BAILOUT WATCH: Keeping an eye on the energy industry and the politicians
Bailout Watch #47 – May 29, 2001
THEM. "They…" Cheney keeps saying. "They had a problem… They’ve bankrupted the biggest utility." President GWB, Jr., and Associate Pres. Cheney have been wagging their fingers at California for the last couple of weeks. Like deregulation was some strange concept "we" came up with and "they" had nothing to do with! Hold onto your boots there, cowboy. Deregulation, which is what got us into the current debacle, is Bush-Cheney policy. It’s also off-the-shelf policy of the Republican Party (as well as the Clinton Democratic Party) and the innumerable ideological think tanks sponsored by the energy industry. It’s still Pete Wilson’s policy, or so he squeaks proudly from his Beverly Hills investment firm, and it’s definitely the policy of Ken Lay, Enron CEO, de facto member of the Bush White House, and leader of the Texas energy cartel that got us here by signing off on California’s deregulation law in 1996. The SF Chronicle reports that Lay held a get-together for some CEOs, celebrities and politicians at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills last week, where he implored attendees to write a letter to the Governor to save deregulation. The foolish deregulation law and the mixed-up rules that control California’s energy system were developed by the same corporations, Wall Street firms and ideologues that now drive Cheney to tell us that conservation is little more than a "personal virtue" and that the solution to our deregulation problem is found partly in more deregulation, and partly in a national landmark in Alaska. The "THEM" that the Bush-Cheney team keeps referring to is a state of thirty-four million people, who have been swindled by the deregulation scheme. We have seen the enemy, and it is NOT:
US. California is on the brink of a brutal economic collapse, and Bush offers all of twenty minutes to the Governor. As bills begin to arrive next week, they will include the largest rate hike in California history. The people and businesses of California cannot survive the current rate increases, let alone the 40%-100% rate increases still expected. However, some lawmakers are pondering schemes to increase rates again to bail out Edison and coax PG&E out of bankruptcy. Of course, knowing that this would be political suicide, they will look to spread the costs out over a generation, so it becomes our children’s bailout. (They’ll be gone — working for Edison long, no doubt — long before the youngens can ever hold ’em accountable.) Fortunately, some legislators recognize the folly of a bailout (namely, it solves nothing and will lead to higher rates and will likely only forestall bankruptcy for a couple of months until the next round of energy gouging hits.) Hey you politicians. Save us. Save yourselves. No bailout. Then you can fight for US against THEM.
GOV. Davis: Whose side are you on? Governor Davis has been getting some political mileage out of Bush-Cheney’s misanthropy, but so far his policy is more for THEM than for US. In The People of California vs. The Energy Corporations of Texas, Governor Davis has sounded like a prosecutor, but acted like the defense attorney. Governor Davis: we need you with US because you are the only one in California with the constitutional powers to get to THEM.
525 Days Until November 5, 2002