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The Villages
Thursday, July 29, 2021

What happened in Texas and why?

To the Editor:

How is it that we can launch a helicopter on Mars but cannot keep the lights on in Texas? Answer: Scientists run the helicopter on Mars but Republicans run Texas.
Confession: That is not original to me. I don’t know who thought it up and put it on my Facebook page but I thought it priceless and very troubling. On these threads I see staunch Republicans making quips about the price of gas going up 40 cents in the last month and wanting to blame President Biden. Also, they think if Democrats in Congress spend money on emergency COVID-19 help to states and individuals, then it will trigger wild inflation due to mounting debt. And, it is a mantra of the GOP that it is necessary to do away with all government regulations in order to be “free.” Idaho is talking of seceding from the union and their legislature is passing numerous bills to refuse all government funding including emergency funds for “freedom from government control”.
Texas has talked of seceding from the union to be free of government control of everything in Texas. Texas’ electrical grid is separate from either the Eastern or Western grids in order to avoid government regulations. In 2011, Texas had extremely cold weather and a partial shutdown of its grid. Following that in explaining how it happened, they were told it would happen again if they did not weatherize their system to protect against damage in extreme cold. They made a decision not to weatherize to save costs. The Texas system is owned privately so any money saved was profit to the owners. The private company could not be required to do it because it is independent of government regulation. And, the system has now failed with disastrous results. Children froze to death. Elderly people froze to death – over 20 in all at last count and over a hundred treated for hypothermia. People ran water so their pipes would not freeze and now there is a water shortage statewide. And, the final insult to injury, because it is an unregulated system subject to “market pricing” and with electrical power scarce, the price rose to thousands of dollars per k/w hour and average middle class households accustomed to electric bills of $150-200 are receiving electric bills of $3,000. This is unregulated market pricing of electricity; unbridled capitalism at work. Who benefits? The wealthy owner of the electric company. Who is harmed? Average American families.
It has been continually amazing to me that wealthy Republicans, big business executives with multi-million dollar annual salaries, and billionaires have been able, with the help of billionaire Rupert Murdoch’s Fox cable “news”, to convince average middle class Americans, living in homes that cost $300,000 or less that unbridled and unregulated capitalism and zero government regulation in some way benefitted them. Don’t get me wrong. I support capitalism. I own a small business and want low corporate taxes. However, unregulated capitalism is as wrong and maybe worse than unregulated socialism, in its ability to hurt American families. There is no such thing as “trickle down economics” that benefits the workers. Will Rogers first mentioned it as satire many years ago and it was used to describe Reagan’s approach to tax cuts for the rich would “trickle down”. What happens when the rich and big corporations get tax cuts or benefits? They don’t increase worker salaries or buy new equipment with it. They invest it, buy back their stock to raise profits, or give huge salary bonuses to corporate executives. This is what was done with Reagan’s tax cut and George W. Bush’s tax cut. In fact, GW Bush refused a second round of cuts after seeing executive salaries skyrocket after the first one. That is why middle class incomes have not grown in a decade relative to corporate profits or executive salaries. Yet, due to continual lies on radical-right media, middle class Republicans continue to fall for the ruse. They think it is vital to get rid of all government regulation, even regulations that protect clean air, clean water, and safe food. How does that benefit an average family? It certainly benefits the corporations that manufacture the food or pollute the atmosphere in higher profits. As just demonstrated in Texas, private utilities clearly cannot be depended upon to safeguard the public, while chasing higher profits.
I wish we could convince the average Republican that although too much government regulation can be bad, too little can cause untold death and destruction. There is a place for government and the fever of anti-government aggression and violence as seen on Jan. 6 in D.C. and the incredible suffering of the people of Texas due to anti-government sentiment there should be a wake-up call. As a previous writer said, “Stop the insanity!”

Wyman Jefferson
Village of Poinciana

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