will have to double to provide all the streets, water & sewer hookups and schools these new arrivals will need. And just down the road there are poverty pockets like Henderson, losing population and jobs every year. It just arises from a failure to plan.

The perfect time to put in a building moratorium is when your water use approaches system capacity in the driest year. Anything else is insanity.

Too much sugar
Here's the other reason south Florida's running out of water:

Risk assessment
Which is worse, lowering the lake, not having any hurricanes and creating a "shortage" of water that prevents you from washing your car OR not lowering the lake, having hurricanes and having catastrophic flooding threaten peoples' health and the economy? Obviously the lake was lowered to mitigate (not eliminate) the risks of possible hurricanes. Even if it had been an active hurricane season (the activity dropped because of an El Nino that formed in June), that doesn't mean central Florida would have been hit. Somebody did a risk assessment and made the best decision they could. Had nothing been done how many people would have complained if a hurricane had hit?
And, btw, it's worth mentioning that it wasn't the "Goracle" that forecasted an above average hurricane season. It was the National Hurricane Center and the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University. CSU has a page explaining why the hurricane activity was lower than the pre-season forecast here:

Private water companies.
I would support private water companies supplying water to its customers at whatever price the market will bear.

Everyone can have a tank on their roof and a water truck will bring in the water.

Why should hurricane predictions be trusted this year?
"This is the nature of the seasonal or climate forecast problem where one is dealing with a very complicated atmospheric-oceanic system that is highly non-linear. There is a maze of changing physical linkages between the many variables. These linkages can undergo unknown changes from weekly to decadal time scales. It is impossible to understand how all these processes interact with each other. It follows that any seasonal or climate forecast scheme showing significant hindcast skill must be empirically derived."

The danger of not putting predictions in context with apropiate uncertainties is the boy who cried wolf syndrome.

Why should any predictions be trusted now?

Just Say NO
“Which is worse, lowering the lake, not having any hurricanes and creating a "shortage" of water that prevents you from washing your car OR not lowering the lake, having hurricanes and having catastrophic flooding threaten peoples' health and the economy?”

The answer may be…NO to flooding, NO to rationing and YES to a managed water system that mitigates the extremes of flooding and rationing…but at a higher cost.

The Florida “COMMISARS” should develop and submit for voter approval a Managed Water System alternative:
1) Enhance the current water infrastructure to include the transport of desalinated water from the gulf/ocean into depleted aquifers or above ground storage (such as Lake Okeechobee).
2) Charge higher water rates to finance the system. Tiered rates based on usage should be included in the proposal as appropriate.

Floridians should have the option to choose a secure water supply at a higher cost. If Floridians prefer rationing or flooding, then so be it.

Crying wolf
But hurricane predictions are ALWAYS contingent on caveats and uncertainties. Everyone knows that-- even you.

The point Tophe67 was making was, in our post-Katrina environment, would you rather make a decision disregarding the danger of flooding, and have it flood? Or would you rather err on the side of caution, and end up only with a temporary shortage of water?

"Forecaster William Gray said he expects 17 named storms in all this year, five of them major hurricanes with sustained winds of 111 mph or greater. The probability of a major hurricane making landfall on the U.S. coast this year: 74 percent, compared with the average of 52 percent over the past century, he said."

Based upon a prediction like this, FL officials will be justified for creating a water shortage?

Maybe if the Federal government did not subsidized floods and disasters people would either leave or build stronger houses.

Few practical solutions
Such a question is unlikely to ever be referred to the voters for a host of reasons. Among them are:

1. Florida has screwed up their hydrology so much they are hesitant to install another expensive and unproven system to catch water-- every system historically has caused things to go haywire.

2. Nowhere to put it-- other than in Lake Okeechobee. SF is flat and built like a sponge. Maybe hundreds of giant storage tanks?

3.The current regimen water distribution is being run for the benefit of the sugar growers-- not for the voters. Letting the voters have a say would be to let the cat out of the bag. You'd have to educate them as to where the water was really going.

Before considering something as expensive as desalination it would be useful to contemplate how much Big Sugar is paying for their share of south Florida water.

Go for it!
But you're still going to say that the "free market" led to (very laudable) scalable pricing structure in Tucson??

>Everyone can have a tank on their roof and a water truck will bring in the water.

Great way to do landscaping too. Is that what you're doing?

If not - you do realize you are supporting and endorsing what you call "socialism," don't you??

And water customers can just take their business elsewhere if they don't like the private company!!
This is amazing:

>I would support private water companies supplying water to its customers at whatever price the market will bear.

Sure. Customers have lots of bargaining power in this situation, don't they. Or is the idea you have six or seven sets of pipes serving each town.

Careful - if you don't watch out you'll be endorsing socialism!!

Water tax?
In Ontario, Canada they are proposing a tax on producers of bottled water. The producers are simply bottling water that they draw directly from the Great Lakes.

Here in Vancouver BC (in the middle of the largest rain forest in North America) we regularly have water shortages during the summer, with the usual water restrictions.

What I'd like to know is: when water restrictions are imposed, why aren't producers of bottled water (and car wash businesses) told they'll have to shut down, for the collective good of the community?

Here in Vancouver, they try to wait until the last possible moment to announce water restrictions. It's a huge joke, because usually within a week of the announcement it will rain the 2 weeks non-stop.

Another question: what is so special about watering between 4am and 8am? I understand watering the lawn in the middle of a hot sunny day is wasteful - most of it will evaporate. But what's wrong with watering at 10pm?

Eric, ever hear of gas and electric deregulation? I can purchase my natural gas and my electricity from a number of different vendors, all of which have DIFFERENT prices, but still via the same transmission path. They just pay the owner of the pipes or the wires a fee (well, actually I pay it).

The same could be done for water pipes.

Yes, Eric, the free market CAN work. And I DO have bargaining power by choosing which provider I can go to, and yes, I DO save money.


Tell me about it
Energy deregulation worked so incredibly well in California, if you just ignore the criminal conduct of the companies who conspired to jack up prices. But wait - it wasn't a disaster for everyone. Places with public power operations, like Los Angeles, avoided the worst runup.

Regarding the brilliant idea of sharing the water pipes: sure, if you have a source of water that's yours and nobody else's and you can establish a claim. You might read a little water law to see how difficult this can be.

>Yes, Eric, the free market CAN work.

Sure it can. Nobody ever said it couldn't. But government can work too. Is that hard to say?

On the farm, we had well water.

Probabley through some government program, it was decided that a rural water system was needed.

But people had a choice whether to pay to be hooked up.

People used to do that. Form co-operative utilities to reduce the capital costs.
Note, these were co-operative companies. NO force or taxes were used to fund them. ONLY the voluntary participation of the members.

Now utility companies are monopolies (government protected).

Again, note the key difference force (socialism) or persuasion (free market).

"But government can work too"
And you prefer it?

I look at results, not ideology
And prefer what works better. You apparently have different priorities.

Read about water, why don't you??
It flows. This makes ownerhip hard to determine. There's a huge amount of law on the subject.

>Probabley through some government program, it was decided that a rural water system was needed.

Probably you and your neighbors were overtapping your aquifer and would soon be high and dry unless government brought in the wet suf.

>eople used to do that. Form co-operative utilities to reduce the capital costs.
Note, these were co-operative companies. NO force or taxes were used to fund them. ONLY the voluntary participation of the members.

And nobody's arguing against them, or saying that there's anything wrong with them. More power to 'em. The point you're ignoring is the applicability of the model has limits.

>Now utility companies are monopolies (government protected).
Sure they are. Because competition is destructive. Read the history instead of giving an reflext ideological answer.

>Again, note the key difference force (socialism) or persuasion (free market).

the word you're looking for is "government," not "socialism." Why not say "square" when you mean "rectangular?" Or "English" when you man "Portuguese?"

What Lemuel the Liar "forgot" to say
is that the government in California DIDN'T deregulate the entire energy market. They only deregulated some of it, thus guaranteeing the worst of both worlds.

A fuller response
"Maybe if the Federal government did not subsidized floods and disasters people would either leave or build stronger houses."

Yes. I can see the federal government advising people they weren't going to help, so everyone should abandon habitation between the Texas coast and Long Island. That's the zone in which devastating hurricanes are bound, in time, to occur.

And since Andrew, both the affected states and the insurance companies have been applying pressure to revise building codes and standards upward. So that's already been done.

For the past several seasons, preseason forecasts have all been wildly off base. I would think if I were in charge of a state's emergency management agency, I would wait until a potentially dangerous storm were forecast to hit my area. Then and only then would I draw down the reservoirs that were subject to flooding.

That would be the prudent way to manage the emergency. Naturally, such talent is getting harder and harder to find nowadays-- even though Brownie was doing a heckuva job.

Obvious Solution
If there's too many people, there's an obvious solution. We can obtain the membership lists for groups promoting negative, reduced or restricted population growth, administer a properly sufficient and painless lethal agent and problem solved!

So sweet..
Another den of government iniquity, with subsidies, tax breaks and the like-sugar production.

The law of unintended consequences strikes again.

What snelson the snotrag doesn't understand
That the plan was billed as deregulation that would save all the consumers money. Instead, the consumers were robbed blind by Enron and other crooks. Now snotball wants to blame "government" for this. This is like saying that someone who was beaten and robbed by a gang of thugs deserved what he got because he was carrying lots of money.

Calling it deregulation does not make it so.
So who has the power to 'de-regulate'?

The government?

If I recall local CA utilities were not allowed to pass along wholesale costs and were forced to purchase power from some regional authority.

Doesn't sound like de-regulation to me.

Eye of the Storm
" Since it's in a hurricane-prone area, Paul designed the Eye's ground level with eight huge openings - five of which are large enough to drive through. In bad weather, particularly a hurricane, storm surge rushes through the openings under the house, often leaving debris in its wake, but the main structure unharmed. Pilings sunk into the crust or solid part of the substrate also contribute sturdiness."

For the past several seasons, preseason forecasts have all been wildly off base."

But the 'experts' are dead nuts correct about CO2 causing ALL the global warming.

That's one way to do it
A less intrusive method would be to discourage new development, once it was seen that available resources would be depleted by a larger population base.

Naturally I realize this kind of thinking is anathema to local politicians. Discourage growth?? Say whaa??

Sensible construction
Here on the Hurricane Coast stilts are the standard construction. Beach homes have a concrete core on a heavy slab, to hold the house up. But mostly it's just carport below. You live on the upper floors.

Good roof trusses and proper fasteners help a lot too. South Florida was notoriously lax before Andrew. It was a costly lesson for them, and they beefed up their codes after.

Dept. of False Claims
"For the past several seasons, preseason forecasts have all been wildly off base."

"But the 'experts' are dead nuts correct about CO2 causing ALL the global warming."

Weather forecasting has nothing to do with the physics of climate change. If you have a system in equilibrium, and add greenhouse gases, it WILL become warmer. It has no choice.

Plus, I guarantee you will not find one single "expert" who says CO2 causes all global warming. There are many inputs to changing atmospheric temperature, both positive and negative. Their net effect can be approximated by vector analysis, and the result compared to observed values. That's the way they are doing things.

If I may say so, you have kind of a simplistic view of the debate. Taking a course in atmospheric physics would definitely have helped your perspective.

Get used to it
Think this is bad -- just get used to it my friend as our politicians (demo) will continue to erode our rights as they are elected -- and that is guaranteed. Just hang on to your wallet and pay the price man...Maybe you can buy watering rights like Mr. God Gore does by paying for offsets. Good luck buddy...

You need to define "what works better".
You prefer a government solution.

It works best for socialists and those who want to control others.

My priorities are to find the most efficient solution to any problem.

I have yet to find any government solution that is the most efficient.

The Supreme Court believe CO2 must be the cause. That settles it.
How do you define equilibrium?

What is the volume? 1 cubic meter? 10 cubic meters? 1 cubic mm, 100 cubic km?

Don't Worry. Water Utilities Get Monet Regardless.
I went through several droughts in Southern California. One sever one in the early 90s had water utilities asking people to cut back. The customers responded by voluntarily reducing usage. What was their reward?? Increased rates. Not to discourage use, but to make up for lost revenue. Reduce demand, increase price but not necessarily supply.

Blame assignment vs risk assessment
"Obviously the lake was lowered to mitigate (not eliminate) the risks of possible hurricanes."

Nope. That is incorrect. The lake was not lowered to mitigate the risks of a possible hurricane, the lake was lowered to mitigate blame in the event that the storm surge from a possible hurricane caused the lake level to rise sufficient to cause Katrina-like flooding.

There was, in fact, no risk management. It was all based on fear. It was based on the notion that government officials could then say "we did all that we could".

At the very least risk management would have considered how long New Orleans has existed, how long the citizens of New Orleans knew the disastrous consequences that could result from the "perfect" storm, and how long those same conditions have existed in Florida. It was fear driven by media hysteria that caused the government officials to "do something, even if it's wrong".

The proper course would have been to document and publish the decision making process. The proper course would have been to tell the citizens that "this is our decision, this is how we made that decision, these are the alternatives that we looked at, and this is why we reached the decision that we reached". The proper course would have compared and contrasted New Orleans to Florida.

There was no risk management, there was no leadership, there was no good governance. There was, however, a great deal of reactionary activity based on fear.

Dr. Bean
As Dean of the Dept. of False Claims, can you verify that the Earth is in equilibrium? Or is this simply a classroom construct to support a forced outcome?

"Plus, I guarantee you will not find one single "expert" who says CO2 causes all global warming." Interesting that you put expert in scare quotes. I wouldn't, myself, since you are correct -- real experts would never make this claim, only the phoney "experts" would.

Heads I win, tails you lose
If government does something right, private enterprise gets credit for the result in your book. If it does something wrong, it's an illustration that government can't do anything right.

>If I recall local CA utilities were not allowed to pass along wholesale costs and were forced to purchase power from some regional authority

Look it up.

You need to learn the simple meaning of simple English words
"Works better" is not complicated.

>It works best for socialists and those who want to control others.
Please show how "socialists" benefit from the utility arrangements discussed, as opposed to the general public. Yes, it prevents some would be entrepreneurs from gouging. What does "socialism" have to do with this?

>My priorities are to find the most efficient solution to any problem.

They obviously are not, judging from your ideological response to this problem.

>I have yet to find any government solution that is the most efficient.
Because you have ruled one before you start thinking about it.

Bottom line, CA electricity market was NOT de-regulated
"Analysts point to three features of the restructuring plan that go a long way in explaining how the stresses of extreme market conditions in the summer of 2000 pushed California's utilities into debt and led to supply disruptions in the state. Those features are the freeze on retail prices, the restriction on long-term contracts, and the design of the PX and CAISO markets. The first two features created a financial disaster for the investor-owned utilities when wholesale electricity prices began to rise. The third feature exacerbated those financial problems by letting independent producers avoid limits on wholesale prices and, perhaps, by enabling them to exercise their market power to raise prices even further. However, the restructuring plan did not and could not alter all of the western power market, much of which remained regulated by other states and the federal government."

"Initially, the freeze on the price that retail customers could be charged for electricity acted as a price floor. The idea was that if wholesale prices fell (which they were expected to do), retail prices would not fall along with them. That would help maintain the utilities' cash flows, although it would also keep consumers from enjoying the benefits of competition at the wholesale level. In the summer of 2000, however, wholesale prices rose above the fixed retail price for a sustained period. When that happened, the freeze acted as a price ceiling: utilities could not pass on their rising costs to consumers.(27)

Not allowing retail prices to change with conditions in the wholesale market had three important effects. First, and critically, when wholesale prices rose, net cash flows for the investor-owned utilities fell, which made it impossible for them to continue distributing electricity profitably. Instead, they had to sell at a loss. Even though the utilities are required to meet all of their customers' needs for power, their financial difficulties have forced them to curtail service on several occasions (through brownouts and blackouts).(28) Second, the price freeze probably discouraged new retail sellers from entering the market. Third, the freeze diminished whatever incentive retail customers would otherwise have had to reduce their electricity use. Such a reduction could have helped dampen some of the upward pressure on wholesale prices. "

What do you want to "work better"?
If your goal is more government power, then socialism works better.

If your goal is more liberty, less government and greater economic prosperity, then socialism does NOT work better.

What do you want to "work better"?

water supplier
Hey guys, don't worry, guys like Lemuel are the ones who say that water is too important for free markets, that you have to have the government run it. I believe they say the same about, mail delivery, disaster relief, medicine, and there's even a rumour that they think food is also too important, so they want either HUD, or FEMA to control all food in the US(or was it the DEA?)

bottom line: you think the specific de-regulation scheme was a bad one
So do most Californians. So what??

>The first two features created a financial disaster for the investor-owned utilities when wholesale electricity prices began to rise.

These (private) utilities were the biggest advocates of the deregulation plan. They lobbied heavily to make it happen.

Look at the record
with respect to government getting out of the drinking water business, (actually,before government got into the business; why government got into the business) we're looking at cholera epidemics. Is the idea we want to go back to this?

another phoney issue
This issue is just as phoney as the one about energy. Do people really think that if the government doesn't control it, there would be no water or energy? It's amazing that in spite of all the good suggestions by commentators above, some still clamour for the a nanny state to provide. Can't these guys ever get off their mommas titts?

slogans,slogans and more slogans
We aren't talking in abstraction. We're talking about water.

>What do you want to "work better"?

water available in a sustainable fashion at a non-extortionate price. Is this complicated?? Why do you keep bringing the word 'socialism" instead of "government" into this mix?

It was NOT de-regulation. The term used by CBO was restructuring.

"non-extortionate price"
Does that mean subsidized?

People will pay pretty high prices for bottled water and complain about a few extra cents to flush the toilet or water the grass.

How are do you plan to "make it work better" without using government coercion?

Horrrors!!! horrors!!!
What's going on. First you praise your local government water agency for its sensible tiered pricing policy. I note that given your extreme views on government, this makes you a supporter of what you call "socialism." So you launch into a series of diversions that goes everywhere but to the question Iraised.

"Non-extortionate" prices means exactly what it says. A private business has to make a profit, and (if the market will bear it) charge much more. A government agency doesn't have to, and can charge less. It can even offer a special rate for very poor customers, something I know will blow your ciruits.

>How are do you plan to "make it work better" without using government coercion?

You've just given an example from your experience in Tucson. Are you really that completely embedded in ideology?

It WAS deregulation, and was so called by everyone during the episode
Here's the wikipedia summary,

While initially the cause of the crisis was defined as being caused either by poorly structured deregulation or by market manipulation, after extensive investigation The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) concluded in 2003:[2]
" imbalance, flawed market design and inconsistent rules made possible significant market manipulation as delineated in final investigation report. Without underlying market dysfunction, attempts to manipulate the market would not be successful."
"...many trading strategies employed by Enron and other companies violated the anti-gaming provisions..."
"Electricity prices in California’s spot markets were affected by economic withholding and inflated price bidding, in violation of tariff anti-gaming provisions."
In summary, poorly structured deregulation which relied on active policing by the FERC led to situations where energy companies could manipulate the California energy market with near impunity and reap substantial profits at the expense of California energy consumers and the State.
Most proponents of deregulation suggest that the major flaw of the deregulation scheme was that it was an incomplete deregulation -- that is, "middleman" utility distributors continued to be regulated and forced to charge fixed prices, and continued to have limited choice in terms of electricity providers. Other, less catastrophic energy deregulation schemes have generally deregulated utilities but kept the providers regulated, or deregulated both.

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