Enjoying your skyrocketing natural gas bills these past months during one of the coldest winters that just swept the country? And think you're going to see some relief in your upcoming spring gas bills? Think again.
The gas price increased from 50 cents per therm in January to $1.21 per therm in April (People’s Gas Chicago prices)— an incredible rate increase of 140%.
At a time when the demand for gas has gone down. Way down. And, according to the “much lauded” principles of economic theory, the price should have also gone down.
The 140% rate increase means that if you use roughly two and a half times less gas now, in April, you will still be charged the same amount you were charged in January.
From March to April, when the demand had completely dropped to normal levels, the price of gas increased from 88 cents to $1.20— a price jump of 37% in one month.
So far, this 140% increase, from Dec/Jan to April, would be the equivalent of the price of gasoline going from $4 to $9.60… in three months. And flat out outrage would have been registered.
But not so with natural gas, where there has been a virtual black out of any media stories covering the economic strain placed on citizens forced to pay exaggerated gas prices— well after the cold front has passed and the demand for gas has dropped.
The only authority to regulate gas prices comes at the federal level. So it can only be assumed that the natural gas industry profits are in some way being protected by the Obama administration, which has been trying to boost the profits of the natural gas industry for several years and salvage some kind of economic track record of success from its otherwise abysmal two terms in office. Even apparently if it’s done off the economic backs of the public that can least afford the out of control and completely unjustified escalating gas price increases. (To speak nothing of the virtually completely unregulated fracking processes used to drill for natural gas and which is placing untold numbers of the American public’s health at risk from contaminated ground water supplies.)
Apparently the word has gone out to all mass media outlets to lay off any stories about abnormally hiked natural gas prices. Unless the media, and the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, suddenly and on their own, forgot how to detect the signs of price gouging.
But that was not the case nine years ago— during the Bush Administration.
Back in 2005, the Illinois Attorney General sued Peoples Gas on similar price gouging charges resulting from similarly inflated gas prices, as well as for People’s Gas being involved in a flagrantly fraudulent scheme to bilk natural gas customers out of well over $100 million, which involved “fraudulent natural gas transactions, sham companies, illegal agreements and questionable accounting and misrepresentations to consumers.”
While the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) added, “It…puts the utilities in the state on notice that they will not get away with underhanded schemes…designed to bilk their customers.” A fine statement except that CUB assumed such a notice was directed at fellow citizens with a conscience, instead of a corporation without one.
True to form, in countering the 2005 lawsuit leveled against it, Peoples Gas representatives assured everyone that is had done nothing wrong. Yet it later settled the lawsuit for $100 million.
Now, virtually the same results are being repeated by Peoples Gas in this current round of price gouging, but this time there is silence from the Attorney General’s office.
And while Illinois law (and similar state laws) prohibits natural gas distributors from earning money selling natural gas, the gas distributors, like Peoples Gas, profit from charging distribution fees to their customers. And the higher the gas price— the higher they choose to pay for buying gas (when lower prices are available)— the higher percentage is their profits. So if a corporation options to defraud the public for profit are blocked in one way— as a result of being sued for massive fraud in 2005/6— you can bet a corporation is always looking for another.
The truth about deregulation, and not the “political truth”
If you're pissed off about the gas hike— and the electricity hike going up nearly 40% in June— just thank all those politicians— Democrat or Republican or libertarian— you enthusiastically voted for in the past elections that regaled you on all the so-called economic “advantages” of free market economic theory, and their resultant deregulation agendas— or lax, to virtually non-existent regulations, which apply to the gas and electric industries.
And how deregulation (or lax regulation) is allegedly so great for your, and the world’s, economic security. Because it allegedly fosters competition among corporation and leads to a lowering of the cost of products and services, benefiting you, the citizen.
When the only thing deregulation really fosters is to allow corporations to be unbridled from responsible government regulatory oversight, so that once they establish their customer base they can raise their prices through the roof. Which is exactly what is going on now.
And the reason the politicians don’t give a damn of the effect on the public, is because they can’t relate to the problem as it impacts the vast majority of Americans. Because over 50 percent of them are millionaires, and the rest are in the top 5% to, at minimum, 10% of the wage earners of the population.
So for them, paying a couple of thousand extra dollars in gas prices, is like you, the average citizen, paying a couple of extra bucks.
While the political reason Washington politicians continue to support deregulation policies, despite these policies steadily driving Americans into poverty (and ill health, or premature deaths) as they make corporations a fortune, is that the politicians don’t want the responsibility of doing what any responsible government is supposed to do— protect the safety and economic welfare of their citizens— if that in any way comes in conflict with having to confront corporate profits, which are bankrolling their political candidacies and careers.
The truth about deregulation— or very lax regulation (think about the GM starter ignition fraud due to lax, derelict, or for all practical purposes, non-existent regulation — one of Barak Obama’s favorite corporations, along with the genetic modifying giant Monsanto, and the natural gas industry in general) is that deregulation policies only benefit the corporations that employ it, or the wealthy that invest in it. While you, the consumer, and your increased spending— created as a result of the increased deregulated policies— only increases corporate profits— not your savings (or your health).
Aside from the corporations and their Wall Street investors involved in the feeding frenzy that results off the economic windfall created by deregulation policies at the expense of the economic security of the rest of the nation, are those that are bankrolled by corporate and Wall Street funding.
And aside from the politicians, the next hugely significant group is the mainstream media. Along with their “well-respected” media pundits— like PBS’ “revered” Charlie Rose, and every pundit from the New York Times. Who, whenever they have the chance, wax poetically about the alleged society’s benefits of free market— national and global— deregulation, while at the same time reacting with “shock” whenever the reality of deregulation policies emerge. Like when lax regulation over GM ignition starters or failed airbag problems cause hundreds of otherwise avoidable deaths, or when 2-4 million Americans are seriously injured every year by laxly regulated pharmaceutical drugs, or when millions of Americans are forced further into debt by incompetently regulated public utilities, like gas and electric. And the list goes on and on.
If you’re still not quite getting how deregulations really works, just think back to 2007/2008, when the U.S. banking fraud capsized the world’s economy— a direct result of the Clinton Administration having deregulated the banking industry in 1997. (Before that it was regulated by common sense public interest regulation, set up by the Roosevelt Administration in 1933, through the Glass-Steagall Act).
Once deregulated, banks, like Chase and Citicorp, could make deals with insurance giants, like AIG, and Wall Street investment firms and hedge funds to speculate on the public’s money “secured” by the banks.
And when the whole fraudulent house of cards collapsed and the public lost $billions, the banks, the insurance giants and the Wall Street investment firms were bailed out with hundreds of $billions by the federal treasury, while the public was “bailed out” with lost jobs, bankruptcies and foreclosures.
And all Obama did when he “came to the rescue” was replace the same damn banking regulations that were in place for the past 60 years, and which never should have been touched in the first place.
Clinton was never blamed for the economic collapse, because it occurred a decade later, after he had left office, and during the Bush administration (not that Bush would have done anything different, since his father's and Reagan's administrations had been whittling away at banking regulation laws since the 1980s). But Clinton, and his Secretary of the Treasury, Robert Rubin (whose son and virtually all of Robert Rubin’s cronies were absorbed into Barak Obama’s economic team), along with the “revered,” Federal Reserve Chairman, Alan Greenspan— were all directly responsible. And were never held accountable for the massive damage they reaped on the U.S. public’s economic security.
Shocked you were misinformed about how deregulation really works? You should be about as shocked as Captain Renault in Rick's Café to learn that gambling is going on in a gambling establishment.
An aside on electric rates going up 40%-- at minimum.
Wonder why the electricity rates are also going up? One thing you can be dead sure of— they have absolutely nothing to do with regular standard incandescent light bulb use.
But for the past several years, "public service" environmental groups, like Greenpeace, and the Environmental Defense Fund, and the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) have lectured you on the “alleged” high energy drain of regular standard incandescent light bulbs, and their significant impact on global warming trends.
But since 100watt, 75watt, and 60watt regular light bulbs— those allegedly “massively electrical energy draining” bulbs— have now been removed from the market, how in the world can electricity demand be skyrocketing?
Electricity demand, or what electricity suppliers term, “capacity”— the cost of generating electricity to meet the demand— is expected to increase by 300% beginning this summer.
The reality is that the rising electricity usage— and its impact on global warming— never had one thing to do with standard incandescent bulbs use.
In case you’re interested— or maybe you just don’t mind getting various forms of cancer or some other debilitating disease conditions from exposure to the billions of compact fluorescent lights criminally fraudulently released into the market to offset the phantom energy drain of completely biologically safe standard incandescent light bulbs— light bulb electrical energy use has stayed absolutely stable since 1980, while high-tech product development has exponentially soared. And with it, so has electricity demand. And with it, so has global warming.
See also: “FRAUD: Regular light bulbs CAUSE global warming (CFLS PREVENT IT) part 1” at
And all the while, light bulb energy use has been a virtual nonfactor in this scenario— in this country’s, or any other country’s, electrical energy usage.
But the “alleged” light bulb energy drain, supposedly adding significantly to global warming conditions, is just one more lie you swallowed hook, line and sinker. A result of $millions spent in fraudulent public relations campaigns so that the high-tech industry and their massive energy draining products— in their production and usage— could be allowed to continue to pull in their unchecked profits. Profits off your backs— from consumers who can least afford to support them.
While even more repugnant, the light bulb energy draining lie was designed to assuage the consciences of “public service” environmental groups, who, though rightly concerned of global warming, were (and continue to be) protecting the greatest culprits of global warming— the high-tech industries, which they themselves were (and continue to be) heavily invested.
But for most, this reality is a little too tough to swallow— in this age where high-technology has been placed on some kind of unassailable pedestal.
The truth is that high-tech industries— and particularly the high-tech electronics industry— drains the most electrical energy from the massive electricity required to produce its complex and miniaturized electronics, and in the constant charging and running of its so-called “energy-efficient” high-tech products— from cell phones and computers to wireless products, to CFLs, to appliances and office equipment. And now, included in that mix, comes electric cars. Where do think the electricity to charge 300 pound electric car batteries is going to come from? Mars?
Electricity use is skyrocketing, and it has absolutely NOTHING to do with regular, standard incandescent light bulbs, which are now removed from the market and can no longer be fraudulently blamed for something they were never responsible for from the start.
Public utilities and services need to be responsibly regulated
Responsible regulation does not mean getting rid of the one safe, and electrical energy insignificant draining, product— the standard incandescent light bulb, and replacing it with billions of energy inefficient and multiple biologically hazardous, compact fluorescent lights.
See also multi-part series beginning with: “Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) Health Hazards, Pt1: Mercury Vapor” at: http://www.examiner.com/article/compact-fluorescent-light-cfl-health-hazards-pt-1-mercury-vapor
Nor does it mean forcing the entire U.S. population to buy Obamacare-endorsed healthcare insurance “to allegedly” improve their health, while the government continues to endorse and support non-regulated biologically hazardous industry products— from abnormal electromagnetic radiation (EMR) emitting cell phones and wireless products, to abnormal genetic modified foods and pharmaceutical drugs, to abnormal commercial and industrial chemicals, to abnormal molecular-altering nanotechnology— to continue to saturate, unchecked and unregulated for safety, into the market and the environment. Which are the only reasons why the U.S. public’s health is in the abominable state it is in— riddled with completely abnormal rates of cancers, fetal abnormalities, brain disorders and chronic disease conditions.
See also: “The Affordable Care Act: a fraud to allow the public to become increasingly sick” at http://www.examiner.com/article/the-affordable-care-act-a-fraud-to-allow-the-public-to-become-increasingly-sick
“Product safety regulations could cut health costs by $1 TRILLION per year, Pt 1 at: http://www.examiner.com/article/product-safety-regulations-could-cut-health-costs-by-1-trillion-per-year-pt-1
For all the lip service about so-called “transparency” of government regulation today, somebody forgot to do a little basic transparent explaining about basic concepts of deregulation— and in particular, when it comes to public services, like public utilities, or the public’s health.
Apparently somebody forgot to mention that corporations are out to do one thing, and one thing only— make the most profit they can for their investors.
And to make the most profit, they of course want to be the least regulated, so they can manipulate the market to their advantage to continue to make the most profit. Pretty basic. But apparently, pretty ignored.
So given this fact of life about corporate motives, you better make damn sure you keep private industry and its corporations miles away from even being remotely involved in public services.
And definitely not put them in a position where they can manage public services, virtually on their own— like with the gas and electric utilities— so that they can capitalize off the public’s vulnerability— by the public’s requirement to access the public services that they control, with no, to little, to completely derelict, regulatory oversight.
In case anyone has forgotten— natural gas is a PUBLIC UTILITY, not a personal or optional product, like a cell phone or a video game.
And because natural gas is a public utility, it needs to be responsibly regulated, to avoid the exact economic hardship its deregulation, or its incompetent regulation, or its intentionally incompetent regulation— and the accompanying and continually rising costs that arise from such inept regulation— is having on the vast majority of the public. And particularly on those who can least afford the present out-of-control gas prices.
If the natural gas public utility were honestly regulated by the government— as this public utility should be— the government would have enacted a freeze on gas prices during these past, coldest winter months the nation has experienced for several decades (and a freeze continuing on gas prices for the next several months to follow), to ease the economic strain on the public created by elevated heating costs.
Not for government regulators to twiddle their thumbs while gas prices were allowed to continue to soar and place the public in a worse state of economic security than it already was before the winter and spring of 2014.
Because even with a temporary gas price freeze, the gas industry would still have made plenty of profit, off the volume of gas sold.
But someone, at some level— and that level can only be at the federal regulatory level— is protecting the profits of the gas industry, even when regulation is nominally in place.
Because the absurdly exaggerated hikes per therm cannot be explained away by simple supply and demand economics— as the natural gas industry would like you to think.
The demand for gas is obviously far lower now than it was in December or January, but the gas prices have skyrocketed, regardless, to 140%.
Free market supply and demand economic theory— for the gas industry and suppliers apparently means that, regardless of supply and demand, prices are going to go up. And as far up as they can take them, if no one in an official capacity is going to challenge them. In order to sustain industry and corporate self-determined profit margins. Or in laymen’s terms— unchecked greed at the expense of the public’s pocket book
Just look at your past gas bills if you don’t believe this.
During the early spring of each year, the price per therm for gas lowers after the winter. But then the price per therm rises again to its highest level in the dead of summer— when there is the least demand for gas— to sustain a self-determined profit margin for the gas industry and its suppliers.
Apparently the strict adherence to the principles of supply of demand economics only apply to the public paying the costs, and not the corporations taking in the profits.
Or in other words it's a, do as I say, not as I do, free market policy.
Like listening to the nauseating pontificating of some overpaid Hollywood actor/celebrity extolling the virtues of a public school education, but making damn sure his kids go to private school.
Want REAL democratic/capitalism representation in Washington?
If the public really wants to be properly represented in Washington— to reflect its interests, and not the interests of millionaires— and if everyone still believes so fervently in the "capitalist system of democracy," then Washington should be forced to put its money where its mouth is, and start to represent the public based upon the public's economic status, and not hide behind a 200 year-old system of representation created by Constitutional writers who could never have foreseen how 200 years later, the United States would morph into a democratic unjust society of a minority of haves dominating a majority of have nots. Sort of the exact reason why American was created in the first place, if anyone is paying attention.
If politicians believe so fervently in capitalism, then let the country be represented in a democratic fashion that reflects its true economic, capitalistic, demographics.
Because then, and only then, would the representatives in Washington be accurately representing their constituents. And as a result, be capable of actually comprehending the real economic issues facing the public, and not of those facing their multi-millionaire, and multi-billionaire friends.
Here's a breakdown of the numbers of the public's economic status in America (according to 2012 statistics, which are basically the same as in 2013/14)
Roughly 35% of Americans earn $25,000 or less. So 35% of the current 534 U.S. Congresspersons should earn no more than $25,000 (or have earned this amount before entering Congress). That comes out to about 187 members. Currently there are 0.
Roughly another 35% of Americans earn $25,000 to $50,000. So 35% of the 534 should also only earn $25,000 to $50,000 (or have earned this amount before entering Congress). That’s another 187 members. Currently there are 0.
So for about 70% of Americans who earn $50,000 and less, there are ZERO representatives in Washington who can actually relate to their economic struggles— except to lend lip service to it.
About 20% of Americans earn $50,000 to 100,000. So 20% of the 534 should only earn $50,000 to $100,000. That comes out to about 107.
And about 10% of Americans earn over $100,000. So 10% of the 534 should earn over $100,000.
That comes out to about 53.
And of that roughly 10%, about 5% earn over $250,000. So only 5% of the 534 should earn over $250,000. That comes out to about 27.
And of that same 10% of Americans, maybe 2% or 3% are millionaires. So only about 2% or 3% of the 534 should earn over $1,000,000. That would be about 10 to 16.
Currently there are over 50% of Congresspersons making over $1,000,000 (or worth over $1,000,000). That comes out to 268. That’s about 20 times the number that should be there.
Still shocked why the policies that are beneficial to the vast majority of Americans are never even considered in Washington, and why corporate beneficial policies are steamrolled through every day?
So if you still think you can change a system that is inherently corrupted by money, by going through the same ineffectual avenues of calling up to protest or complain to your state Senator or House of Representative, who is likely one of the millionaires, and one of the problems, best of luck to you.
That source of change hasn’t worked for decades. And to continue to pursue it, basically means you believe you exist outside the universally acknowledged maxim that the definition of a fool is one who repeats the same action over and over again, but expects different results.
Or, if you want to wait until some time in the future, when society may magically change on its own, and believe in some kind of state of mind when the world and its collective citizens will reach some kind of nirvana enlightenment, perhaps inspired by the principles of Mahatma Gandhi— without understanding all the hard work and organization and sacrifice that really went into the changes created by Gandhi, best of luck to you too.
Of if you want to wait until there exists more equality of representation in Congress, by diligently waiting to vote in worthy candidates— providing those candidates even surface—to represent the true socio-economic status of the U.S public, again best to luck to you. Because there’s about as much chance of that happening as pigs flying. And that’s going to happen any time soon— even with the unchecked, deregulated pace of genetic modification going on today, and green lighted for the future.
Or, you can consider doing the one thing left for Americans who actually want to change things for the better, and want to do it in their lifetimes, and not in some fantasyland of the future. And begin to organize OUTSIDE Washington.
If you’re a bit confused on the concept— think of Washington as now representing the repressive British Empire of yore, and you now representing patriotic Americans of your, and once again fighting for you survival. Although now, since you’re all so evolved as human beings, you do it nonviolently, by using you brains (if cell phones haven’t completely turned them into mush at this point).
You start organizing an American Reform Movement in cities across the country, based upon one simple and critical goal— to fight for responsible, non-corrupted regulation, from which virtually all the major problems facing the society begin.
And not going off in a hundred different tangents as Occupy Wall Street did and ended up going no where, except to exhaust itself (despite its best intentions).
You keep things simple and focused and stick to a clearly defined, attainable goal of non-corrupted regulation.
Not to stymie the economy, but to sustain it— for the public that was designed to generate it, and to be employed by it. To protect the vast majority of Americans from the greed and criminal irresponsibility of the few in this country who are creating the greatest damages to the public’s economic security and health— to sustain their hold on power, and to perpetuate the policies that keep them rich at the expense of every other factor— including the basic principles of democracy upon which this country was founded— namely, at the expense of equal representation.
And it really isn’t that complicated a concept to accomplish. And you don’t even need a graduate school education to do it. Imagine that.
You just begin to form satellite groups in every city, where members donate maybe the grand sum of $10 per year, and you start to build up members and funds until you have enough to hire private lawyers to sue the corporations and the U.S. government for the fraud they are perpetrating on the U.S. public that is putting the public’s economic security and health at risk.
(But not like the current group of “public interest” environmental groups that take in multimillion dollar contributions from the very corporations that they are allegedly fighting, in the alleged name of the public’s interest.)
And eventually, you organize the individual city groups under a national movement— but all the while continuing to focus only on the same public-orientated, non-corporate/non-political-corrupted regulatory goals.
If you have any interest in how this very common sense approach of a solution could work for the vast majority of problems that have their origin at the regulatory level, see the article: “Antibiotic Misuse, Part 4: Fixing the corrupt U.S. regulatory system” at: http://www.examiner.com/article/antibiotic-misuse-part-4-fixing-the-corrupt-u-s-regulatory-system
And if you agree with the basic points presented in that, or this article, pass one or both along. And maybe some smart guys and gals with a bent for organization will read one or both and a light bulb (a non CFL or LED of halogen one) will be turned on in their brains. And who knows, maybe we can change this corrupted system for the better after all, and finally kick the bastards out of Washington.
Or at the very least, sue the hell out of them, and force them to change in the only way they understand. Through their pocketbook.