The rising cost of living is hitting the working class hard. It's not just the energy bill hike and the threat of the lights going out. With inflation at 3% and growing, food costs are up, petrol and diesel are becoming unaffordable, and NIC rises loom. And then there are those who’ve been relying on the uplift of £20/w Universal Credit who are to lose even that, at the end of this month.
Why is this happening? Surely the “re-opening” of the economy should be a positive development? But no, not under this absurd capitalist system!
Their good old economic law of “supply and demand” means only one thing: that if demand goes up, suppliers raise the price! So as the pandemic has eased and more energy is required, even if there is enough supply - and we’re told there is - the gas producers seize the opportunity to make a packet. There’s been a 4-fold hike since August!
Indeed, it would even be in their interests to claim a shortage, to push the price up further. And by the way, despite all the Cold War revivalist messaging, this is probably not being caused by Russia’s Gazprom!
Here in Britain the problem is magnified many times over by the overblown, chaotic and unregulated energy market created by privatisation 35 years ago. Over 70 sub-suppliers, large and small, compete for customers, but only the “Big 6" have the wherewithal to hedge their bets. As one boss commented, his fellows treat the energy market like a casino! Already 10 of the smaller punters have gone to the wall.
But whether the government steps in to keep the crooked market going, whether Ofgem shifts customers to British Gas, or takes over as supplier of last resort, the cap on energy prices is to be lifted and bills are rising - by £139 this month and 14% next year!
And then there’s the CO2 shortage! Who would have thought that 2 fertilizer factories supply 60% of the NHS/industry requirement - and how come they were allowed to go bust, just like that?
There was talk of a “Northern Rock solution” to help the cowboy gas companies. Well, when Northern Rock crashed in 2007, heralding the banking crisis of the following year, it was nationalised.
Vital utilities like gas and electricity should certainly be in public ownership. But even if they were, there’d be no guarantee of improvement (think of the NHS!) - because it all depends on “who rules”. For now, the government says it has to make some “hard decisions”. Well, so do workers: it’s high time we decided to fight the bosses for inflation-proof pay rises!