The NZ power network is a natural monopoly. The NZ state planned the development and effectivelysubsidised capitalist farming & industry by providing access to use of cheap electricity. No individual capitalistin NZ’s history could have built this. NZ’s electricity system was built by the working class – an internationalworking class at that, with migrant labour a central part of the construction workforce. Power utilities werepaid for by the taxes of the working class - as well as producing the bosses’ profits (including their taxes) -from our labour. The working class built these utilities and financed the Research & Development of two areaswhere NZ has special expertise, Geothermal and Hydro-Electrical power. There is massive social capitalexpropriated from the working class invested in infrastructure and intellectual property in the power SOEs.This is the stake that NZ workers have in state assets. We are against these assets being privatised and themonopoly profits going to NZ or foreign capitalist owners. That’s why we say “socialise our assets!”
Capitalist asset grab
Global capitalism rules NZ and the NACT government(National, Act, Maori Party and Peter Dunne) represents theinterests of the capitalist class unashamedly. Already theyhave part-privatised by increasing the debt levels of thepower companies and solid energy (35% of their value is owedfinance capitalism), and taken that bank debt as agovernment dividend (profit). The further transfer ofownership from the capitalist state to the capitalist class (theclass of owners) takes placewith these sales. This is thetheft from the poor of thepretence of ownership (heldby the state). This will bethe continued exploitationof the working andunemployed poor, andpower prices that extractprofit margins well aboveand beyond the costs ofpower production.Geoff Bertram hasresearchedthe price gaugingof the SOE's who have actedas a cartel and put up theprice of power at least 50%above real cost. That ismonopoly rent whichcurrently goes to the stateas dividends. Monopoly rentequals super profits fromnatural resources, so itamounts to a transfer of profits from other capitalists tomonopoly capitalists. The other capitalists have tried tooffload this loss of profits demanding lower power prices andpassing on higher prices to private consumers.
This is justscrewing workers at both ends.
Why is the capitalist class stealing the powercompanies from the NZ state? When power services are soldthe capitalist class will be able to take profits from their“investment” (that investment money is coming from theprofits of the production of the working class in the firstplace). The capitalist system is so weak that capitalism is insearch of “good investments” because their profit margins arefalling. An electricity supplier is a guaranteed monopolyprofit, because everyone uses electricity – so the capitalist iskeen to get private ownership of the profits, a loss for all ofus since it is a move away from the state dividends that canbe reinvested in other infrastructure such as schools hospitalsetc.
Their crisis not ours!
The global financial crisis was just the latestsymptom of the failure of capitalism. Profits were low inproductive sector and “financial” capitalism was promisingbigger profits – however finance capital was unable to deliveron these as the many financial company failures proved.Capitalism is facing a crisis of falling profits and is desperateto screw a ‘reliable’ profit from super-exploiting the workingclass. The sale of state power assets will drive up prices andincrease the super-profit going into the pockets of thecapitalist class.The capitalist crisis means that the bosses want tomilk that monopoly rent directly rather than see it spent onschools, houses, welfare etc. It is total cynical bullshit to saythat the proceeds of the sale of 49% will be spent on socialamenities. 49% will gostraight into the hands ofshareholders, while thestates shares of rent will goto subsidising big capital andfarmers as the plans forroads, irrigation and “PublicPrivate Partnerships” (PPPs)that guarantee privateprofit.NZ workers have anhistoric stake in theseassets. They are essentialservices to meet our needfor cheap, reliable electricpower to maintain ourhouseholds. Take backcontrol of power servicesand put them under thecontrol of the working classand the power serviceworkers.
Reclaim our power!
The language of the “asset sale” hides the fact thatthese are power services which provide an essential service tothe whole NZ population. It serves the working class byproviding what has become a basic necessity for our living;keeping our food, water, clothing & ourselves clean andhealthy, and communicating with each other. Electricity is abasic need. As a commodity we can only use it if we can payfor it. Reclaim electricity as a need and a service!The ‘market’ is by definition not designed to meetneeds: it is all about profits. The description of powerproviders as “assets” hides the fact that they were built toprovide an electricity supply throughout the whole country,including delivering electricity to the milking sheds, anintegral part of NZs efficient milking production. Electricityservices are best planned to meet the needs of the populationand of industry (an argument for socialist planning) and theNZ state has done that planning and development. Thecreation of an electricity market has only led to priceincreases and profit taking by the state – a burden on theworking class through household electricity prices. The
(TPP) and other tools of imperialism will