NOTE: Don't leave until you watch the video at the bottom of this rant.
Yikes! The month's electric bill arrived yesterday from my power supplier, Consolidated Edison of New York. According to their bill, I used 116 kilowatt hours of power. for which they’re charging 13. 3190 cents per kilowatt hour, a total of $15.95.
Therefore my bill ought to have been $15.95, right? Hell no! It was $48.56.
So how can anybody be billed $48.56 for $15.95 (retail value) worth of electricity? I am so glad you asked?
1. The "somebody else is a deadbeat" charge. Con Edison charged me a 55-cent “Merchant function charge.” What’s that? Con Ed helpfully explains that it’s a “Charge associated with procuring electricity, credit and collection related activities and uncollectible accounts.” Which means, in part, that they’re charging me extra because they couldn’t get the money out of some anonymous deadbeat, so they're taking it out of my pocket. God help us all if Con Ed's chairman ever goes to Las Vegas and loses his own wad.
2. The "you-pay-my-taxes" charges. Con Ed also charged me for “Taxes on Con Edison gross receipts from sales of utility services and other tax surcharges.” In other words, I’m paying a tax because I, and a bunch of other consumers, gave them money and Con Ed doesn’t want to pay its own taxes on the money we're pouring into their coffers.
3. The "shipping not included" charge. I paid a “delivery” charge of $10.78 because the power company is “maintaining the system through which Con Edison delivers electricity to you.” It's like having an extra charge tacked on to your groceries because the supermarket has to sweep out the store at night. Well, I suppose the power company is entitled to a delivery charge, although a charge costing two-thirds of what the product itself costs sounds a trifle steep to me. Suppose you bought a necklace for, say, $1,000 and the jeweler tried to charge you $666 for delivery. See what I mean?
4. The "this is only temporary (har-har!)" charge. I have to pay charges for renewable energy, a “temporary” New York State surcharge of 46 and a half cents per kilowatt hour (I’m betting that charge is "temporary" until they raise it to 63 cents). There was also another gross receipts tax on the “delivery” charges that Con Ed socked me with, plus there were sales taxes. These brought the bill for my less-than-fifteen-and-a-half bucks worth of electricity up to the $48.56.
I keep finding the same kind of nickel-and-dime charges on my cell phone, cable, Internet connection and landline telephone bills. While buying legislators to destroy the middle class by reducing the services, benefits and Social Security and Medicare support you and I get from the government, the corporate honchos get bigger and bigger salaries and tax breaks. And now they're doing even more to destroy us with these blood-from-a-stone charges.
Which brings me to this: