The concept of “price gouging” is usually stupid. Corporations do, and should, price their products and services so as to maximize profits. Prices are governed not by corporate fiat, but by supply and demand. That said, there are two situations where the concept of price gouging, while normally fictitious, can have reality. The first is price fixing, which has been illegal for more than a century, and the second is the world of government-regulated monopolies. There, price gouging actually can occur, with government sanction.
My colleague Isaac Orr uncovered a case of price gouging that involves collaboration between left-wing activists and liberal government: “Progressive attack group mysteriously drops Xcel Energy from anti-corporate price gouging campaign.”
Alliance for a Better Minnesota Action Fund (ABM) is a far-left Political Action Committee that spent $7.3 million promoting liberal politicians and attacking conservatives during the 2020 election cycle, according to Minnesota State Campaign Finance reports. In 2018, the total was $9.2 million.
Alliance for a Better Minnesota is funded largely by former Governor Mark Dayton’s ex-wife, Alida Rockefeller Messinger, an immensely wealthy leftist.
In response to voter concerns over rising inflation, the group’s educational arm launched a campaign at the website CorporateGreedInMN.com attacking the meat-packing company JBS, Amazon, and Xcel Energy for causing price increases due to corporate price gouging.
However, shortly after the campaign was launched, any mention of Xcel Energy was completely scrubbed from the progressive website.
The photo below shows the website on April 4, 2022, courtesy of the Wayback Machine.
The numbers in that graphic are correct. Nevertheless, this instance of “corporate greed” quickly went down the memory hole.
By April 12, any mention of Xcel Energy, the $1.6 billion in profits it made in 2021, and the fact that it is seeking to raise electricity rates by 21 percent over three years had vanished from the website, even though the company has reportedly not paid any federal income taxes in over 14 years.
American Experiment has been highly critical of Xcel Energy’s corporate profiteering on the backs of captive ratepayers and the massive sums of money they spend lobbying to increase these profits.
Lengthy quote documenting that fact is omitted.
Why would ABM withdraw the criticism that Xcel Energy so richly deserves? Because they are ideologically aligned. There is also a possible financial reason.
Xcel’s corporate profits are increasing precisely because they are spending billions building wind turbines, solar panels, transmission lines, natural gas plants, and prematurely retiring their coal plants, which is exactly what liberal politicians want them to do.
This is also why electricity prices in Xcel’s service territory are much higher than the costs paid by other Minnesota utilities and are set to increase by another 21 percent over the next three years.
The entire “green” movement is corrupt. Corporate financiers are reaping billions in profits by building unreliable and inefficient wind farms, solar installations, transmission lines and natural gas plants that operate the large majority of the time when wind and solar don’t show up for work. Powerful utilities like Xcel actually lobby to convince legislatures to impose mandates that require them to invest these billions and to charge ratepayers–all of us–the cost, plus a guaranteed profit. Sweet deal if you can get it, and the reason why the cost of electricity is now skyrocketing. And, of course, leftist groups like ABM are on board with the scam.
Another level of corruption may also be at work here:
The financial reason for ABM’s scrubbing of their Xcel Energy criticism likely comes from the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) Minnesota and North Dakota chapter, which contributed $300,000 dollars to the 2020 fund, which may have passed the money along to ABM.
LIUNA reached an agreement to support Xcel Energy’s preferred Integrated Resource Plan when the process began in 2019. This plan would force the premature retirement of Xcel’s coal fleet and install thousands of megawatts of wind turbines and solar panels.
These new projects represent a large pool of potential projects for LIUNA, so it stands to reason that they were unhappy that a group they may help finance was attacking Xcel, which is the hand that feeds them.
What is going on here is the most massive fraud of our time. “Green” ideologues drive misconceptions about energy that cause the public to favor wind and solar, despite their obvious deficiencies. Many of these ideologues are on the gravy train in various ways. Investor-owned utilities like Xcel Energy are happy to endorse these “green” narratives because they stand to earn billions on the investments in wind and solar that those narratives supposedly justify. Public Utilities Commissions, like the one in Minnesota, are often appointed by politicians who are lavishly funded by the “green” interests that are printing guaranteed money due to irrational mandates.
So they scratch one another’s backs, and the only ones who suffer are the ratepayers and taxpayers. That is, you and me, and pretty much everyone. The whole fraud is run by the Left, and when a leftist outfit tries to expose price gouging, and is right–for once!–they are quietly taken aside and someone explains, No no, these are our price gougers. Gougers that operate with a mandate from environmentalists and Democratic Party politicians, who share in the booty. Oops, says the far-left activist group. Sorry! And they quickly retreat. No problem, since they never cared about ratepayers and taxpayers–those who are not astonishingly rich heiresses–in the first place.
Could the Left possibly be more corrupt? I don’t know. It wouldn’t be easy.