The impression often given by thumbnail descriptions of the boondoggle in California--as we would call it in Canada, where we are following lockstep with these irrational right-wing policies--is that the solution is simply to allow the private, though thoroughly controlled companies pass on the--inflated--costs to the public. To any reasonable observer of current events, this steep rise in cost would indicate the abject failure of the policy that caused it; as it would in any other area. (None of this is to suggest that rfc 1394 is other than a good observer of current events, or that a particular perspective is taken.)

If the goal of deregulation is the free market, well, there isn't one that conforms to libertarian fantasies. If the state government in California forced PG&E and SoCalEd to do anything, like divesting their power generation facilities, even against their better, private enterprise judgment, in some misguided attempt to coerce a free market solution--well the oxymoron is evident.

Even long-term contracts do not alleviate the emtire problem--as the rise in prices for natural gas for the Ontario utility Enbridge demonstrate (Enbridge has long had long-term contracts); there is only a moderation of the steep rise in price.

I'm not even sure the reduction in long distance telephone service rates--and who gets the most benefit for that?--is worth the increase in the cost of local service--who gets the benefit of that without the complementary reduction in long-distance rates: so-called rate-rebalancing--also a feature on the Canadian common carrier scene; there is no mention of this in rfc 1394's write up above.

There is an ideological fantasy abroad in the world that promises an immense decrease in prices and tremendous increase in quality and service when areas once under public regulation are freed. It is promulgated when politicians say If its this good now, think how much better it will be when we let things go! inorder to gain election.

And when it fails; when the pragmatic among us point out the obvious failures of this unreasoning, and unreasonable public policy, not only in California, but also in Alberta, and in Ontario--all bastions of right-wing orthodoxy--we are told: it just needs one more fix, one more exercise of government power to enforce the free market.