Are you sick of paying too much for your food? And petrol for that matter… I know my wallet has just about worn itself out trying to keep up with the weekly rises in my grocerial outgoings.
Recently in New Zealand, former state owned telecommunications monopoly Telecom New Zealand was forced, through government re-regulation, to split into three separate companies. This followed years of anti-competitive behaviour on the part of Telecom who, rather than attempting to use their power as the largest company to become an innovative market leader, chose instead to attempt to crush all competition. It adopted a ‘there is no way you can play with my toys in our sandpit’ policy. This has led to New Zealand having one of the shittest internet services in the OECD. Just one third of New Zealand households had broadband access in 2006 – countries like Iceland blow us out of the water with 74% of households with similar access. Obviously these figures are a couple of years old, but at least they’re not as old as Telecom’s antiquated copper-based network. Where the HELL are our fibre optics, or satellites??? Bunch of lazy feckers.
Anyway, my point is that monopolies are bad, m’kay. If you run a monopoly, there is no competitor there to keep you honest. People are trapped into using your services or goods because they have no choice. If your service is shite, people have nowhere else to go. So for years, Telecom has abused it’s position, and now it has to break itself into three. The sad thing about this was the fact it took so long. What stopped the politicians moving against Telecom? I’m just guessing here, but it could be something to do with either, a) Telecom donating thousands of New Zealand dollars to any political party that would take it, or b) The chance for a retired politician to serve on the board of Telecom, or any other company for that matter, is greatly reduced if they vote to split up a company. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, New Zealand was losing out to the likes of Korea in the broadband race.
*Insert link between Telecom and the dairy industry here*
If you live in the western world – which quite a few of my friends and family do – you will be noticing the high cost of living. To buy a trolley of food from a supermarket these days you have to mortgage your car. Prices for bread, milk, butter, cheese, flour, eggs, and many other of our staple dietary thingies have risen from anywhere between 20 and 50% (perhaps even more) in the past year or year and a half. So much for cooking up a batch of cheese scones without shredding your bank balance. There are two sets of people I blame – farmers and market speculators. Let me explain…
New Zealand dairy farmers (who produce the raw materials for our cheese, yoghurt, butter, ice cream and so on) are a monopoly. They have gathered together in a huge milky cartel called Fonterra. This “company” is responsible for selling NZ dairy products on the international market. As such, local New Zealanders have to pay as much for their butter as someone in the United Kingdom or Europe. How can the government let farmers gather themselves together into a massive calcium-based conglomerate when it has forced Telecom to split itself into little bits and pieces (there is that link I was talking about two paragraphs ago…)?
The farmers and Fonterra are blaming the Chinese and Indians for the increased demands in dairy products. Funny isn’t it – as soon as something goes wrong, blame the ethnic minority. In this case, however, the minority is about half the world’s population.
Farmers and Fonterra are also highlighting the ridiculous price of petrolium products at the present moment. I suppose this is another way to push blame away from themselves onto something that they obviously can’t control. You might think that the high petrol price has something to do with Bush and his need to follow in his similarly named father by unsuccessfully trying to win a Gulf War. Good luck there Dubya. I can still remember the day, a mere 6 weeks after the US invaded Iraq and Saddam went to live in a hole in the ground, there was Dubya on an aircraft carrier declaring victory. Nearly 4000 Americans and a trillion Iraqi civilians have died since peace broke out.
Despite Dubya trying his best, oil prices are not currently at record highs (and predicted to crack $US200 by none other than OPEC) because of his military fingering of the Middle Eastern netherparts. The people that buy and sell oil are the ones to blame. They are the ones who are freaking out about what might happen in the future to oil supplies. The speculators are buying up oil faster than it can be produced. The speculators don’t even know what is going to happen, unless they can read the future, or have traveled to the future and are bringing back information in order to profit from it – like Biff did in Back to the Future 2.
Maybe the speculators do know what’s going to happen… There is the argument that we have, or are just about to hit the peak of our possible oil production and that from now on it is downhill. Demand for our fossil friend will outstrip supply and the petrol to power your trip down the the supermarket will cost more than the car you are travelling in. I could be making this up, but I’m not.
There is probably the chance for someone to blame India and China for guzzling all the oil. That’s not fair. If the Western Hemisphere hadn’t set the formula for capitalism to be: Oil + Consumption = $$$$$, then China and India would be powering their current rampant growth with water powered cars. Or horses and carts or bicycles, like they did in the old days.
I thought about this the other day – I would have to go to Scotland to visit my in-laws in a sailing boat. Sweet. No more airplanes waking me up in the middle of the night. No more boy-racers peeling up and down the road. No more smoky imports driving around clogging my lungs with their outpourings. Then we could get on with the process of growing our own food in our backyards and living off the land. The return of the hunter-gatherer.
I’m not sure if the above rant makes any sense, or flows in any way, so let me sum up.
- Oil will run out.
- Monopolies are bad.
- NZ dairy industry is monopoly.
- Dubya is stupid.
- Capitalism is greed.
- China and India make nice food.
- Bogans suck.
- Masons run the Police and the bacon industry.
Any questions can be posted as comments to this page, and answers will be given in due course.