Who Hijacked Our Country

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Pacific Gas & Electric — Nice Try, Cocksuckers

Of all the political races that captured the public’s attention yesterday, an initiative in California could have been the most disastrous. And it almost passed.

Corrupt politicians come and go. Bone-stupid simpleminded ballot measures last forever.

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is a huge utility monopoly with millions of California hostages customers. PG&E spent $46 million promoting Proposition 16 — the Taxpayers’ Right To Vote Act.

(Here are some more links.)

What a sweet innocent-sounding name. What could be more American than taxpayers having the right to vote? Oh wait, they already do.

If Proposition 16 had passed — and it only lost by five percentage points — it would have required a two-thirds vote before a municipality could switch from a private utility company (like, for instance, PG&E) to a city-operated utility.

If this corporate power grab had passed, it might have started a nationwide trend, like everything else that starts in California. Hopefully this twisted idea has been nipped in the bud by California’s voters.

PG&E has already defeated almost every California city’s attempt to operate their own utilities. They’ve got it down to a science: Spend millions of dollars on an advertising blitzkrieg extolling the virtues of the private sector — free enterprise! — versus those lazy inept nine-to-five government bureaucrats. Works every time. Or almost every time.

But apparently the playing field just wasn’t quite tilted and unlevel enough.

$46 million down the tubes. But that’s no problem; PG&E has millions of captive “customers” throughout California. Guess whose utility rates are about to go up and up and up.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting my little corner of the world.

What was really amazing was that 2 big corporately funded ballot measures were defeated in what was supposed to be a poorly turned out election that usually attracts the conservative senior voters more then anybody else. I can't wait to see the demographics on this one.

The article was right, people are mad at PG & E ducking out of it's obligations by declaring bankruptcy and emerging without a scratch (or any effect on the parent company). They got mad when before that PG & E downsized it's line staff telling us it wouldn't effect service then having to import from all over the US when the first rainstorms hit.

PG & E even welcomed the competition to some degree and was actually pushing to get some of the business - and then this.

Nobody really minded the voting part but I think the 2/3rds bit is what pissed off voters as we've learned from way back at prop 13 that a small group can hold up a 2/3rds, vote - hell it's why we can't pass a budget. Perhaps it's the signal of better times like going after prop 13.


June 9, 2010 at 7:51 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

What's amazing is all the dim wits who voted against their own interest to get PG&E's measure within 5 percentage points of winning. What was that P.T. Barnum said?

June 9, 2010 at 9:28 PM  
Anonymous Jolly Roger said...

We now know that the Klanbagger right wing is so marginalized in California that they can't even pull off one of their tricks in an off-year election.

That is a trend I welcome, when it goes nationwide.

June 10, 2010 at 1:34 AM  
Blogger Randal Graves said...

SWA, not that amazing. Republican pretzeldential candidates get millions of peon votes every four years. :)

June 10, 2010 at 8:10 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Erik: I first saw a news story about this a few months ago and I couldn't believe any company could try such a blatant power grab. And I had no idea it would actually come close to passing, no matter how much PG&E spent trying to dupe the public.

It was interesting that the measure got really trounced in areas that are serviced by PG&E. I wonder why.

SW: P.T. Barnum must be the idol of lots of CEOs and public relations departments.

JR: You're right, that's a very positive trend. Hope it spreads.

Randal: It's Americans' favorite pastime -- voting against their own interests.

June 10, 2010 at 11:18 AM  
Blogger TomCat said...

So glad that one went down, Tom.

June 10, 2010 at 1:01 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

TomCat: It's nice that once in awhile, voters don't get fooled by a multi-jillion dollar ad campaign.

June 10, 2010 at 1:11 PM  
Blogger Lew Scannon said...

It's always good news when voters do something sensible and greedy companies don't get everything they want.

June 10, 2010 at 2:09 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Lew: Yup, it's good news. Too bad it doesn't happen this way more often.

June 10, 2010 at 2:12 PM  

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