Cal Thomas | Syndicated columnist | Tuesday, March 27, 2001
Rolling blackouts. The threat of electricity shortages this summer in Los Angeles and New York City. What's going on? Is this America, or a Third World nation?
In California, the legislature in 1996 adopted a plan that capped what consumers could be charged for buying electricity. But there was no cap on what electricity providers would have to pay to acquire the electricity they would sell to consumers. What genius thought that government could repeal the law of supply and demand?
Richard Nixon failed to whip inflation when he instituted wage and price controls nearly 30 years ago. Government attempts to manipulate the market almost always fail. But politicians want to be seen as caring and doing something, so they meddle in the free market. Trouble is, they usually make things worse, as they are with electricity. Then you bring in the environmental quacks who oppose nuclear power and the building of conventional power plants and you have an energy crisis. It didn't have to happen, but we should be aware of where the blame belongs and the way out of the mess.