Market-driven economy is totally fine as long as we're talking about choice in clothing styles and car models. When it comes to things that people depend on, like energy, markets fail. They have done so currently in Texas where its private energy providers were not ready for an emergency:

It never makes business sense to invest resources into managing emergencies. It's much cheaper to just shrug and say "shit happens", as customers have nowhere to go anyway.

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The site description of ERCOT says: "The Electric Reliability Council of Texas operates the electric grid and manages the deregulated market for 75 percent of the state."

Note that "deregulated".

And now: "A 2011 cold snap led ERCOT to impose new “winterization” regulations to forestall power plant failures, but that those efforts seem to have been insufficient, he said."

Of course they're going to be insufficient if you pride yourself on deregulation…

… to be fair, state owned everything is not a panacea either (take it from a Soviet-born Russian). Ideology is not a substitute for complexity management. Yes, we need markets. And yes, they do need to be heavily regulated.

Don't worry, capitalism will fix this one too by offering extra cold-weather fees to end consumers that have no realistic alternatives to a company that has devoted itself to squeezing as much money out of a customer as possible without providing anything else than the absolute minimum in return.

@ScumbagDog it's already doing that, actually. The gas prices are record-high right now, which is what powers the majority of power plants there. It's yet another reason why they couldn't come online quickly: they simply can't afford fuel at this time of year.

@ScumbagDog @isagalaev

"Capitalism" isn't a single closed political system (as opposed to Marxism for example). Sweden, USA, Russia and China are all capitalist, yet totally different.

The reason why I'm talking about it all the time is that if we can't get semantics right, then we can't diagnose problems, and then our solutions (aka "get rid of capitalism") will be ineffective.

@kravietz @ScumbagDog agreed. Unfortunately, tribalism and absolutism are easy, while nuances is hard. Which is why I don't expect meaningless "capitalism" vs. "socialism" arguments to go away any time soon.

(Disclosure: I myself broadly fall into "social democratic" category.)

@isagalaev @ScumbagDog

Same here. And we might also have the same shared experience historically of an *actual* "socialist" economy 😂

It was mostly a jab at the self-proclaimed libertarians that swear by a free, unregulated market to solve any problem regardless of nature but yeah, of course capitalism isn't all terribleness, just like socialism isn't the end-all-be-all. It's about striking a balance for the benefit of real, living people, and not an investment firm on Wall Street.

@ScumbagDog @isagalaev

What is happening in Texas is an excellent example of ideological dogmatism in action - everyone else is joining their grid to trade energy and increase resilience, Texas closed themselves and pretended they are self-sufficient. That's the very opposite of pragmatism, which is usually the strongest side of capitalist economies.

@isagalaev >> It never makes business sense to invest resources into managing emergencies.

What about “being prepared for an emergency” as a competitive advantage? Why is it impossible?

@zholobov it's hard to sell to customers. People prefer to buy cheaper and prefer not to pay for something that may only happen in several years time, if ever. Basically, markets simply reflect human nature of not always choosing what's actually good for us over what makes us feel good right now.

@isagalaev @zholobov same thing with selling security, as in "secure software". There's not enough incentive and those who already faced the problems (like got their entire hard drive encrypted) will search for stop-gap solution to that specific problem, going to separate market of antiviral software. I'm so glad windows includes a reasonably good anti-virus and implements many of the passive measures at this point

@isagalaev I’m just trying to understand what was the correct solution to this. So I’ll play devil’s advocate. Do you think Texas should have winterized their power grid, given their weather stats? Or just having the grid not isolated from the national one would be correct?

@zholobov having read more about it in the past few days I actually think they couldn't do significantly better, given their climate *). Yes, looks like winterization regulations from the 2011 freeze was insufficient, but that event was also milder.

*) I will say though that having "climate change is not real" as a state policy probably played its role. It's only a matter of time when another record flood, hurricane, freeze or drought hits, and they still won't admit the obvious.

@zholobov as for not peering with outer grids… I firmly believe isolationism is very dumb in the XXI century. Unfortunately, there are too many people in Texas who believe it's the part (or even the core part) of their culture.

@isagalaev I agree that winterization was done appropriately given realistic view on cost vs risk. But having no contingency plan in form of being part of outer grid at least for emergencies was wrong. It also doesn’t sit with me well that not bring connected to outside grid means they make a statement they won’t help neighbors in principle too. Being an introverted person strongly preferring self-reliance myself I always make effort to remain connected and will always help. Not good, Texas.

@isagalaev I read a post about peculiarities of Texas weather from our prominent UW meteo guy. And now I’m less sure they did adequate winterization.

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