Non Fiction

Graham Williams

The Sydney Morning Herald Saturday 28/6/03, Spectrum, p. 19.

Power Play: The Fight for Control of the World's Electricity, Sharon Beder, Scribe Publications, $35

Proponents of the deregulation of the electricity supply in the US campaigned expensively on the theme of "what could be worse than big government?" The answer, as Sharon Beder, of Wollongong University, shows in meticulously researched detail, was plenty. She traces the appalling political debauching and financial trickery of Enron, a company that never produced any of the once-public assets it traded in as it gouged its way to colossal wealth and humiliating collapse. In California, privatisation led to energy costs soaring by $US11 billion ($16 billion) in a year, and ultimately an effective re-regulation of $US71 billion. Beder ranges widely: the US, Britain, Brazil, India, New Zealand and Australia. She demonstrates the failure of the extravagant promises made in the name of appropriating public property for private profit. Not pretty reading, but an important and salutary tale.

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