Isn't Bailing Out California Utilities Just Another Form of Welfare?

    Well, gentle readers, the headline on the front page of the Friday, Jan 5 Los Angeles Times says it all: "Governor, Legislators Moving Toward Bailout of Utilities".  The sub-headline reads "Bonds issued by the state could be a key element.  Other officials call for a public power authority.  The PUC approves a 90-day rate hike."

    Okay, now pardon my obvious lack of understanding the key differences here but exactly what part of this "bailout" isn't a socialistic scheme to support a failure of corporations which were instrumental in their own disaster?  SCE and PG&E spent millions buying the needed representatives it took to influence your legislature into passing the bill creating a deregulated energy market in California.  They and their fellow executives from the state's utilities basically wrote the same laws that they are now whining about are driving them into bankruptcy.  For some strange reason, these clowns thought that the corporations to whom they sold their generation capacity would be really kind and caring and sell them power at some low and profitless rates in order that the major utilities could jack up the price a bit and everyone would be happy.

    Well, welcome to the wonderful world of the consumer, you idiots.  Just as the reality that the term "deregulate" means that the consumer is about to be screwed in order that Corporate America can make even greater obscene profits, you are now learning that your good buddies, the power providers, will happily pick your pocket as thoroughly as possible in hopes of taking every last cent that you have available.

    Just how will the state help this monolithic corporation to keep the wolf of massive debts from the door?  Why, we'll just have the state borrow a few tens of billions of dollars and hand it over to these imbeciles, leaving the customers and the state's taxpayers holding the bag when the next industry sponsored robbery occurs and SCE and PG&E and their cohorts declare that they can't afford to pay the state back.

    How badly are the poor consumers of the power from these bozos going to be screwed?  Well, the PUC is setting the damages at between 7% to 15%.

    Now, correct me if I'm wrong, boys and girls, but isn't the entire foundation of capitalism the reality that only the strongest and most skillfully managed businesses may survive and that those who are as mismanaged and ignorant as has become obvious of SCE and PG&E and the rest must be left bankrupted by the wayside?  Isn't this simply the foundation of the entire Republican Party?  In fact, isn't this the entire justification for the destruction of the social welfare system; the strong survive and to hell with the rest of the women and children?  If, in basis of fact, social welfare is only socialism, as so many members of the Rabid Right have cried for the last thirty years, then exactly how is corporate welfare in any way, shape or form anything but socialism in its most hideous usage, a government stealing from the poor to profit the rich?

    Folks, I really don't care about the overpaid and under qualified executives of these utilities.  In fact, if they were reduced to standing in line at the same soup kitchens that they work so hard to under fund through tax cut after tax cut for themselves it would make my heart soar.  If their offices were sealed and the air purified after their public ejections then I would only applaud and cheer.

    Sadly, of course, the idiocy and the clumsiness that their business practices amount to also affects real human beings; the employees whose entire lives are dedicated to just doing their jobs to the very best of their abilities.  It is they and they alone who deserve our assistance and support.  If there were some way to prop up these poorly run corporations by demanding that all of the high level executives be simply dismissed (and no damned golden parachutes, either, just kick their pasty white butts out the door), while maintaining the employment and status of all of the people who actually work for a living, then I would be wholeheartedly in favor of any sort of bailout that the state comes up with.

    If the executives stay, however, then I say let Wall Street and the parent corporations bail them out using their own profits and dividends and keep their greedy little paws out of the public's coffers.  Failing that, then it would be best to simply force these utilities to sell off all of their property and equipment within the state to either profitable corporations or to the state itself.  

    It would also, obviously, behoove the state to reinstitute the regulation of all power and water utilities within the state immediately and to force the return of reliable power and water at reasonable and fair rates.  Next, the state must create a successor to the current PUC that would be responsible for the protection of the consumer first, large power users second and the utilities themselves third.

    Gentle readers, you and I both know that we're going to end up holding the bag, once again, for an American corporation, that uses the government it has long ago bought, to steal your tax money in order to cover the blatant farce that is capitalism in the 2001.  Since you and I are without representation, we will always be the goat and the patsy for the wealthy and for Corporate America.  Sadly, this past election even proved that your vote doesn't mean squat since the candidate with the least number of actual votes can just ask the conservative majority on the Supreme Court to steal the office of the presidency and hand it over to one of the greatest morons who have ever soiled the American spirit.

    Nevertheless, boys and girls, being a progressive means never giving up to the forces of evil (otherwise known as the Republican Party).  Being a progressive means always believing that somewhere deep within the American psyche there remains a small, flickering ember of intelligence and decency and that it will only take encouraging that ember into flame for America to turn away from the dirty politics of the conservative (compassionate or otherwise) and toward a nation that actually cares about something other than just their sick and demented lives of greed and selfishness.

    Of course, the reality is that we might as well open up our wallets and let Corporate America take what they will since any other future would require Americans to think.  Fat chance!

 

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Copyright 1/20/01