Sometime over the weekend as I was schlepping one of the kids around in the very cold weather, I was listening briefly to the right-wing radio station as I sometimes do to hear just how twisted and ignorant many people continue can be. Here in Ontario there has been some controversy surround the efforts of the present Liberal government's to promote various alternative energy sources and this was the topic of the conversation. On the heels of the last Tory government privatizing power in the Province, people's electricity bills have increased dramatically over the past few years. Of course, instead of just making the whole thing public again, the Liberal government is watching the prices go up with rather devastating results, particularly for the elderly and those with small incomes. I have argued before that areas of the economy that are vital to society such as health, education, and power, should not be private. It seems fairly clear that the so-called "market" is not an effective way of supplying these things, nor is it a very effective way promoting innovation in these sectors, particularly in the late stage of capitalism. Take the issue of power usage, whether in your home or in transportation. The massive costs of entry into the field of, say, car production for example, means that the market cannot effectively respond to the need for more economical and environmentally friendly vehicles. The fairly obvious collusion between the oil companies and the car companies have served to maintain the average mile per gallon of vehicles at more or less the same rate for more than thirty years. The improvements that have taken place have been shockingly small and the real improvements have largely been in the luxury car market. But while there has been a radical failure of governments to invest in public transportation or to compel the big car manufacturers to improve their vehicles' carbon foot-print, the cost of such efforts for newly formed private corporations makes a real 'market solution' almost impossible. This goes for electricity as well. The effort to create electricity manufacturing and infrastructure is far too high to allow for 'free market' solutions, and for any real innovation to take place we require hugh public investment. Thus while the Liberal Party in Ontario is failing to invest properly in public energy, they have attempted to make large investments in promoting the development of alternative energy production. Now some have claimed that these investments have been partly an effort to line the pockets of various Liberal friends who are in the business of wind and solar power. This may or may not be true, but either way this investment is demonstrably necessary.
But here is where the funny part of the story kicks in. So this right-wing commentator on the radio keeps saying that Ontario shouldn't develop its own power, whether alternative or not, because there is much cheaper power available right next door in Quebec and he tells us that we should just purchase this cheaper power. The irony is missed on himself and his right-wing audience because Hydro-Quebec is a publicly owned corporation, so purchasing cheaper power from Quebec is apparently this right-wing radio commentator's way of telling us that we should be using Public Power!
But there is also something else that is funny in the whole thing. This right-wing commentator tells us that all this expensive investment in alternative energy sources is not about 'making cheaper power' but is all about, by the energy minister's own admission, "green-house gas production" So, the commentator's conclusion is that it is therefore "all about ideology." And he actually thinks this constitutes an argument - if the dire need to prevent harmful pollution is the motive for changing the way we produce energy, then it is "ideology." This is like saying that the need to improve, say, school lunches is 'ideological,' or the need to have food and water inspectors and regulations is 'ideological.'
The right-wing can be amazingly simplistic in their arguments which often consist of labeling anyone who doesn't agree with them as part of a left-wing plot and then leaving it at that.