Sunday, February 21, 2021

WSJ: Freewheeling Capitalism at Work in Texas

Source of image

Richard Mellor

Afscme Local 444, retired


Texans would be without electricity for longer than three days to keep the federal government out of their business,” Former Texas Governor, Rick Perry

Energy or power whether it is supplied by water, wind, fossil fuels or solar, is a vital social need and no civilized society could exist without it. It is one of those necessities of life that should not be a commodity.


But the capitalist system of producing society’s needs is not civilized, it is barbaric. It has never, even in the most powerful advanced country in the world, provided such needs for most of the people; for its victims globally, and that includes the natural world, it has always meant horror. Here in the United States, the English capitalists that came here driven by the desire for new markets and trade, the first step they took, beyond their immediate survival, was building a profitable colony and eventually a modern nation state. To accomplish that meant ownership of the land and removing the people who lived on it just as they did back home.


The comments below are penned by paid mouthpieces of capitalism through perhaps it’s most important organ, the Wall Street Journal. They are a response to yet another social disaster, another failure of the so-called free market system. It’s not a dam this time that could have killed a couple hundred thousand people like the one in Oroville CA or the two privately owned dams that were breached in Michigan.  It’s not an explosion in West, Texas, that destroyed a few blocks and many houses that started at a fertilizer plant that some moron decided would be OK right next to a school.

West, Texas Explosion 2013

It was not a gas leak, or a nuclear accident like the one in Fukushima Japan that wasn’t an accident either but another market driven catastrophe. No worker in their right mind, that wasn’t driven by profit addiction, would suggest building four nuclear reactors next to the ocean in an area known globally as the “Ring of Fire” due to its volcanic activity. The people that made that decision did not live in that community that’s for sure.


The situation we are witnessing in Texas has been made possible through decisions made by politicians representing the very people who own the means of producing the energy. There are thousands who have suffered, many have died. There are guilty people here but no court or system of laws to try them and punish them.


Just digest these opening statements from a report in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal for a minute. "Power providers can reap rewards by supplying electricity to Texas customers, but they aren't required to do it and face no penalties for failing to deliver during a lengthy emergency."


And this: "A severe storm paralyzed almost every energy source, from power plants to wind turbines because their owners hadn't made the investments needed to produce electricity in subfreezing temperatures."


And this: “While power providers collectively failed, the companies themselves didn't break any rules. Texas officials don’t require plant owners to prepare for the worst by spending extra money to ensure they can continue operating through severe cold or heat.” (my added emphasis)


What madness is this?  It’s the free market at its freest that’s what it is. What is happening in Texas and all those other catastrophe’s is capitalism functioning normally, it is not a “fundamental flaw” as the Wall Street Journal claims. The same authors of the quotes above describe the Texas electricity market as “freewheeling” so it’s not like it’s a secret and we all know what freewheeling, means, a disregard for rules, or conventions a totally unconstrained or uninhibited situation, (I checked).


More than any other country, we in the US have a freewheeling health care system, a freewheeling housing system, transportation system, education system and so on. When the US mass media talks of freedom, it is referring to freedom for capital, not labor. It's the freedom to deny you the right of food or housing if you can't pay for it.


Now I’m no supporter of the Stalinist clique that govern China and refer to themselves as the “communist party”, poor old Marx would be turning in his grave. But I have to say, if the culprits responsible for the Texas disaster were managers of the Chinese energy industry, they would execute them. Now I’m not suggesting that, though here in the US, especially Texas, executions are quite popular. But it’s generally working class people, poor people and disproportionally Black America as they are a considerable portion of those two categories.


Laws are made by people, and the people that make them, in our case legislators in two parties that represent the interests of capital and the owners of it, make sure they don’t infringe on the rights of these owners to accumulate capital, spend it how they like and where they like. Obstacles to profit making and capital accumulation (wealth) like unions, workplace safety, decent public services and so on, are an infringement of these rights and freedoms. The rule of law is the legislation that defends those who rule.

If the people who write laws include plenty of “don’t require” clauses in them, no one can be responsible for breaking those laws. I didn’t have a “not required to dig a hole” clause in the work rules when I was a backhoe operator for a utility. The truck driver didn’t have a “not required to take the spoils to the dump” clause either. What about a “Not required to start work on time” clause in the rules; that’s a nice idea.


And the finale. The authors describe the intellectual legitimacy for this set up, “The high prices operators can reap from such periods of peak demand were supposed to be incentive enough for them to invest in safeguarding their equipment from severe weather.”


Yes, any advances working people, poor people, the displaced and exploited of this world have made have come about through the sensibility, kindness and generosity of those at the top.


The only way one could believe that is by never reading a history book, and not the one’s they hand out at school either.


Similar read on the situation in Texas.

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