Politics Out of Power Now

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For
some time, a radical element of Southern California's Hispanic community
has made the proposition that California be "given back"
to Mexico. Without examination of the validity of that claim, the
supernatural stupidity of the California state government and our
major media outlets makes one wonder if in fact Mexico might take
better care of the territory.

Once
again, California's citizens are facing rolling blackouts, the State
government is threatening theft of private property (taking over
powerplants through "eminent domain"), and the media is
parroting the State's news conferences in content and language.
The pattern appears unbreakable. They're blaming "deregulation"
for our "power woes." Which is something like blaming
capitalism for the poverty of the North Korean people.

The
best analogy I can think of for California's "deregulation
experiment" is a group of legislators coming across a man bound
hand and foot, hogtied, blindfolded, with plugs in his ears and
duct tape over his mouth. After several hours of discussion, they
come up with a plan. They remove the earplugs and then dance around
shouting "we have freed this man!"

Some
time later, they realize that the man is not moving or saying anything,
so they begin to debate anew. "Perhaps we should put the earplugs
back in?" suggests one. "Well," another pipes up,
"if we cut off his legs at the ankles, the hogties is no longer
an issue."

Obviously,
no one in the state government or news media bothered to attend
Economics classes when they went to college. It's too bad, really,
because the solution is so blasted obvious that anyone in the State
government who took an economics class and isn't talking about it
is criminally irresponsible.

If
we had deregulated consumer prices, this would not have happened.
We have plenty of power, but since it's artificially cheap, we use
more of it. So the obvious alternative to the State shutting down
people's power randomly is allowing people to buy the power they
want or need. There is no need for rolling blackouts except as a
political tool to convince the unaware that more State authority
is the solution.

Ladies
and gentlemen, those of you who haven't "got it" yet,
this is a fundraiser. As Harry Browne is fond of saying, the State
has broken the legs of the power industry in California and is now
attempting to foist crutches upon them so that it can claim credit
for the solution to a problem that would not exist but for its machinations.
These Soviet-style shortages (rolling blackouts) are the result
of a policy more designed to increase the State's power than to
actually "provide" power to anyone.

This
is, of course, the natural result of politicizing an industry. Some
blame PG&E or Southern California Edison for "gouging."
This is an amusing concept, since they have exactly zero control
over either their costs or their prices. Some people blame the out-of-state
power suppliers for "gouging," despite the fact that they
are just responding to the bizarre market distortions introduced
by the state, such as the inability to make long-term contracts
and the inability of their customers to pay them because their income
is strictly limited.

There
is something we can blame them for, however. They chose to accept
this mad scheme and allow the State to politicize and control their
market. But most at fault here, of course, are "we the people."
The people who sit by and do nothing, the people who allow themselves
to be distracted by the politicians and their shell games. Solar
power is irrelevant. Conservation drives are irrelevant. The power
companies are, frankly, also irrelevant. Our problem is political
control, and that political control has created this power problem.

The
consumer groups are rabidly accusing power companies of terrorism
and encouraging the Governor to use the National Guard to intimidate
the power companies into selling their assets (thus removing their
ability to do business), and lower their prices (thus putting themselves
the rest of the way out of business). This would also have the effect
of establishing California as an official police state. Papers,
please? House-to-house searches for generators?

Have
no doubts, those making these suggestions (using the military to
forcibly
control industry) are Fascists, in the most basic way. They are
arrogant,
self-righteous, power-mad control freaks. The so-called consumer
groups here in California are seperated from Nazi Germany only by
racial rhetoric and fashion sense.

After
what happened in the last round, my advice to the power company
owners would be to lock the doors and leave the State, and possibly
the country. That would be a very hard thing to do, of course, and
won't happen. No, eventually the politicians will wrangle out a
temporary deal which will cede even more power to the State, which
it will use in traditional fashion. I only hope I will have moved
to another State before they finally destroy our entire power grid
through their centrally-planned madness.

The
long term solution is to unplug the State's control over the electricity
market in California. It will be uncomfortable for a while as California
consumers become accustomed to the Real World, but, if you want
to play in the Real World, you have to learn Real World moves.

The
only other choice is to give them more power to steal from the producers.
Of course, as we've seen, they have nothing left to steal, and so
we are at the end of that road.

Let's
hope that a wave of common sense and decency descends on the State
Capitol. Me, I'm shopping for a generator. Or a house in Nevada.

January
20, 2001

Chad
Reichle is a technology geek, musician, and occasional author residing
in the really odd land of California. For the moment.

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