Friday, June 9, 2006

The hidden costs of public monopolies

Like public health care, the sacredness of public utilities owes more to a general mental inertia in the absence of any countervailing models from which to draw examples than to any demonstrable benefits or to ethical arguments. And, as it turns out, the monopoly powers of public utilities allow them a great deal of legal latitude to dissemble or disguise the failures of their promised benefits and their unethical practices. Tom Adams' excellent skewering of Ontario Hydro in yesterday's Financial Post article is appropriately called Century of mayhem and is subtitled, "In its first hundred years, Ontario Hydro used its power to bankrupt private suppliers and seize their assets. Founder Adam Beck's legacy continues today."

[Wednesday] marked the 100th anniversary of the proclamation of the legislation creating the Ontario Hydro-Electric Power Commission. With this proclamation, Ontario Hydro's career of state-sponsored theft, perennial profligacy, phony accounting and conflicted regulation officially commenced.
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