Pierre, I think I can answer your first question. The reason so few people who hold one set of views but not another that superficially resembles those, is that different principles are at work. None of these people are denying that race or other foci of identities exist. What they/we object to is codifying the mere existence of those foci into inequality before the law. I think you simply misinterpret an admittedly sometimes poorly expressed objection: we oppose race-based redress measure not literally "because it requires racial classification", but because of what use that classification undeniably is intended to be put to: creating inequality of opportunity, by treating people differently before the law.
Maybe I misunderstand what you mean by "construct" or "anything essential", but I believe you are mistaken to say that race, gender, or sexual orientation are "constructs and do not say anything essential about who we are as individuals". Or at least, they are not only constructs. What is a construct is how much these categories should matter in various contexts.
On to the meat of your article: you are a constitutional law expert and I am not, so obviously I must defer to your legal analysis. But I need not defer to your moral analysis. What you have convinced me of with this article is not that Discovery's share scheme is just, but that SA's constitution as written (or maybe only as interpreted in the tests it has been put to?) is contaminated by ideas I want as far away from me as possible. I used to think that the constitution is "basically okay, in no need of repair or other tinkering", but now my view is changed, if it (or maybe rather its interpretation) approves of the unequal treatment before the law of people based only on superficial identity differences. Andile Ramaphosa (Cyril's eldest son) must be in the top 100 of privileged people in this country, but merely because he is black he should attract even more privileges wherever he goes, being able to step into jobs or win tenders or pursue academic qualifications, opportunities which are closed to me merely because my skin is white, even though my net worth is maybe a thousandth of Andile's? If you cannot see that this is obviously not right, then I don't know how to persuade you. Perhaps you will point out that the "overwhelming majority" of prospective Discovery Bank clients are not Andile Ramaphosas. But how exactly are Andile, and more broadly black members of the middle and upper class, discriminated against today? Which opportunities are denied to them because they are black? Where are they denied respect in ways that giving them free shares will remedy? How does this compare to the opportunities denied to white youngsters born after 1994, who get told they are "not demographically representative" and can't have this job / can't go to medical school / can't win a tender?
Perhaps I should leave my disagreement here: "You do not have to show that the scheme is necessary to achieve the redress goal, but only that the measure must be reasonably capable of achieving the desired outcome of redress." I wonder if it may turn out that Discovery know something about black consumers' financial habits that they can't afford to talk about publicly. Something that, were it more widely known (or admitted), would undermine the condition that this scheme be "reasonably capable of achieving the desired outcome." Time will tell, but don't say I didn't warn you if in 5 years you squawk about Discovery "oppressing" its black customers through higher interest rates on loans or something like that. Without ever explicitly having to base that credit decision on race.
Friday, November 23, 2018
Thursday, July 19, 2018
My criticism in this post is centered on the front page article of the Constantia Bulletin, 19 July 2018, by Karen Watkins. As usual, this Watkins article reads like a press release from whomever she was interviewing. Exactly zero probing and challenging of rationales, barely even lip service to counter-arguments. This would no doubt be different if the article were about some pseudo-scientific BS like "electromagnetic hypersensitivity".
- Presumably quoting Xanthea Limberg, Watkins writes that "off-grid systems, or systems not connected to the grid directly or indirectly through a building's internal wiring, such as a solar-powered pool pump, must still register with the City so that they are not mistaken for an unauthorised SSEG installation".
My response: not being mistaken for an unauthorised SSEG installation does not constitute a reason to force residents to register such systems. In our legal system, we are generally presumed innocent until proven guilty. Under that principle, a couple of solar panels on someone's roof should be presumed to not be an unauthorised SSEG installation until proven otherwise.
In fact there's a very large class of households that the city must realise cannot be the home of an unauthorised SSEG installation: all those with prepaid meters. Prepaid meters are (or were, at least, when they were a new thing) designed specifically not to allow reverse power feeding: they do not allow power to flow from someone's rooftop PV installation onto the City's distribution grid. That's one very easy way to eliminate many cases of "mistaken for an unauthorised SSEG installation".
- "Ms Limberg urged people to register their systems for the safety of occupants and City staff, for grid stability and quality, the legal risk and grid cost."
Bullshit, Ms Limberg: a solar power system that is not connected to the grid does not endanger City staff at all - that's inherently what "not connected to the grid" means. The safety of occupants is a valid concern, but maybe that should be up to the occupants to negotiate with the property owner? And who says there even are occupants besides the owner or the person who installed the oh-so-scary photovoltaic panels?
Registering generating systems also has zero effect on grid stability and quality. Registering only creates a paper trail; it doesn't move electrons around in an electricity grid. Besides, we're talking about systems that are not connected to the grid!
- "Dr De Decker said the City could readily see transgressors on aerial maps and could check the address to see if owners had the necessary approval."
Maybe just bad journalism from Watkins, because Dr De Decker is a system installer and has a commercial incentive to scare people into engaging their services. If instead this is a true reflection of the City's intentions, I would be very curious to know if such action would constitute a legal search. Spying on us like this, which is ostensibly justified to produce maps, but more recently also to inform municipal rates valuations, sans any concrete suspicion of wrongdoing, does not feel like justice. It feels like enduring the Stasi of East Germany.
- "Dr De Decker said ... She explained that if several houses were generating and using solar power and a cloud passed overhead, there was a resultant surge of electricity demand on the City's power. The City has to make provision for this as it puts pressure on the electrical transformer in the area."
What nonsense is this? The Sun shines best at noon, which is nowhere near the morning and evening demand peaks which do stress the electrical infrastructure. And at worst, the full demand of these houses suddenly appears on the grid, just as it would in the absense of solar power and for which the electrical infrastructure is sized anyway. This sounds just like the thought-terminating cliches that I expect from a municipality, so I have to wonder if Dr De Decker is simply repeating City materials.
If anyone incurs problems from sudden fluctuations in load, it is Eskom. I fail to see how City-owned infrastructure suffers from such fluctuations. And in any case, most solar power systems I've seen come with a storage system: a bank of batteries, that can certainly absorb the miniscule load variance that a cloud passing in front of the Sun would cause.
- "There is currently no fee for registration itself" HAHAHAHA and I have a bridge I'd like to sell you, it goes all the way to the moon you see, if you believe that there won't be a fee in future, once people are registered and captive to the City's predations.
But I'll have my petty revenge. From now on, when I turn on my water heater so that I can shower in superarctic temperature, I will do it when it is least convenient for the City's "grid stability" pseudo-concern: at 7am or at 7pm.
Friday, May 4, 2018
I just sent this objection to the City via www.dearcapetown.co.za's one-stop whinging interface:
The City's "ideas" for plugging its funding hole are going from bad (drought levy) to worse (meter fees). Not to mention arbitrary and irrational.
Water meter fee: It is arbitrary, irrational, and unjust to charge residents for the historical accident of what size connection was used (typically decades ago) to connect the property to its water meter. The proposed fees are far in excess of any reasonable "cost of capital" considerations. To me it seems fair to apply "punitive" usage-based increases to water usage: what happened to the "user pays" principle we usually hear so much about?
At some point the City must consider asking the "poor" (poverty is not binary) to pay a little more too. It is not fair to ask me to pay R150+/month for 1-2 kiloliters/month when people defined as "poor" merely by the value of the property they live in pay zero for up to 6 kiloliters/month. This is not an "anti-poor" sentiment (I am "poor" too by the income metric) - there is nuance and a middle ground here.
Electricity meter fees: Similar objection to the water meter fee. Charges should be usage-based, not existence-based. The already progressive property rates should be considered to already incorporate costs of maintaining infrastructure such as electricity distribution networks. If this bogus fee gets passed, I will see an effective 250% increase in my average monthly cost of electricity over the last two years. Just the meter fee alone exceeds what I was paying on average (based on actual usage, not the City's bogus "average" based on selectively tallying purchases) a year or two ago. Do I have to sell my home and register as indigent (which I would qualify for except for my home's valuation) to get the City to stop financially abusing me?
Like everything I do, I left this to the last day. If you see this in time, please support Cape Town residents' push against the City's abusive budget proposals. Send your own objection, perhaps inspired by some points you agree with in other objections, either via dearcapetown's one-stop shop or by directly emailing the City.