Imagine you go to the grocery store and when you put your items on the counter, the checkout clerk asks you your annual income. I can only guess about the number of swearwords you would use in your response—I would bet it would be between zero and four—but I can almost guarantee the gist of your response: “That’s none of your damn business.”

It really isn’t the checkout clerk’s or the store’s business. Fortunately, no one in California’s grocery stores is asking that question. At least not yet. So why am I even discussing this? Because Californians will soon be subject to an income test to determine how much they will pay for their electric utilities. In April of this year, three major utilities—Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric—proposed to California’s Public Utility Commission (PUC) that they be allowed to charge customers a rate based partly on income. When I first read about this months ago, I blamed the utilities. I shouldn’t have. It turns out that they are trying to comply with a law that California’s legislature passed. The law requires the PUC to base rates in part on a household’s income. From each according to his ability, to each according to his need. Marxism lite, anyone?

These are the opening 2 paragraphs of David R. Henderson, “California Gets a Jolt of Marxism,” Defining Ideas, June 22, 2023.

An excerpt:

Borenstein goes on to point out that the artificially high prices Californians now pay for a kilowatt-hour cause us to use less electricity and more natural gas for our homes and businesses and more gasoline for our cars. He argues that the price per kilowatt-hour should be brought down closer to its incremental cost so that we would use more electricity, including in electric cars.

There are three problems with his argument.

I also consider the loss of privacy about our incomes.

Read the whole thing.