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“Even if it is a $60 billion cost to them,” says Dudley, “if everyone has to do it, they can pass it on to consumers.”
In other words, normally companies compete to do things more efficiently than rivals, in order to charge lower prices and get the lion’s share of customers. But there’s no need to worry about jacking up your prices when your rivals must do so, too. Regulation makes companies lazier, not more efficient.
Republicans at least talk about deregulation. But the “regulation-killing Republican” is another myth. Despite being labeled a deregulator, George W. Bush hired 90,000 new regulators. Dudley, who was their overseer, now says, “The pressure to regulate is intense.”
Almost no one seems to speak up for a true free market in energy, with competition, innovation and unfettered consumer choice. People say regulation is needed to counter industry “greed.”
But if anyone’s greedy here, it’s government -- and unlike oil companies, government doesn’t have to work hard and compete to give you good service at the lowest possible price. Government just sits there, telling companies to charge less, telling car companies to make smaller and more dangerous cars, mandating and subsidizing alternative fuels like ethanol -- and then telling us that we benefit from the politicians’ efforts.
The truth: We rarely benefit.