Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Proposed electric monopoly wants customers to pay the costs of firing workers

There are stories that Chinese communists would execute prisoners with a gun shot to the back of the head and then charge the prisoners' families for the bullet.

Executives from the likely-to-be-merged Duke Energy and Progress Energy companies must have taken these stories to heart.

In a hearing yesterday by the North Carolina Utilities Commission, which is considering whether to approve the companies' merger, executives made this jaw-dropping admission.
The chief executives of Duke Energy and Progress Energy said Tuesday that their companies will have to raise electricity rates to cover the cost of severance payments that will be paid to employees who lose their jobs as a result of the utilities' merger.

Who pays for severance costs remains the single biggest unresolved issue related to the Duke-Progress merger, which was announced in January and is expected to close before the end of the year.
The merger, which would reduce the already meager amount of competition in power generation, is expected to cost 2,000 workers their jobs. Many of those jobs would be in North Carolina.

It's bad enough that this unnecessary merger will weaken a struggling economy. Now energy executives and the companies' shareholders want local customers to foot the bill for the companies' destruction of jobs.

Somewhere a Chinese communist is smiling.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Austerity killed the radio star

The Washington Post reports
After more than a year of aggressive budget cutting by European governments, an economic slowdown on the continent is confronting policymakers from Madrid to Frankfurt with an uncomfortable question: Have they been addressing the wrong problem?

The campaign to reduce government deficits has come in response to a European debt crisis that could endanger the global banking system. And the budget cutting has been coupled with a reluctance by the the European Central Bank to stimulate economic growth like the Federal Reserve has in the United States; the ECB has instead raised interest rates twice this year to contain inflation.

Those steps have sucked hundreds of billions of dollars out of a European economy that may be edging towards recession.
American politicians sneer at everything "European," yet they swoon for this current European affectation like tween-age girls swooning for Justin Bieber.