Tag Archive for ESB

Rabbitte not the brightest spark

Pat Rabbitte- soon to take over from Margaret Thatcher as Leo Varadkar's hero.

It was only a matter of time before this government let the privatisation genie out of the bottle.

Word from Kildare Street is that a “minority stake” in the ESB, a company “of strategic significance in the Irish economy ” is up for sale.

There’s a lot to suggest that this the thin end of the wedge.

For a start, it’s fitting that the announcement came did not from Leo Varadkar.

Instead, in a a prime example of the sorry state of socialism in Ireland, it was left to Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte to sell us out again.

The problem with the privatisation genie – like the property genie – is that once he’s let out of the bottle, he’s impossible to put back in.

Rather than sticking up for the working Joe, post-socialist man Pat will soon be espousing the virtues of private ownership and competition, and telling us how they will combine to drive prices down, without being able to cite a single example of where this has happened.

The reality is of course that the new owners will want a return on their investment and prices will rise even quicker than they are at the moment.

For those who doubt it, Sweden deregulated the electricity market a few years ago amidst a fanfare of promises of competition and lower prices.

Of course, the opposite was the case as speculation by energy traders forced prices up as they searched for profit.

Recently, the very newspapers that trumpeted this free market triumph expressed their outrage as helpless customers were ripped off at ever opportunity.

In the most extreme of cases (Russia), we witnessed how the selling-out of the nation’s energy infrastructure and resources created a whole new class of super-rich.

Along with it came corruption on a scale that even Michael Lowry might notice.

Pat and his supposed socialists in the Labour party are not content to facilitate the free market in taking all our money via the bailout; they won’t be happy until they’ve given away all our assets too.

For despite the supposedly unprecedented scale and scope of the credit crunch and subsequent debt crisis, there is nothing new here.

The IMF, like the free marketeers of Fine Gael and the Labour party, is still ideologically driven and utterly intent on selling out Ireland, and not necessairily to the highest bidder.

They do this despite ample evidence that such a sell-out causes more damage than good.

But of course by the time this becomes apparent, it will be too late. The genie won’t be going back into the bottle.

And in the end we’ll be left with Pat, our king of the socialist sell-out.

Don’t Say You Weren’t Warned

Politics is often nothing more than the art of being able to say “I told you so”, no matter what the outcome.

There was “Straight Talkin’” Pat Rabbitte on Vincent Browne this evening, giving it large about how we couldn’t possibly burn the bondholders, or anyone else who wasn’t working class, poor, young, old  or infirm.

Of course, just a few short weeks ago he and Eamon Gilmore were promising us “Labour’s way or Frankfurt’s way”. I think we all know how that turned out – at the first sign of a cabinet post Labour’s bluster was gone with the wind.

Fine Gael weren’t far behind them, and the Hide and Seek Champion of Mayo is dodging all talk of burden-sharing. You’d swear there was never a five-point plan at all.

Besides, it’s too late now. As pointed out before the election, a vote for FG or a vote for Labour was a tacit acceptance that the bank debt was ours to bear. No point whining about now, unless we’re seriously prepared to do something about it.

And then populist Pat, suffering under the barrage from Browne and Mary-Lou McDonald, turned his ire on the CEO of ESB, who apparently earns €750,000 a year.

Rabbitte, struggling to get some points on the board, honorably went ahead and attacked a man not there to defend himself.

He even went as far as to open public negotiations with his successor – whoever that may be – by saying that the new person in the position won’t get anywhere near that.

I don’t think you’re the best man to judge that Pat, just as you couldn’t be telling anyone at AIB what they can earn.

You’ll be forced to pay whatever the market demands for a competent person to run a national power company. And if you decide to pay peanuts, you’ll simply end up adding to the abundance of monkeys running – and ruining – Irish public life.

For this is what the free market does. Based on all available information it sets a price, and then it’s up to you to pay it – otherwise someone else will.

Which is exactly why the ESB shouldn’t be sold off just yet, if it is ever to be sold off at all.

The markets are well aware that we have no arse in our trousers and that we are in no position to negotiate; even if we were, we lack people capable of doing so. Thus, we would get nowhere near the real market value for the asset.

The second reason for not selling it off is competitiveness. The CEO of the newly-privatised Irish electricity company would set about justifying his massive new salary by generating massive profits for the new owners- at the expense of the households and small businesses, at a time when they can least afford it.

They have neither the mandate nor the interest in helping the country recover- they are simply interested in profit.

It’s the way the free market works Pat, and the longer you sit on the benches with Fine Gael, the more you’ll find out about it, and the more you’ll have to sit beside Vincent and defend actions that you would never in your wildest dreams have countenanced when you were on the opposition benches.