Since the advent of the Internet, an increasing number of people no longer know what a phone book is. Thick, heavy tomes periodically updated and delivered to your residence – full of listings of people (White Pages) and businesses (Yellow Pages), their addresses and phone numbers. Back in the Cretaceous Period – this was how you found contact information.
We deliver this history lesson – to deliver the Yellow Pages Rule: If you can find it in the Yellow Pages – the government shouldn’t do it. Government should not open up shop and compete with private businesses. For a whole host of reasons.
One reason – the Wallet Rule: If you go out on a Friday night with your wallet, and you go out the following Friday night with my wallet – on which Friday night are you going to have more fun? Obviously, you’re going to have a whole lot more fun with my wallet – because you don’t care what my wallet looks like at the end of the evening.
Well, government is always on other peoples’ wallets – ours. In gambling parlance – they’re playing with house money. Government will never spend money as wisely or well as the people who earned it – from whom government takes it.
Because government is inherently hobbled by its Wallet-Rule-inherent ineptitude, they will look for other advantages – to try to keep up with their far faster and more agile private sector competitors.
Unfortunately, government can make its own advantages. Because government writes the rules under which its private sector competitors compete. So government rigs those rules against its private sector competitors. (See also: government schools versus private and charter schools.)
Government gets to tax private businesses – and then use their money against them, by funding government competitors to them. And government gets to regulate its competition as much as they wish. Government gets to slow down private businesses – all the way down to the speed of government. (Which ain’t at all great for We the Consumers.)
This is like a baseball game where the starting pitcher tosses the first half of the first inning – and then steps behind the plate to call balls and strikes in the bottom half. Think he’ll call the game fairly? You can’t have the arbiter between players – also be one of the players. It is quite obviously absurd.
This government-competitor-scenario inexorably grows government – and shrinks the private sector. Because private companies will always run out of money way before government does. Government doesn’t do it better – they can just last longer being terrible.
With the ultimate, inevitable outcome being – the government entirely crowds out and eradicates the private sector. This is one way government advocates seek to repeal the private sector – and replace it with government.
This ridiculousness is exactly what has long been happening in DC and all over the country. One example: broadband Internet service. Where government – which grossly over-regulates and over-taxes private Internet Service Providers (ISPs) – also becomes an ISP. The results? Predictably – disastrous.
With all of this in mind – why on Earth did famously-less-government Texas do this to its private electricity providers?: “In 1999, the 76th Texas Legislature authorized the State Power Program (SPP) under Senate Bill 7, Texas Utilities Code, making it the only legislatively enabled provider for electricity and related services solely to public retail consumers.”
Get that? The Texas government authorized itself to sell electricity – in direct competition with the private providers it taxes and regulates. Through their front “company” – Cavallo Energy Texas: “[Cavallo] is a privately held organization formed for the sole purpose of marketing and supplying the State Power Program with power, and serves as the authorized vendor administering the State Power Program.”
And since its 1999 inception, the inevitable has happened. Texas Government Energy has grown, and grown, and grown – squeezing down and then out more and more private providers. Cavallo Energy has become a ridiculously huge monster.
And any Texan who uses electricity – has suffered the consequences. Higher prices – and lesser service. Think Obamacare for the electric grid.
Thankfully, some in otherwise-usually-less-government-Texas recognize the problem. And have drafted legislation to fix it – by getting the government out of the “Electricity” section of the Yellow Pages.
Behold House Bill 1685/Senate Bill 736: “An act relating to the authority of the General Land Office to sell retail electric power.” Without further wading into the legalese, it creates a smooth and orderly process to end the government’s terrible role play as electricity provider.
Texas state Senator Kelly Hancock and state Representative Travis Clardy deserve serious credit for sponsoring the bills to end this nonsense. Their bills deserve serious support from their colleagues – as in overwhelmingly-passed support. Followed by a quick Governor Greg Abbott signature.
Let’s let government be government – and businesses be businesses. With never the twain meeting.
And let’s end all instances of these bright lines being dulled, dimmed, blurred – and ultimately outright erased.
This is a guest post by Seton Motley Founder and President of Less Government
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