Is electricity a "human right"?

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Is electricity a human right?

Poll ended at February 9th, 2011, 9:56 am

Yes
18
38%
No
28
58%
Don't Know
2
4%
 
Total votes: 48

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Re: Is electricity a "human right"?

Post by doofus-01 »

Sapient wrote: I think they need to be renamed.
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Re: Is electricity a "human right"?

Post by Eleazar »

It's not a "right" as i would define "rights". It would be nice if everyone had electricity, but it would also be nice if everyone had a sports car, and a swimming pool and high speed internet access, and as much free time as they wanted for their favorite hobby.

In contrast to more traditionally recognized "rights" like life, which you are born in possession of, (i.e. my life in mine, i didn't take it away from anybody else) these "nice to have" things are in limited supply, and can only come into existence by the labor of other people. So the flip side of saying that people have the right to electricity, is that someone must give electricity away for free. You cannot have both the right to free electricity and the right to property. It is too easy to loose sight of the fact that if you declare someone has a right to a certain possession, then someone looses their right to keep it.

Power companies are not the most sympathetic groups. But if everyone has the right to electricity, why are so many people paying their bills? Stupid people giving money for something that is already by right theirs. This is probably not the situation that Obama intends. It's probably more like: we should tax everybody to provide a minimum amount of electricity for those who are not able to pay. That's much more conditional and fungible than IMHO a "right" should be.


It's a generally bad thing that the concept of "rights" has been diluted over time. Rights like in the Bill of Rights, were much more definite and absolute, and IMHO important. These are getting set aside and replaced by hazy, vaguely defined "rights to electricity".
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Re: Is electricity a "human right"?

Post by artisticdude »

Eleazar wrote:t's not a "right" as i would define "rights". It would be nice if everyone had electricity, but it would also be nice if everyone had a car, and a swimming pool and high speed internet access.
QFT.

...

Then again, if high speed internet were an unalienable right, I could sue my ISP...! :twisted:
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Re: Is electricity a "human right"?

Post by wayfarer »

Well lets ask the other way around why not?
Elecricity gets produced no matter what, just because you are allowed to work and can pay for it why should others who can't work and there for can't pay for it don't get it? I mean do you present your kids a bill everytime they get something to eat?


Just because a good is unfair distributed and is needed for a living and you are working your ass of for it doesn't mean no one else should get it. It is actual the other way around you shouldn't work your ass of just for your living. :annoyed:
Anything else is called Sozial Dawinism and I don't like the idea.

And if anyone wants to prove me that you don't need electricity your welcome.

On the topic of electricty do you actual know how it works? Their is always a certain amount of voltage in the net. No matter how much is used. So even if everyone stops their devices the generating plants won't stop working indeed they must run or else you won't get them running before 3 days or even longer.
Indeed you are wasting energy en masse. Energy that will never be used just because some [censored] decides we would have to pay for it.
It is like throwing food into the sea, just because no one can pay it.


Elaborating it a bit. Such stuff is actual a human right
"The dignity of man is inviolable. To respect and protect it shall be the duty of all public authority."
Not freezing helps my dignity a lot.
Elaborating even further a Basic Income would garanty this stuff and actual your dignity
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Re: Is electricity a "human right"?

Post by doofus-01 »

Further elaborations are not really clearing this up for me. If the list of what are "rights" extends past the "right not to have a bullet between the eyes", I don't see how electricity is not a part of it. Electricity is part of the modern world, and it is necessary to function. Even if you don't personally use it, you are either benefiting from your neighbours (or getting screwed/killed by your neighbours) who do use it.

Talk of sports cars, apes, and personal armies makes me think not all of us are talking about the same thing.

- If you think it is a "right" that can be demanded of responsible governments for the people not to be left insecure, vulnerable and hopeless, electricity is a right.

- If you are trying to come up with a list of things that governments need to deliver to each person individually, no matter how passive that person is, because that person has a soul and there is some natural law that gives them rights? That is something for philosophers and religious scholars to continue to argue over. Electricity probably doesn't belong on that list, but I'm not sure anything does. What would be a right? There is plenty of hunger in the USA, so the USA is therefore a human rights violator?

EDIT:I'm spending too much time in this thread, I'll stop. But I'll just say that even though "human rights" is still a fuzzy term to me, I've become more convinced that electricity is as much a part of it as anything else is. The Bill of Rights is a part of the time in which it was written, the fact that right to electricity isn't explicitly mentioned in there does not mean much.

wayfarer: that is a very interesting take on how the electrical grid works. Electricity that could have been given away may sometimes be wasted in the very short term, but there are very real limits. Think of power, not just voltage.
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Re: Is electricity a "human right"?

Post by Pentarctagon »

imo it's not really a right in the sense of 'Life Liberty and Happiness', its just something that our society totally depends upon to the point that if we ever lost electricity most people would probably be unable to function.
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Re: Is electricity a "human right"?

Post by Eleazar »

wayfarer wrote:Well lets ask the other way around why not?
Elecricity gets produced no matter what, just because you are allowed to work and can pay for it why should others who can't work and there for can't pay for it don't get it? I mean do you present your kids a bill everytime they get something to eat?


Just because a good is unfair distributed and is needed for a living and you are working your ass of for it doesn't mean no one else should get it. It is actual the other way around you shouldn't work your ass of just for your living. :annoyed:
Anything else is called Sozial Dawinism and I don't like the idea.

And if anyone wants to prove me that you don't need electricity your welcome.
There are two different questions here than need to be distinguished:

1) Is it a problem that people who can't pay their electric bill will freeze to death? You can replace this with whatever form of human suffering.
I (and most people) agree with you, this is not good. There are lots of people with messed up lives who need help. So then the next question is:

2) What should be done about it?
You assume there is only 1 possible solution: Government must mandate that people can get electricity as a "right". But there are other arguably better solutions. Almost every form of charity entered western civilization, not from the government, but via private and religious organizations. And still today a large part of the work to relieve human suffering is performed by non-governmental groups.
But when a nation assigns a certain branch of charity to the government, there are a number of frequent bad side effects.
1) Any large bureaucracy tend to be inefficient, and grow increasingly inefficient over time.
2) Being given something by the government simply for being alive tends to create a sense of entitlement. It's comfortable to keep receiving. Being given something by private individuals/organization is more likely to create a sense of gratitude, and motivate the receiver to improve their situation.
3) Once a nation declares to many "rights", and enough of their citizens get used to depending on government rather than themselves you don't have enough productive people to pay for the everyone else's free ride. Then the whole system collapses, and you get riots, looting, starvation, and maybe war. This is the situation most of the Western world is heading for especially since population growth is low or even negative.


wayfarer wrote:On the topic of electricty do you actual know how it works? Their is always a certain amount of voltage in the net. No matter how much is used. So even if everyone stops their devices the generating plants won't stop working indeed they must run or else you won't get them running before 3 days or even longer.
Indeed you are wasting energy en masse. Energy that will never be used just because some [censored] decides we would have to pay for it.
It is like throwing food into the sea, just because no one can pay it.
Sounds like you don't really. Granted it takes time to warm up generators. For the most efficient operation, power companies do their best to predict the amount that will be required, and run the right number and type of generators required, while avoiding stopping and starting as much as possible. Generally, yes, they produce a little more than they think they need to be on the safe side, but it is not magically unlimited. Brown outs and black outs are the result of people trying to use more than is available.

wayfarer wrote:Elaborating it a bit. Such stuff is actual a human right
"The dignity of man is inviolable. To respect and protect it shall be the duty of all public authority."
Not freezing helps my dignity a lot.
Elaborating even further a Basic Income would garanty this stuff and actual your dignity
I find "dignity" a very vague and unhelpful way to define what is a right. Someone could get on this forum and insult you thoroughly. Is it the duty of public authority to protect you from trolls? What many people do for fun or profit would insult the dignity of many others.
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Re: Is electricity a "human right"?

Post by pauxlo »

wayfarer wrote:On the topic of electricty do you actual know how it works? Their is always a certain amount of voltage in the net. No matter how much is used.
"Voltage" is not the same as "energy", though.
(Electrical energy is measured by current * voltage, integrated over time.)

So, to hold a the voltage in the network on 220 V without any users, the electric energy needed is about zero (a bit more because of loss in transmission).
wayfarer wrote: So even if everyone stops their devices the generating plants won't stop working indeed they must run or else you won't get them running before 3 days or even longer.
This differs quite a bit, depending on the type of generating plant. But I think "3 days to start" is a bit extreme for most generators. I think most will have a startup-time of only some hours (when they are "ready" - of course not when you first have to start transporting the coal to the plant), and there are some who can react in some minutes. I think adapting the energy output of an already running plant is even quicker.

Of course, some types of generators are not adaptable at all, and only work depending on external factors, like wind turbines and solar panels.

Actually the amount of (electrical) energy production (network input) is adapted quite exactly to the energy consummation (network output), by means of quickly start-able power plants and even storage devices. (We'll need more of those in the future.)

Small (short-term) variances in power consummation result in similarly small changes in voltage, until they manage to increase/decrease the network power input.
wayfarer wrote:Elaborating it a bit. Such stuff is actual a human right
"The dignity of man is inviolable. To respect and protect it shall be the duty of all public authority."
(From the first article of Germany's constitution - all other human (or civilian) rights in the next some articles are only special cases of this. And the "man" here is actually "Mensch", human.)
wayfarer wrote: Not freezing helps my dignity a lot.
Elaborating even further a Basic Income would garanty this stuff and actual your dignity.
Yeah, such a "basic income" in money form would be a better way doing this than saying "you can get electric energy for free" (but still have to pay for food, lodging, Internet, etc.)

By the way, electric heating is usually not the most efficient way (since you have only about 30-40% of the used primary energy still in electric form).
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Re: Is electricity a "human right"?

Post by wayfarer »

Eleazar wrote:
...

2) What should be done about it?
You assume there is only 1 possible solution: Government must mandate that people can get electricity as a "right". But there are other arguably better solutions. Almost every form of charity entered western civilization, not from the government, but via private and religious organizations. And still today a large part of the work to relieve human suffering is performed by non-governmental groups.
But when a nation assigns a certain branch of charity to the government, there are a number of frequent bad side effects.
1) Any large bureaucracy tend to be inefficient, and grow increasingly inefficient over time.
2) Being given something by the government simply for being alive tends to create a sense of entitlement. It's comfortable to keep receiving. Being given something by private individuals/organization is more likely to create a sense of gratitude, and motivate the receiver to improve their situation.
3) Once a nation declares to many "rights", and enough of their citizens get used to depending on government rather than themselves you don't have enough productive people to pay for the everyone else's free ride. Then the whole system collapses, and you get riots, looting, starvation, and maybe war. This is the situation most of the Western world is heading for especially since population growth is low or even negative.

...
1.
I live in Germany and we have a social system some are working. Quite a lot actual. :hmm:
Some don't get a jop perhaps not all want to but anyways all of them get money from the state and we still haven't collapsed.
I don't get these fear about the "evil" goverment.
And ask yourself would you stop working because you can be sure you'll not starve at the end of the month?
I mean you work on an Open Source Project. Are you that different from all the other people around you? Food for thought no?

2.
Granted it is a bureaucracy monster and it is actual unfair that those who don't work get money, so why don't we give the money equal to all? No bureaucracy and a gift for all. You could even save some money.
At the moment for example we have a lack of children because having children means a great loose of income it is a downward spiral from here. Less children less tax payers etc...

And private organisations? I tell you something we pay church taxes around here, The church organizes so called welfare organisations and gets further aid from the goverment plus our taxes you should be more afraid about those private organisations than about the goverment.
(Not to mention that the catholic church is one of the biggest land owner in the world, well one way to pervert a good idea. :annoyed: )

3.
The goverment exists for the people not the other way around. Or do you believe that there is something less productive than a politican? Or something less productive than old people, children etc, after all we are a large community we live together we are depending on each other. Not the other way around. Or can you live from your work? Can you eat what you are making? I quess not you depend on the work of others aswell.
It is all about trust and you are actual trusting more than you actual admit.

On the Topic of power plants. My technical english lacks a bit, so bear with me. Around here in Europe it is typical that all power plants and nets are constructed for constant load variability is not planned. The power plants don't really respond to the demand or the input they might get (for example wind turbine or solar cells). They are always working on the same power lvl.
That's one of the reason that alternative energy isn't really welcomed by the affiliated groups the net just doesn't support the variabilities yet. (Yeah there are some storages but not nearly enough)
Yeah all a bit vague but I have read German articles about it. Well that doesn't help a lot round here.
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Re: Is electricity a "human right"?

Post by Kanapka »

Energy that will never be used just because some [censored] decides we would have to pay for it.
You actually have the right to food already, and yet some [censored] farmer decides that you need to pay for bread. And I guess food is more important that electricity.

Let's assume that power plants can produce power without limit. We know that power plant owners need to pay people who work for them to keep the plant running. They get the money to do so by selling electricity, and this model works now - you can get power if you can pay.
So let's apply rule of 'if you don't want to pay you don't have to' (1): no one pays for electricity, because 'the station runs anyway', then the owner runs out of money and the workers quit - power gets no longer produced.
But hey, there is a limit to producing power (or maybe to the power that can be drained from one plant) - if there wasn't, one power plant would be enought for the whole world. So if everyone tries to use electricity, no one will get enough (the same effect as when you connect one bulb or diode to an AA battery, it'll shine, but if you connect 10k, they won't). You need to divide the available power for everyone who wants it. You can do it on a fair share - everyone will get the same amount. Then if I'd like to have more (because I have a hobby that needs a lot of power), I can't, and if I have no use for all the power that I have a right to, it gets wasted. I think that most people will want more than they get, though, and they'd give up something else to get more power. This allows to distribute power 'as needed' - if you need power so badly that you give something (money) for it, you can have some power, and if you believe that you can live with less electricity that someone else, you can spend your resources (time/money) on something else.

Elaborating even further a Basic Income would garanty this stuff and actual your dignity.
In 2009 when Deutshe Bank was to be given money from the government Joseph Ackermann said that he'd be ashamed to use it (link).

(1): I'm sure there's very few people who have too little money to pay for electricity - they may want to spend the money they'd spend on power on something that's more important to them, though.

Edit:
Once a nation declares to many "rights", and enough of their citizens get used to depending on government rather than themselves you don't have enough productive people to pay for the everyone else's free ride. Then the whole system collapses, and you get riots, looting, starvation, and maybe war. This is the situation most of the Western world is heading for especially since population growth is low or even negative.
I remeber a country where the government was to take care of everything for the citizens - you would work and then they'd distribute effects of your work to everyone. It took eighty years to bring them down.
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Re: Is electricity a "human right"?

Post by pauxlo »

wayfarer wrote: On the Topic of power plants. My technical english lacks a bit, so bear with me. Around here in Europe it is typical that all power plants and nets are constructed for constant load variability is not planned. The power plants don't really respond to the demand or the input they might get (for example wind turbine or solar cells). They are always working on the same power lvl.
That's one of the reason that alternative energy isn't really welcomed by the affiliated groups the net just doesn't support the variabilities yet. (Yeah there are some storages but not nearly enough)
Yeah all a bit vague but I have read German articles about it. Well that doesn't help a lot round here.
Please take a look at these Wikipedia articles (in German, but they each have a link to a similar English article for our non-German friends):
Kraftwerksmanagement
Grundlast
Mittellast
Spitzenlast

In summary:
You simply can't put more or less energy in the network than is taken out (minus transport losses). (If you do, in short term, you get frequency changes (since the missing/superfluous energy is taken from/by the rotating wheels in the generators, which thus slow down/speed up), in longer term you get blackouts.)

So, there are four types of power plant:
  • The ones with external dependencies (like solar panels, wind turbines), which simply produce as much as they can. (If you're lucky, you can prognose how much input you'll get.)
  • The ones which are not easily (or economically) regulate-able (word?), are used for the base load - they should usually operate always at their maximum load. (Nuclear power plants are usually in this category, since most of their cost are in construction and not the fuel input, as well as some water powered (which have to use a constant amount of water).
  • Other ones are regulate-able in some hours to some minutes interval, for the "medium load" like daily changes between night and morning/afternoon, as well as prognosed changed in the output of external power sources. Examples are coal burning ones (but in principle also nuclear power plants can produce less output if needed - it is just not as economic).
  • For additional peak changes, there are "peak load" power plants, which can react in minutes to seconds. Examples are storage plants (mostly pumped water, now) and gas turbines. (The storage plants are taking electric energy from the network on times when it is cheap, as the load is less than the base +external production.)
Of course, energy network operators would like it if the load is the same over the whole day, since the base load plants are the cheapest ones.

But it is not this way, and such the energy costs vary quite a bit around the day. Maybe this varying cost should be also billed to the end users, so I would pay less for my computer in the night :-)
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Re: Is electricity a "human right"?

Post by Eleazar »

Briefly:
wayfarer wrote:
Eleazar wrote:2) What should be done about it?
You assume there is only 1 possible solution: Government must mandate that people can get electricity as a "right". But there are other arguably better solutions. Almost every form of charity entered western civilization, not from the government, but via private and religious organizations. And still today a large part of the work to relieve human suffering is performed by non-governmental groups.
But when a nation assigns a certain branch of charity to the government, there are a number of frequent bad side effects.
1) Any large bureaucracy tend to be inefficient, and grow increasingly inefficient over time.
2) Being given something by the government simply for being alive tends to create a sense of entitlement. It's comfortable to keep receiving. Being given something by private individuals/organization is more likely to create a sense of gratitude, and motivate the receiver to improve their situation.
3) Once a nation declares to many "rights", and enough of their citizens get used to depending on government rather than themselves you don't have enough productive people to pay for the everyone else's free ride. Then the whole system collapses, and you get riots, looting, starvation, and maybe war. This is the situation most of the Western world is heading for especially since population growth is low or even negative.

...
1.
I live in Germany and we have a social system some are working. Quite a lot actual. :hmm:
Some don't get a jop perhaps not all want to but anyways all of them get money from the state and we still haven't collapsed.
I made no claims that socialism kills an economy overnight. It lasted ~70 years in Eastern Europe in a purer form (as Kanapka pointed out), in part due to aid from the west, and intermittent dabbling in capitalism. A healthy economy like Germany can bear more self-destructive economic polities (i.e. partial socialism) for longer than a weaker economy, like Greece. Also it takes time for societies attitudes to change.
wayfarer wrote:I don't get these fear about the "evil" government.
Ever read any history? Governments have a profound potential to harm their citizens, even those with the best intentions. I don't think governments are more evil than anybody else, but they have less incentive for good behavior, and more potential for harm, so more government is not always the best answer to every problem.
wayfarer wrote:And ask yourself would you stop working because you can be sure you'll not starve at the end of the month?
I mean you work on an Open Source Project. Are you that different from all the other people around you? Food for thought no?
Yeah, lets consider that. Making games is something a lot of people consider fun. Out of the hundreds of thousands that play Wesnoth, i'm one of the 1% (or less) that actually tries to contribute, and i'm one of the minority of that percent with the skills to contribute significantly. I contribute when i feel like it, and have been essentially absent for as long as a year. Sure it's great that i do this for free, and altruism is IMHO at least part of my motivation. But don't go drawing some crazy conclusion that free open source projects prove that humanity as a whole has enough altruism to make some idealistic "everything belongs to everybody" society work. After all there are a lot of things that need to be done that are a lot less fun that making games: for instance garbage collection, food preparation, whatever dirty, hard, stressful, uncreative work you could name. People take on unpleasant jobs because they get paid to, because they have no better choice. If we had the choice, we would all spend our lives on our art/music/tan/favorite hobby, or enough of us would that there would not be enough people left to make the civilization go.
wayfarer wrote:3.
The government exists for the people not the other way around.
A fine ideal, it is one i share. However, the reality always falls short. In cases like North Korea, or old Eastern Germany behind the wall, the reality is much more like: the people exist for the government to use however it likes.

Warm fuzzy platitudes won't keep a nation's economy from failing, if it promises more than it can deliver.
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Re: Is electricity a "human right"?

Post by Velensk »

Really minor irrelevant note, I've met an eastern german who claims that he didn't mind being one (and I see no reason for him to not be sincere).

I do not believe this particular example in any way disproves Elezars point though.
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Re: Is electricity a "human right"?

Post by wayfarer »

Well funny Kanapka that you mention it? Your last post what is actual your point? I don't see any similarities neither your point.
You can ask everyone socialism is not a dictatorship. :annoyed:
Yes there was a dictatorship but you can have a capitalism dictatorship aswell as a capitalism one. Does it make it any better?

And quoting Ackermann? Pardon me but this [censored]?
He has defraudated taxes. His bank took the money later and not the smallest part despite his very brave and actual untrue words.

@pauxlo thanks.

@Eleazar
1.
Funny that you mention it though our (you will really laugh now) low wages we compete with whole europe. We export our goods all over Europe most other countries can't compete with us and we go in a downward spiral from here. If Greece and all the other bail out we loose deepts and a market for our goods and it is not just Greece Italian, Spain and many others don't look so good aswell, even England has economical difficulties and do you want to call them weak?
Well after all not the point and neither in our discussion.

On the other side there were 2 parts of Germany one was a democracy with a social system and a dictatorship with a social system one survived quess which one?
So social Systems are not killing a country. The people said no step further. We are the folk.
Can we now agree on that?

2.
I agree on that that's why a goverment should be controlled a democrazy is one way to do it. But saying private Initiatives are any better? You say "I don't think governments are more evil than anybody else" don't you see the contratiction. Why should other ways be any better?

You say it is fun. Imagine you could just do what you like? You can live with some basic money not good perhaps but you won't starve and imagine you could work in those branches you really enjoy. Not because you must.
Some jobs are just dirty and bad paid. For example waste disposal not the nicest thing to work in. You now would have to pay good enough for it before someone will do this job, of course it is not the nicest jop but finally it would be paid adequate.
(Well you could say now no one would do this jop, funny thing is, the same was said about slavery without slaves no one would work on the cotton fields)
Carer for the elderly or kindergarten worker are paid like [censored] in Germany but actual they are really needed. Jobs which are important don't get paid well enough. (But there is still a huge demand for the jobs yet still some do this jobs out of compassion, I wouldn't but thats just me) Now this jobs could finally get the payment they would deserve.
If you want more or if you want to develope yourself you would still have to work but without the fear of starving.
And yes it works, the liks I have postet contained examples where it was successful testet.

And again I don't doubt you I doubt your judgement in other people what makes you believe that you are so different from other people.
Well yes 1000 people might play Wesnoth 10 contribute to it. But it might look different. The other 990 might working in honorary post, organize a club, join a party, donate blood, or whatever. You'll never know the whole story.


3.
Who said we failed? East Germans workers worked as much as West Germans. That is a fact. And again both had a social system.
East German never had controll over their goverment and neither about the ways how their work was used.

And for the last time why does everyone equals a social systems and socialism with a dictatorship. You can read it in every serious book that this is not the case.
Best example is China it is a so called "Socialism" Country. The economy is capitalism the goverment a dictatorship and the biggest debtholder of the USA. :hmm:
This girl, this boy, They were part of the land. What happens to the places we used to tend?
She's a hard one to trust, And he's a roving ghost. Will you come back, will you come back, Or leave me alone?

-Ghost Fields
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Gambit
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Re: Is electricity a "human right"?

Post by Gambit »

I think that I might be late on this one (since we're apparently now on socialism), but this topic came up in an IRC debate last night, and I decided to post my opinion.

I don't think it's a basic human right. That's silly. Electricity is entirely a technological creation. However I do believe that countries (even those with market economies) should strive to make electricity a public good. The private sector has done a very poor job of things.

Little to no innovation, jaw-droppingly high prices (almost all of it is profit), frequent and catastrophic breakdowns (mostly due to the lack of innovation), and many consumers still without it because it just isn't profitable to provide it to them. It also has all the attributes of a public good. It's non-exclusionary, consumption is shared, and if it weren't for the government allowing power companies to be local monopolies I don't think many of them would have produced it at all in the beginning.
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