Quick Bit: Load-shedding is artificial scarcity. It is difficult to stop once it starts. We in the U.S. must change course while we still can.

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What that means for me, staying in a comfortable hotel that provided us with emergency lights, is that I have to write in semi-darkness and use my phone to connect to the Internet. The main building has a generator: there will be breakfast.

What it means for the rest of the city’s commuters and students is that their rainy day is now even more miserable.

This is the morning rush — when parents are trying to feed and clothe their children before bundling them off to school, when workers are making their way into town from distant squatter camps, when business owners are unlocking their shops and factories in the hope of making payroll in a pandemic-ravaged economy.

An entire day’s production, an entire lesson plan, a whole schedule is lost. And in the darkness where street lights once glowed, there is also the fear of crime along the way.

Load-shedding has been a reality of life for South Africans for about a decade. Twenty years ago, the state-owned power company, Eskom, produced the cheapest power in Africa. It was even considering new, cutting-edge projects, such as pebble bed modular nuclear reactors. It was a valued asset, considered a prime candidate for privatization to attract foreign investors.

Today Eskom is junk, hated by South Africa for the hardship it imposes on their lives while charging high rates.

Eskom’s failure was not inevitable. It was the outcome of specific decisions made by the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

Rather than privatizing the company, the ANC bowed to its trade union allies, which believed in keeping Eskom in state hands for ideological reasons. The ruling party made the best of things by using Eskom to reward its cronies with jobs, dish out contracts to its friends, and pursue aggressive affirmative action policies that cost the company many skilled engineers.

The country was warned that it would eventually run out of electricity:

In 1998, the Department of Minerals and Energy said, “Eskom’s generation capacity surplus will be fully utilised by about 2007”.

This warning was ignored, and, as predicted, South Africa ran out of energy in 2007 and had to implement load-shedding.

Energy experts issued many subsequent warnings about the country’s electricity supply shortages, but they also fell on deaf ears.

The interests of corrupt Eskom executives and politically connected businesspeople enjoyed preference over the interests of the country.

Now the truth can no longer be denied, as the country sits in darkness. But in a system dominated by one political party, change is difficult.

Cities like Cape Town, which is governed by the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), have decided to do the unthinkable and reach out beyond Eskom to invite bids from private power companies. Johannesburg, recently captured by the DA in local elections, is doing the same. But those solutions are a long way off.

In the interim, South Africa’s major cities must suffer periodic outages that are killing the country’s economic growth and causing untold hardship, especially to the poor.

Yesterday, I met an old friend’s daughter for tea. She lives in a corrugated iron shack in the township of Khayelitsha and is studying law at a local university, hoping to escape poverty. Earlier, she had been giving a PowerPoint presentation in class when load-shedding cut her short.

Last week, during another outage, her smartphone — on which she depends for school assignments — literally exploded when the electricity surged after power was restored. She showed me its charred remains.

Lest we think this is only a Third World phenomenon, be warned: it is coming to the U.S.

In August 2020, California suffered rolling blackouts when wind and solar power failed to make up demand during a heat wave. In February 2021, Texas suffered the same during a winter snap that froze wind turbines.

We are rushing toward “renewable” energy and abandoning fossil fuels in pursuit of “green” policies that will have a negligible effect, if best, on global climate change.

In both South Africa and the U.S., ideology is suppressing common sense. In both cases, the more prudent approach would be to adopt careful, incremental reforms: training more black engineers without losing qualified people whose skills were acquired, however unfairly, under the old regime; adding “green” energy to the menu of options without ending fossil fuels.

Instead, critics of these policies are demonized and marginalized — as racists in South Africa, as climate “denialists” in the U.S. Their warnings are being ignored, while the climate of ideological conformity creates opportunities for corruption.

Load-shedding is artificial scarcity. It is difficult to stop once it starts. We in the U.S. must change course while we still can.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

Originally found on Breitbart Read More

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