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Thousands of Gas Leaks Discovered Under Streets of Washington DC

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  • by captbob2002 (411323) on Friday January 17, 2014 @09:17AM (#45984847)

    Good to know that private enterprise is taking such good care of their infrastructure - so much better than anything the government might operate *snort*.

    I am sure they will ask for a rate increase to perform the maintenance that they should have been doing all along - can't take that kind of money from the shareholders (owners.)

    Keep the profits private and the losses public - that's the ticket.

  • In other news ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 17, 2014 @09:23AM (#45984895)

    "The latest teenage prank is to throw lighted matches and cigarettes down manholes in Washington, DC."

    "Gas company announces it needs to raise rates to fix leaks."

    ...A few months go by of more efficient gas lines - meaning less wasted into the atmosphere.

    "Gas company CEO gets bonus for increased profits. Writes book on how to be a great CEO."

    He then appears on CNBC and is introduced as Blow Hard Jack and pontificates on how a business should be run. CNBC talking heads fawn all over him and blame Democrats for the poor business climate.

    DC residents stuck with higher rates while CEO and shareholders rake it in. But hey, they worked HARD for it - they had to READ a news headline in the paper about their operational stupidity. The thought of proactively looking for leaks never crossed their mind.

  • by blue trane (110704) on Friday January 17, 2014 @09:25AM (#45984909) Homepage Journal

    Utilities should be public, and not operated for profit. Since they're in the public good, money can be created (by the Fed, say, which then gives it to the government at no interest and keeps the loan rolling over forever, or forgives it) to make infrastructure safe. The free market has failed to provide secure infrastructure, because the free market does not care about the General Welfare; but the government is mandated to by the Constitution.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 17, 2014 @09:32AM (#45984961)

    Except that the government is, in many ways, controlled by corporations. And if the government really cared about the constitution, we wouldn't have the TSA, the NSA spying, stop-and-frisk, free speech zones, or suspicion-less border searches.

    Both the government and corporations are just trash.

  • Shhhh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LookIntoTheFuture (3480731) on Friday January 17, 2014 @09:40AM (#45985037)
    Do you hear that? That's the sound of the US crumbling under unregulated greed and power.
  • by dcw3 (649211) on Friday January 17, 2014 @09:43AM (#45985067) Journal

    This is not an example of free enterprise by any stretch of the imagination. Public utilities are tightly controlled, with virtually no competition.

    So, while we can debate the virtues, or lack thereof, of public vs. private efforts, utilities fall into the grey area in between.

  • by jbmartin6 (1232050) on Friday January 17, 2014 @09:44AM (#45985077)
    Monopolies are bad. Government makes a monopoly. Results are bad. Are you surprised? I am surprised at your apparent attitude, given the track record of government-managed systems. You think that would be better?
  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Friday January 17, 2014 @10:16AM (#45985401)

    Except that they aren't private, they're granted a monopoly and enjoy quasi-governmental rights. This is what happens when you have the worst of both worlds.

  • by amck (34780) on Friday January 17, 2014 @10:33AM (#45985603) Homepage

    Monopolies are bad. Government makes a monopoly. Results are bad. Are you surprised? I am surprised at your apparent attitude, given the track record of government-managed systems. You think that would be better?

    Not necessarily. For example the method used in Former Yugoslavia: the bread business was nationalised to ensure cheap bread for the populace. Two government bread companies were set up (IIRC). They were made to compete with each other, but with within strict rules, so that profit-taking for the benefit of staff salaries was out, but they could find efficiencies and compete. Also, it was legal for private companies to set up and sell other types of bread, but obviously couldn't control the market.

    Similarly, Ireland had a nationalized shipping company to ensure shipping happened in Ireland ; during WWII no-one else would ship to Ireland because of the danger, and after the war they needed stable prices. Other companies could compete, but this meant there was a ceiling on prices and there was always someone capable of shipping.

    Secondly having spent half my life in the public and half in the private sector, the private-sector is just as bad, it just doesn't have public investigations into waste.

  • by Petron (1771156) on Friday January 17, 2014 @10:39AM (#45985669)

    Like Chernobyl? Run by the government for the public good... then it exploded in 1986. Then it was brought back online and ran until the end 2000 because the public good needed cheap power.

    The problem is the lack of free markets. In most cities you don't have the option of 5 different gas companies. You get one. That is because the city leaders in their infinite wisdom on what is good for the people decided that ABC Company will handle all the hardware and maintenance.

    I worked at an ISP as a Tech support manager years back, and our DSL lines had to use the local TelCom's lines. We had to pay a rental fee for those lines (to pay for maintenance) and at the end of the day, we made very little on DSL. You see they had the government contract. All phone lines in the area were controlled by them. Any other TelCom had to use their lines (with the rental fee). They had a monopoly, where the competition had to buy from them. And the TelCom had crappy lines and had no interest in fixing them. One section of town was wired with 'Paper lines'... copper wire wrapped in wax paper. These lines were meant to be used as a temporary fix while real line can be ordered and laid... but they used it as normal line. When ever it rained we had calls in and you can year popping on the line. If you can hear noise... think on what the computer picks up. The only resort they had was call the TelCom to fix it... and a few days later, when things dried out... "Everything is fine'. We got sick of it and we started to put up wireless routers all over town. We offered wireless internet, and started to move all our DSL customers to wireless... only then did the TelCom started to replace those paper lines with real lines. Funny how competition forces improvements heh?

    With the utilities we don't have a free market. We have a strongly regulated, heavily controlled, government backed monopoly... and then we blame the free market when it becomes corrupt. I have one choice for a gas company. I have one choice for an electric company. I have one choice for a TelCom. That is not the Free Market.

  • by necro81 (917438) on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:23AM (#45986115) Journal

    Having a large accident would be a large liability for an energy company, and they would naturally take steps to avoid it

    If you had bothered to RTFA, you would have noted that dangerous leaks are usually addressed immediately; just as you say, it's a liability thing.

    But the thousands of smaller leaks (ones that don't affect buildings or subterranean infrastructure, for instance, just leaking gas into the ground), because they don't pose an immediate safety risk, are largely ignored and never fixed. From a climate change standpoint (hell, even from a horticultural standpoint - gas kills plants), these are costs that don't show up as liabilities to the company. In other words, another example of an externality that the magical hand of capitalism has failed to account for. If the gas company were charged a premium rate for lost gas (i.e., the difference between what they take delivery of and the sum of all they deliver to customers) to account for those methane emissions, or were charged $5,000 to replace a tree killed by a gas leak, then they might take it more seriously. So why don't we?

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:48PM (#45987477)
    I think you should have taken this argument further.

    The problem with utilities, public or (most) private, is that they're really NOT "free enterprise". They are either run by the government, or highly regulated by the government, often in a "crony capitalism" fashion... which is about as far from "free enterprise" as it gets.

    I think it's hilarious how Statists will see businesses regulated -- badly -- and then use that as an excuse for even more government intervention. "Look! It's not working! Let your benevolent government step in and fix it!"

    Yeah, right. When was the last time THAT worked?
  • Re:Hilarious (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ilsaloving (1534307) on Friday January 17, 2014 @03:54PM (#45990301)

    Riiiiiiight. And it has nothing at all to do with big businesses doing everything they can to hoard profits, and idiot apologists like you that think that there is nothing wrong with that fact.

    Electricity was deregulated in California. What happened? Prices shot up, service deteriorated. Do I need to mention Enron?

    How many times have you opened up the paper to see stories about companies laying off thousands of workers, not because the business is losing money, but because they arn't making *enough profit*. There is no such things as an honest public company as long as they are required by law to put their investors above all others. The sheer number of examples is virtually limitless.

    If Washington Gas (for example) was such a benevolent little angel, why did they have to be *ordered* by the commission to upgrade pipes? How many times has there been a massive ecological disaster because an oil company was too cheap to implement basic precautions?

    So spare me your bullshit. Libertarian is synonymous with "I've got mine, fuck you!", for good reason, whether you like it or not.

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