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By Alan Caruba
On May 11th, the State Treasurer of California, Phil Angelides, let it be known that "in the next few weeks" the fascists elected to represent the people of that state would decide whether or not to seize privately owned power plants in order to survive the soaring summer electricity prices.
Gov. Gray Davis, who has emergency powers to take such action, was reported to be "considering" the idea. "This is not a radical notion," said Angelides. "This is a self-preservation notion. What's at stake is the very fiscal survivability of the state of California."
No, what's at stake is the right of any state to regulate a business into bankruptcy and then take its assets for its own political survival.
The politicians and regulatory bureaucrats of California ignored its growing need for electrical energy, refusing time and again, for two decades to permit the building of new plants for the generation of electricity and the transmission lines required to distributed it. Now these same politicians have the nerve to claim the utilities were "gouging" their customers for electricity they were forced to buy on the spot market.
Everything that occurred to the energy producers was the direct result of the legislation passed by California's politicians, all pandering to the environmentalists demanding "alternative sources" and other proposals that totally denied the most basic law of supply and demand. This is why Californians are now paying the highest rates in the history of that state.
The legislation that supposedly "deregulated" the utilities actually put an end to any long-term business planning for new power plants, while also ending the need for short-term planning. Electricity would literally be bought one day before its purchase and use by consumers.
Writing in the May issue of The Intellectual Activist, Jack Wakeland expressed it this way: "The California economy had become exposed to a risk not seen in America since the nineteenth century, a risk pre-industrial agrarian societies are compelled to accept. The state's high-technology economy had become vulnerable to the weather."
The weather! Here's what happens when Mother Nature doesn't cooperate. Hydropower, dependent on rainfall and the melting of snow packs, ceases to be available. That's exactly what happened in Oregon, Washington and Idaho, where the geniuses of California thought they could buy cheap electrical power forever. Then on March 19th temperatures in Los Angeles reached an unseasonable 87 degrees. Everyone turned on their air conditioners. Shortly thereafter, the rolling blackouts began to cut off a half million people at a time in order to protect the system.
Shamelessly, on Tuesday, May 14th, the Democratic Party in the person of Dick Gephardt was claiming that "Electricity and gasoline are like air or water because, without them, people can't do the things that all of us, as Americans, take for granted." No! We are expected to pay for things like the water from our tap, the gasoline from the pump, and the electricity from the socket. They are not free, they have never been free. Someone had to invest millions to produce and distribute these products.
The Democrats would rather demagogue this issue than join in solving it. In a particularly ugly way, Gephardt cited the administration's "unprecedented ties to the energy industry" without mentioning the restrictions imposed by Congress and regulatory agencies that have caused the problem. Also unmentioned were Bill Clinton's "unprecedented" ties to illegal Red Chinese donations the Democratic Party received, his raid on the nation's strategic oil reserves, or the Gore tax on gasoline that is still in effect.
The Democrats are gambling on one question: Just how dumb are Americans? Here's a partial answer. Citing a poll taken May 7-9, USA Today reported that only 38% favored opening the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge for oil exploration, but 63% favored drilling for natural gas on federal lands. What's the difference?
None. Here's where it gets really scary. Fully 91% would support investment in solar or wind production of energy. Remember what happens when Mother Nature doesn't cooperate? Lights don't go on. The only good news from the poll was that at least 83% understood the need to build new power generating plants. Did they, however, understand you have to mine coal or drill for oil and natural gas to power most of these plants?
Consider how another state dealt with its need for electrical energy. Texas, the home state of George W. Bush, has an oversupply. The reason for this is that Texas choose not to over-regulate, making it a very good place for providers of electricity to do business. It is expected that by 2002, Texas's surplus could exceed 15,000 megawatts. This estimate is based on the fact that there are 27 new generating stations currently under construction!
In California, however, the Greens and the politicians who pandered to them---the same idiots who perpetrated their energy crisis---are letting it be known they intend to seize the assets of privately owned companies. Who would want to invest there? And, as for those people invested in California energy companies, you can kiss their retirement and other plans goodbye!
The Bush administration is doing the right thing. Instead of band-aid approaches to the problem, they are telling Americans that this nation with its growing population and growing economy must build more power plants, must give relief to refineries working at 96% of their capacity by encouraging oil companies to build more and expand the capacity of existing ones. To achieve this, however, will require junking a ton of EPA regulations standing in the way.
We need to drill in a tiny section of the most God-forsaken area of Alaska where the sun does not shine nine months a year. Why? Because there's an estimated 16 billion barrels of oil there. We must begin to drill offshore of California and offshore of Florida where more oil exists. We must begin to build nuclear plants as well because, glory be, they don't emit any "pollution."
When California runs out of money to buy electricity, it will become just another third-world nation where no one knows when the electricity will be turned on or off. This is what happens when people listen to the torrent of lies about "pollution" caused by the use of "fossil fuels" and dependency on "alternative energy sources" that are so costly and ineffective as to be useless.
When this nation deregulates energy production and distribution, we will have more energy. Texas is proof of that. It's called "free market principles" and Capitalism. It is the only way to avoid a worsening California crisis and the fascist response being proposed to "solve" it.
Alan Caruba is the founder of The National Anxiety Center, a clearinghouse for information about scare campaigns designed to influence public opinion and policy. The Center maintains an Internet site at www.anxietycenter.com. (c) Alan Caruba, 2001.
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