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The Orwellian Thermostat

Orwellian ThermostatBack in the day, monopolistic utilities were benevolent dictators. In exchange for guaranteed profits, they provided reasonable service at reasonable prices. Also back in the day, citizens could expect minimal intrusion into their privacy in exchange for simply requiring government to follow the Constitution . We traded these reasonable and symbiotic relationship s for deregulated utilities that pillage their customers at will and government that intrudes any time it damn well pleases as long as President Buttmunch signs off on it. A recent proposal by the California Energy Commission borrows the worst traits from both.

They plan to put remote-contr olled thermostats in homes to cut power use during summertime electricity shortages. It’s not that controlling energy consumption is an unnecessary thing. It’s good for the environment, it saves money, and everyone gets a taste of precious wattage at a time when it’s scarce. But like many things that seem good on paper, this crapulent plan falls apart in the details.

A Big Comfy Quilt of Money
Previous experience shows that regulators and utilities already snuggle in a bed covered with a quilt of big money. It’s not a far-fetched notion that utilities would manufacture shortages to cut costs and regulators wouldn’t lift a finger to stop them. The late Ken Lay made a despicable art of this corporate rape.

The plan is also one more example of government dictating to its citizens instead of the other way around. We’re already listened to, filmed, monitored, and forced to disrobe to get on a frickin’ airplane. I’m in no mood for any more of this crap and judging from public reaction to this harebrained scheme, neither is the public. We’re not teetering on the edge of a slippery slope, we’ve slid to the bottom and shot off into shark-infest ed water like a watermelon seed being spit out at a redneck convention.

Electricity ala The Third World
Because of public reaction, regulators have scaled back the plan to make it optional. This is a tiny wiggle in the right direction, but highlights the stupidity of the plan. Currently, shortages are relatively rare. By and large, most people voluntarily honor the requests to conserve when needed and we avoid rolling blackouts like a war-torn, Third World country.

Personally, I don’t trust Big Business or Big Government. Unchecked, both institutions allow charlatans to take control and become menaces to society. I’m a big boy and don’t need the government to tell me when to turn my thermostat up. Pacific Gas & Electric also doesn’t need one more potential advantage over consumers - especially since they’re bumping jiggly bits with Big Government. If ever there was a domestic Axis of Evil, this unholy marriage of business and government is it.

To paraphrase Jerry Garcia, “Someone has to do something, it’s just incredibly sad it has to be us.”

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