Robert L. Bradley, Jr.
The current debate over restructuring the electric industry makes a look back at the origins of political electricity relevant. The thesis of this chapter-government intervention into electric markets was not the result of market failures but business and political opportunism-suggests that the intellectual and empirical case for market-oriented reform is even stronger than would otherwise be the case.
A major theme of applied political economy is the dynamics of government intervention in the marketplace. Because interventions are often related, an analytical distinction can be made between basis point intervention and cumulative intervention (Bradley, 1996). Basis point regulation, taxation, or subsidization is the opening government intervention into a market setting; cumulative intervention is further regulation, taxation, or subsidization that is attributable to the effects of prior (basis point or cumulative) intervention. The origins and maturation of political electricity are interpretable through this theoretical framework.
The End of a Natural Monopoly: Deregulation and Competition in the Electric Power Industry, Volume 7, pages 43-75.
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