10:30 AM EDT, July 12, 2012
The extended power outages for Baltimore Gas and Electric customers are a symptom of the decline of this country. When I was growing up in the 1970s in Northern Virginia, we never lost power for a week. Not when we received two feet of snow. Not even during Tropical Storm Agnes. My neighborhood in Howard County has been without power for 13 days within the last year due to three separate storms. What's changed?
The change is that the focus of business has shifted. The only reason for BGE to exist now is to produce as much profit for it's parent corporation as possible. This profit is used to pay exorbitant salaries to the C level executives and large shareholders at the parent company, and to influence the government and the regulators to allow profits to be further maximized. It's a virtuous circle for the ruling class. Constellation had to pay Warren Buffet $1.3 billion to bail them out for energy market speculations. What in the world did that have to do with providing reliable power to my house? How many miles of power line could be buried with the money that instead was gifted to executives as part of the sale to Exelon?
The utility workers at BGE repairing the lines are working as hard as linemen did when I was young, but this emphasis on repair is focusing on the symptom instead of the cause. I would bet there was a higher ratio of linemen to miles of power lines at VEPCO decades ago than there is at BGE today. I bet there was more preventive maintenance and more capital investment, too. This isn't the case today. Constellation, now Exelon, needs to book every last cent of profit it can get. Otherwise, Mayo Shattuck and his ilk would have to get by on $2-$3 million a year instead of $10-$15 million.
This unrestrained greed is epidemic in industry after industry. It's capitalism at work, apologists exclaim. Well, I hope everyone affected, repeatedly, by these extended power outages enjoys the unregulated "capitalism" of the power industry. I hope you enjoy what the future holds for our children as 80 percent of the citizens of this country work harder, longer, for less money relative to inflation, year after year.
This country is slowly, but surely, turning into an oligarchy. It is sad to witness. It seems inevitable.
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