The Plastic Hippo

December 4, 2013

The magnificent seven

Filed under: Environment,Media,Politics,Rights,Society — theplastichippo @ 2:59 am
Tags: , , ,
Power to the people

Power to the people

Any suggestion that the big six energy companies are operating an illegal cartel to fix gas and electricity prices to ensure massive profit is entirely erroneous; there are a magnificent seven gunslingers in the illegal cartel.

Akira Kurosawa`s superb “Seven Samurai”, released in 1954, told the story of noble warriors protecting simple farmers against evil, pillaging bandits. Hollywood updated the scenario into the wild-west with “The Magnificent Seven” released in 1960. Later, in 1998, Pixar used the same story in “A Bug`s Life”. The 2013 version is a little more complex. We still have the evil, pillaging bandits and the slightly camp cowboys and the hopelessly inept circus troop but we simple farmers might be a little confused as to who the mercenary protectors are and who the pillaging bandits might actually be.

The big six mercenaries “serve” 90 per cent of domestic customers, control 96 per cent of the energy market and, since privatisation of the industry in 1990, have enjoyed some rather splendid profits which has allowed their executives to ride the gas range with saddle bags stuffed with gold bonuses. The biggest beasts are Centrica British Gas and SSE, both British owned companies who undoubtedly pay their full share of corporation tax and would never dream of making a financial contribution to the Conservative Party. Next are German owned npower and E.ON followed by EDF based in France and Scottish Power who live in Spain. It is good to know that anti-European rhetoric does not include any criticism of lovely foreign corporations and their lovely shareholders when it comes to making a fast buck. The big six, however, could not possibly achieve this price-fixing monopoly alone. Enter the seventh samurai in the awesome shape of the UK coalition government.

Ed Miliband threw a spanner in the works by suggesting a three year price freeze on energy bills if Labour achieves power the 2015 election. This seems a marvellous idea and gained lots of headlines but, as is so often the case with Labour policy, the reaction had not been fully thought through. Almost immediately, some of the big six announced their own price freezes suggesting that the cartel took a Labour victory seriously. However, very few people noticed that energy bills would be “frozen” at a level that would ensure predicted profit, share dividends and bonuses as envisaged in 2018. By sheer coincidence, energy companies announced an increase in tariffs just days later.

The coalition government huffed and puffed on behalf of the other samurai stating that the price rise was essential to invest in crumbling infrastructure, the alarming increase in the price of bulk power and to fund the stupid green levy introduced by the previous government. The crumbling infrastructure was bought, paid for, installed and inherited from a nationalised industry 23 years ago. It would seem that profit, dividends and bonuses were more of a priority than investment. The price of bulk power is determined by the magnificent seven who buy and sell the stuff to each other. The stupid green levy is incredibly stupid because who on earth would want cheap renewable power and who in their right mind would wish to see greater energy efficiency getting in the way of juicy profit. Oh yes, the magnificent seven.

Dismissing the 31,000 predominately elderly and poor people who died last winter from what is charmingly described as Excess Winter Mortality, the coalition government will no doubt view this as a blessing as the corpses were old and sick anyway and were a burden on the rapidly disappearing state. The 29 per cent increase in deaths correlates remarkably with the increase in last year`s energy bills. Now there are some rabid anarchists that suggest that a 21st century “civilised” and prosperous nation should provide basic utilities such as water, heating, lighting and the wherewithal to cook food with general wellbeing as the motive rather than profits, dividends and bonuses for senior executives. They, of course, are completely out of touch with the real world. Nationalising oxygen will only result in the poor and the elderly becoming dependant on hand-outs of free air.

As we approach the year of the horse, who can tell what 2014 will bring? One thing seems certain; there will be an eighth samurai who will come riding over the ridge with saddlebags full of gold to bankroll the building of nuclear power stations and protect our human rights. In Chinese astrology, the year of the snake ends on January 30 2014. What could possibly go wrong?

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