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It’s been a while

Since the blog went into an apoplectic outraged anti-capitalist rant so here’s a little one to get the day off to a good start…

Funnily enough, this time it’s been caused by our Prime Minister, David Cameron, saying… wait for it… something sensible. What he said yesterday was that consumers should be automatically paying their energy supplier the lowest price tariff, rather than what we have now which is a dizzying array of complicated pricing structures delivered to us in a format that needs a PhD in Pure Mathematics to begin to understand.

I have personal experience of this. We went through a period a while ago when someone was knocking the front door and begging to read the meters in the cupboard under the stairs every five minutes. Apparently this still couldn’t accurately inform EON’s billing department and we were slapped with a massive demand partway through the summer. When I tried to get to the bottom of it, the operative on the phone casually mentioned we might switch to a cheaper tariff. This sent me into orbit and I can’t even remember what I said. It took about a week to calm me down.

So I agree with David, this once. We should all be on the cheapest tariff. Why are there so many anyway? Then, this morning, some woman from the ‘industry’ popped up and said Cameron’s quite sensible and fair idea would ‘kill competition’. What? What! Excuse me if I am a simpleton about this, but, I thought competition was to offer the consumer the best price. What the energy companies have meant by ‘competition’ over the last few years is a competition between themselves as to who can fleece the customer the most and get away with it.

Fuel price rises every winter – when the demand increases? That sounds like a monopoly. A cartel. People living in fuel poverty and the government handing out our money to the energy companies in winter fuel payments so the elderly don’t die of hypothermia.

Say what you like, but the whole thing is a fucked up money making scam and the energy companies need shaking by the scruffs of their necks until all their stolen wealth falls out of their grasping little pockets. Perhaps Cameron is the man to do it. I doubt it, but it’s worth a try.

Greedy bastards

Surreal times

Is it just my own, erroneous, impression of the UK at the moment, or are we living in strange times that just don’t stack up if you apply even a smidge of critical engagement with the issues of the day?

This morning the BBC Radio 4 programme kept banging on in the news items about a speech Nick Clegg was going to make later in the day. Apparently, he was going to say something about the lack of social mobility in this country, and it needing to be addressed. When I looked for the speech after it had actually happened, it was no longer news. Extraordinary, what someone plans to say is news, until they say it, and then it is not.

There was also an interview about energy security and the need for investment in more power stations and the like. They always mention renewables at this time, but we know they are really talking about more of the same industrial scale generation or importation. If they weren’t, why would they care that China is now using more and more of the world’s gas… Now, despite the utility companies already having a licence to print money, there is a move to charge customers about another £100 a year as a hidden subsidy, so they can afford to build more power stations and charge us more of our own money that we can barely spare in the future.

I am not a fucking economic unit – I am a person. And, rather than cough up more money to British Gas or Npower or wherever, I would really rather generate my own, albeit variable supply of electricity, from a wind turbine on my roof, or whatever. But of course, the man won’t let me, because Planning says, ‘No’. And do you know what, Mr Expert on the radio? If my electricity runs out from time to time – I won’t care; in fact, it will be a relief. And do you know why? Because when the lights go out, I can be just me, the way I am meant to be and not some performing hamster running on the wheel of capitalist consumption.

And as I spent some time trying to get my head round the ludicrous nature of reporting things that haven’t happened yet, and us paying utility companies to build factories so they can sell us more crack, I mean energy, the IMF pops up with a forked tongue and throws me into complete cognitive dissonance.

The IMF say, on the one hand, that the UK government’s austerity measures are fine and dandy, and then on the other hand, and in the next breath, they say that the Bank of England must print more money for quantitative easing, consider cutting the interest rate even further (at 0.5% how low can you go before the shyster high street banks pass on the savings to customers, even as they increase mortgage interest rates this month), and the government should think about a lower VAT rate to help stimulate growth.

Nothing adds up, the world has gone completely cuckoo, and, yes mother, this is a rant.

The Lost Jockey by Rene Magritte: 1948 gouache on paper