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Logical Monopolies and Corporate Pillaging

How Local Utilities Gamed the Natural-Gas Market

Solution: a regulated monopoly (or public ownership). This line we keep hearing about how the free market does everything better is proving to be wrong again and again. Free markets work great for dominant players and scammers. Regulated free markets can sometimes achieve the optimal blend of free enterprise and consumer protection. Some things are natural monopolies (most utilities) and “free competition” is actually hugely wasteful (imagine ten sets of telephone poles in a town, instead of one). And some areas of human interaction are just not meant for competition, like health and education. But we keep hearing that there is only one solution to every problem – privatize it and unleash the greed. There are certainly a few contexts where this may be the right choice. But in most cases the result is only that the public gets to be a victim of private greed. Sorry, but I’ll take a little government inefficiency over corporate pillaging any day. At least with the government I theoretically have some input through voting. When the private sector controls your life you get just about no say at all.

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