Republicans Offer Preview of Brutal Climate Policies in Texas

Yves here. Republicans are hewing to Lambert’s neoliberal playbook: “Die faster!” or the cleaned-up version, “If bad things happen, you are on your own.” What it striking is that they are being so open about it in the midst of crisis.

The flip side is the Democrats aren’t comporting themselves much better. I haven’t seen any Cabinet official in Texas. Only Friday, after Texas declared the power emergency to be over was Biden “set to declare” Texas a major disaster, and he might visit, per the BBC, “as long as his presence is not a burden on relief efforts.” Oh, come on. The President goes on his own airplane, with its own cars and entourage. He can bring his own food and water too if the local military base is running short because it’s providing assistance. The point is psychological: to show the locals they haven’t been forgotten, to thank heads of organizations doing relief work, and reassure local pols.

And while what AOC is doing is a nice gesture, the amount of money she’s raising is a full three orders of magnitude less than what is needed, maybe even four orders.

By Sonali Kolhatkar, the founder, host and executive producer of “Rising Up With Sonali,” a television and radio show that airs on Free Speech TV and Pacifica stations. She is a writing fellow for the Economy for All project at the Independent Media Institute. Produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute

As Texas battles a severe snowstorm and mass power outages this winter, Tim Boyd, the now-former Republican mayor of Colorado City, revealed his party’s plan for the deadly extreme temperatures linked to climate change. In a lengthy Facebook post that was deleted soon after it went viral, then-Mayor Boyd told his residents that they were entirely on their own as the brutal winter weather caused mayhem and deaths across the Lone Star state.

His honesty was like catching a glimpse of a rare animal in the wild. “Sink or swim[,] it’s your choice!” he wrote, without bothering to couch his words in euphemisms. Boyd added, “The City and County, along with power providers or any other service owes you NOTHING!” For such an exhortation to come from the elected leader of a city—a man literally chosen by his people to ensure that local government works for them—was shocking.

Just as they pay their mayor, Colorado City’s residents also pay authorities to provide them with basic necessities like electricity and water. But apparently, Boyd thought an expectation of services was out of line. He conjectured, “If you don’t have electricity you step up and come up with a game plan to keep your family warm and safe.” Many Texans have tried to do just that, running their car engine in their garage to warm their homes. So far in Harris County, there have been at least 50 cases of carbon monoxide poisoning and several people have died.

“If you have no water you deal without and think outside of the box to survive and supply water to your family,” posited Boyd, expecting Texans who were searching for ways to provide their own electricity to also deal with a lack of water as pipes froze in the plummeting temperatures.

Boyd’s diatribe veered into familiar Republican territory as he blamed residents for their own plight by saying, “If you are sitting at home in the cold because you have no power and are sitting there waiting for someone to come rescue you because your (sic) lazy [it] is [a] direct result of your raising.” It is a long-simmering idea among conservatives that Americans who depend on their government are simply lazy.

Generally, white conservatives have reserved the word “lazy” for people of color who are victims of systemic racial discrimination. Indeed, the weather-related blackouts in Texas impacted the residents of minority neighborhoods disproportionately. Boyd and those who share his views would likely assume this must have been a direct result of their laziness.

Hours after writing his screed, Boyd announced his resignation and apologized. But he qualified his apology by saying that he never meant to imply that the helpless elderly were the lazy ones—just everyone else. “I was only making the statement that those folks that are too lazy to get up and fend for themselves but are capable should not be dealt a handout,” he wrote in a manner that suggested he was “sorry, not sorry.”

Most Republicans are not as overt as Boyd in their faith in social Darwinism. Take Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who instead of openly blaming Texans for their own suffering instead decided to blame climate-mitigating policies and renewable energy programs like wind power. Speaking on Fox News, Abbott railed against the “Green New Deal,” claiming that a reliance on wind turbines was disastrous because the state’s wind-generated power “thrust Texas into a situation where it was lacking power on a statewide basis.” For good measure, he added, “It just shows that fossil fuel is necessary.”

The conservative Wall Street Journal, which has long been hostile to tackling climate change through renewable energy, repeated this claim in an editorial blaming “stricter emissions regulation” and the loss of coal-powered plants for widespread misery in the snow-blanketed South.

In fact, millions of Texans are going without power because of the Republican emphasis on cheap power over reliable power. Seeing electricity generation as a profit-making enterprise rather than the fulfillment of a public need, GOP policies in Texas have made the state vulnerable to such mass outages. Moreover, plenty of wintry areas successfully run wind turbines when properly prepared to do so. And, Abbott did not see fit to point out that harsh winter temperatures lead to frozen natural gas pipelines—the real culprit in the outages.

Even as a majority of Texans now believe that climate change is really happening, their governor in late January vowed to “protect the oil and gas industry from any type of hostile attack from Washington.” Apparently protecting Texans from the ravages of the fossil fuel industry is not in his purview. This is hardly surprising given how much fossil fuel industry contributions have ensured Abbott’s loyalty to oil and gas interests.

The conservative mindset can be counted on to prioritize private interests over public ones. In a Republican utopia, the rich are noble and deserving of basic necessities, comforts, and life itself. If they have rigged the system to benefit themselves, it means they are smart, not conniving. In the future that Republicans promise, “Only the strong will survive and the weak will parish (sic),” as per Boyd’s post. In other words, our lives are expendable, and if we die, it is because we deserve it and were simply not smart enough to survive.

This was utterly predictable. Republicans have used this same approach on health care—think of all the Republican governors who backed lawsuits against the Affordable Care Act and opted their states out of the federal government’s Medicaid program even though a majority of Americans support Obamacare. Even more Americans support the government nationalizing health care, but Republicans warn that if the program is expanded from Medicare for those over 65 to all Americans, it will suddenly become “socialism” and thus “evil.” Their solution for health care is the status quo of a deregulated “Wild West” private insurance market.

Republicans have offered a similar approach to the coronavirus pandemic where any public safety standards set by the government are anathema to “personal freedoms,” even though a majority of Americans support such precautions. It is also how Republicans have approached poverty and rising inequality: by opposing a federal government increase to the minimum wage even though most Americans want a floor of $15 an hour.

Interestingly, Republicans believe strongly in the idea of “big government” when it comes to regulating their pet social issues such as harsh anti-immigrant measures and attacks on abortion. (Meanwhile, most Americanssupport a pathway to legalization for the undocumented and a majority supports reproductive choice.)

As Americans are subject to the brutal impacts of inevitable climate change, we face a clear choice: strong government intervention to save our lives, or a “survival of the fittest” dystopia that contemporary conservatism promises. The Texas debacle is a preview of what is to come if the free-marketeers have their way while the climate changes. The nation’s conservative party went from insisting that climate change does not exist (it is a “hoax!”) to shrugging their shoulders and telling us, as Boyd did, that we’re on our own when the consequences hit.

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78 comments

  1. Taurus

    infrastructure is hard work and requires long term planning and multi-year execution and funding. There is steady profit in it for the capital side but Bumble IPO it ain’t. There is no app for it and in the current climate of capital allocation, who can wait until 35 to be rich?

    In California – a one-party state for all practical purposes – the transmission lines are in such sorry state that in the fall they have rolling blackouts for fear of strong winds causing fires. The argument is the same everywhere – “ we cannot afford to fix it”. Admittedly, in Texas that argument is supplemented with a strong dose of “and even if we could afford it, it would be communism and that is just wrong”.

    Energy Infrastructure needs to be managed outside the market. And while it may be possible in the wake of the Texas debacle to get some money for infrastructure, restructuring the utilities away from the market is in the realm of fantasy.

    So we are doomed to limp along and patch things up as disasters pile up.

    Reply
    1. Synoia

      CA has grid failures because the Federal Government, which owns the a huge majority of the forests, will not practice sensible forest management, small scale controlled burns, and PGand E, a large public company performs poor maintenance on their power lines.

      It is not the CA Government which has the responsibility for transmission lines. It is because the focus of business is on profit, at the expense of service.

      Reply
      1. lordkoos

        Which simply goes to show that it doesn’t matter which party is nominally in control of a state government if it is big capital who actually holds the power.

        Reply
      2. John Wright

        CA government DOES have the Public Utilities Commission that is supposed to regulate utilities.

        Their website mentions “oversight”

        From https://www.cpuc.ca.gov/infrastructure/

        “The California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) infrastructure related work includes oversight of utility electric and gas infrastructure.”

        And the October 2017 fire that burned down my Northern California home was started and burned through private land, so one cannot suggest sensible forest management by the Feds would have helped save the 5000 dwellings that burned

        One can wonder what “sensible forest management” is when the issue is further complicated by about 147 million dead trees in CA due to various reasons (drought, insects).

        https://mashable.com/article/california-tree-die-off-climate-change/

        The state government SHOULD be inspecting and verifying transmission lines are acceptable.

        One can suggest this is a role the state does not want because it has little political upside and may irritate politically connected donors, the real estate industry and homeowners (who lose their landscape).

        Reply
        1. JBird4049

          To be fair, that part of California’s government, the CPUC and its previous, ancestral organizations have always been corrupt and almost always incompetent since there was electric power. The only change is the increasing levels of corruption and incompetence as before the past twenty years killing people was seen as something to be prevented and so it was.

          Reply
      3. heresy101

        Taurus is right about how CA manages the lines (not just that murderer PG&E). CAISO has been following “the market” in what lines are operated and how costs of electricity is developed for almost two decades.

        Fifteen years ago, a few employees of SMUD, Turlock Irrigation District, Merced Irrigation District, and me from a small Bay Area municipal electric district were attending a class on how CAISO operated the grid, then and now. We all told them they were crazy because they have a neoliberal concept called Congestion Revenue Rights (CRRs).
        “Congestion revenue rights Congestion revenue rights (CRR) are financial instruments, made available through the CRR allocation, CRR auction and Secondary Registration System, that enable CRR holders to manage variability in congestion costs based on locational marginal pricing. CRRs are acquired primarily, although not solely, for the purpose of offsetting integrated forward market congestion costs that occur in the day-ahead market.”

        We argued that the CRR funds shouldn’t go to the speculator but be put into a separate fund for upgrading the line(s) so there would be no congestion in the future.

        CAISO has many other market based ways of “managing” the grid.

        Reply
      4. Sierra7

        In my part of the CA Sierras Cal-Fire has “controlled burns” all the time.
        And, it has been most demonstrably exhibited, one of the major CA energy suppliers, PG&E has not maintained it’s system to keep up with the changing times. Too much of it’s ratepayers’ monies have gone not to proper upgrades and maintenance but to corporate uses, sometimes generating regulatory fines which the utility will gladly pay because it is less than what they would have to pay for modernizing their systems. “Profit and Greed” continue to overwhelm the legitimate needs of a progressive society.

        Reply
  2. Wilbur Nelson

    The mayor apologized — might be better to let it go at that. Also, it would be wise to remember this is an outlier event, and that what happened (not hardening either natty or wind) isn’t habit-forming. The real measure of the character of the political actors will be how this is handled.
    As a “microcosm” ;-) Texas’ grid and the future (electric cars and that scaled load) would seem to point to a wind/natty tag team long into the future.

    Reply
    1. Georgia Gearey

      Except that this freeze is not an outlier event. The records show that Texas is a state which suffers extremes of all kinds of weather.

      this isn’t an unprecedented cold. We’ve seen it before. But as my colleague Judah Cohen has often talked about, these things used to happen less frequently. But it seems that they’re happening yearly now, which is something we’re keeping an eye on.” University of Georgia Director of Atmospheric Sciences

      Reply
      1. Jeff

        Dallas just recorded their 2nd coldest day on record. That is an outlier.

        Your asking the wrong question. The question is how should Texas prepare for severe weather as it’s not just a small inconvenience.

        Reply
        1. The Historian

          You are letting yourself be distracted. It isn’t that Dallas had the 2nd coldest day on record – it is that Dallas has had enough cold days that the grid components should have been weatherized, but they weren’t, because, you know, profits.

          Reply
        2. FluffytheObeseCat

          It’s not enough of an outlier to justify the utter lack of weatherization of infrastructure in Texas. Gas pipelines do not inevitably fail when temperatures drop below 0F. The functionality of the electric and natural gas grids in places like North Dakota and Alberta make that stunningly obvious.

          Reply
          1. Barking Cat

            The north/south distance between Fargo, ND, and Houston is about 1200 miles. While Arctic blasts occasionally hit North Texas (Fort Worth-Dallas-Plano) for a day or two, they rarely cover the entire state. Trust me, this was an unusual winter event.

            Reply
            1. Tom Bradford

              Trust me, this was an unusual winter event.”

              Unusual perhaps. Unimaginable, no. So do you plan your life entirely around what ‘s usual or make provision for what might happen?

              As I pointed out yesterday New Zealand’s Alpine Fault breaks causing a >7.0 magnitude earthquake affecting much of the country every 291 years on average. But it’s been as little as 150 years and as long as 360 years between breaks. So in terms of human lifetimes it’s a very unusual event – you’re far more likely not to experience one than be in one. But you’d be a fool for not providing for the possibility.

              Reply
              1. wilroncanada

                Tom
                The same as we do on the West Coast of North America. Individually, many of us keep emergency kits. Most municipalities have warning systems. Provincial building codes demand “hardened” builds for earthquakes and winter storms.

                Reply
              2. Wukchumni

                Everybody knows the San Andreas fault (among many others) is fixing to do a number on LA/SF, and it’d be dead easy to blame the 20 million who made no preparations for the possibility, and they’d suffer similarly to Texans: iffy water, food & transportation for some time, with everybody wanting to get their houses fixed and chimneys reattached as soon as possible, even though it’d be a long time in help coming, just like getting your busted plumbing fixed in the Loan Star State right now, good luck with all that.

                The once every 200 year massive flood would also have major ramifications as well, but who prepares for that?

                Reply
                1. JBird4049

                  Even if everyone was prepared, 20 million people without electricity and running water and with breaks in all the major freeways, railroads, and ports are going to cause some problems.

                  The only infrastructure that I believe might be ready are the major bridges and overpasses because of all the upgrading after the Loma Prieta Earthquake. That only took over two decades to do.

                  California has spent vast amount of planning, time, and money for most of a century and for events that roughly come around every 20, 30, or even 50 years because the cost of not doing so is so great.

                  Reply
            2. Aumua

              Of course it was unusual weather, but what are you saying? That we shouldn’t worry cause it’s not going to happen again, or not for a long time again? Is that a hill that you really want to try and defend?

              And in case you haven’t noticed, there seems to be a lot of unusual weather going around lately.

              Reply
            3. The Rev Kev

              ‘Trust me, this was an unusual winter event’

              By the same logic, you would never insure your house or car because having an accident happen would rate as an ‘unusual event’.

              Reply
              1. Pat

                Reminds me.of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s response when questioned about Texas doing nothing about the problems even though they were warned ten years ago about the weaknesses in their system. He essentially said we didn’t have any problems so why are you questioning our lack of action.

                Reply
    2. The Historian

      I think the ‘real measure of the character of the political actors’ is how they maneuvered Texas into this situation. None of this had to happen. People are dying in Texas simply because of the ideology of the Texas lawmakers, nothing else!

      The Northern states have storms like Texas suffered all winter long, yet their power stays on. Ever consider why? And it isn’t like storms are all that rare in Texas. As George Cleary stated, “this freeze is not an outlier event”.

      https://www.weather.gov/fwd/dsnows

      https://spacecityweather.com/looking-back-at-some-previous-historic-houston-cold-snaps/

      https://www.khou.com/article/weather/by-the-numbers-houstons-history-of-snow/285-d9b65f7a-f789-42f0-9ca8-50ff6ce16455

      Reply
    3. lordkoos

      Haven’t you noticed that what were once weather “outliers” such as 100-year storms are now happening every few years? Climate change means there is an increasing amount of extreme weather events.

      Reply
    4. Richard Thompson

      I live in rural northern Ca. near both the Oroville dam and the fire in Paradise Ca. The 1986 flood was called an outlier. The 1997 flood which nearly went over the dam was called a “ hundred year flood”. The 2017 crumbling of the dam spillway due to the need to release huge amounts of water suddenly was called an outlier event by the DWR. Their are two problems with the water delivery systems in Ca. One is the uncertainty of the weather due to climate change. We experience droughts for a couple of years and then rapid meltdowns of the snowpack in the Sierras which are not anticipated. The other culprit is the State Water Contractors (SWR). These are private companies which buy water very cheaply and sell it at inflated prices ( 20 times what they pay for it). They are only gatekeepers, like toll road operators. They are supposed to pay for the maintenance and safety of the water delivery system and they don’t. Just as in Texas, FERC identified the safety problems years ago and the DWR said they were working on it although they did next to nothing because they are controlled by the SWC.

      Then we have the fire problem. The Tubbs fire,the Glass fire ,the Wall fire and the deadly Camp fire(Paradise,Ca.) were all called outliers or hundred year fires by conservative politicians and blamed on either Brown or Newsom. Once again the real culprit is climate change. NASA has determined that over the years the water content of forest vegetation has declined to 70% of normal due to average temperature increases. The warming desert sands of Nevada heat up the air and create unprecedented winds which blow into Northern Ca. acting like a blowtorch. The Feds own 58% of the forested land here. Private interests ,mainly logging companies, own and control 39%. The state of California has 3%. Add to this private developers who built housing in the middle of forested lands and on flood plains and…you have a real problem. The soon-to-be outliers here are those who deny the science of climate change. Their stance can only go on for so much longer. I hope it’s not too late.

      Reply
  3. PlutoniumKun

    This is one of my huge worries about climate change, with the response to Covid confirming my worst fears. The ‘optimists’ with climate change have always pointed out to possible benefits like the potential expanse of agriculture into the vast permafrost areas of the north, but for this to work for everyones benefit we need both national and international scale co-operation at a significant scale. But so far, it seems that the winners or at least non-losers from change are likely to react defensively out of fear. A mix of neoliberal mindset, nationalism and localism could mix into a very toxic and dangerous brew.

    Reply
    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      PlutoniumKun: The article that Naked Capitalism posted a few days back about how the Gaia hypothesis is agnotology is revealing if applied to what you just wrote. The Gaia hypothesis leads to ideas like that the Northwest / Arctic shipping passage that just opened will somehow save energy rather than destroy the Arctic Ocean. Likewise, the idea that agriculture will expand northwards into the Hudson Bay (or northern Norway, for that matter) is incorrect: The soil in subarctic and arctic regions is poor. There’s a reason why the enormous agricultural region stretching from Ohio to Colorado exists: The soil was created by forests and prairies (many now destroyed). You’re not going to find that kind of soil in northern Ontario.

      So Gaia turns out not to be self-correcting.

      Such assertions may be fantasies, and what we are seeing is Texas, Texas, Texas, and more Covid-like outbreaks. The toxic potion has already been brewed.

      Reply
      1. Massinissa

        We’re going to lose the coral around 2050. Over half the coral *has already bleached* in the last few decades and is happening at an accelerating rate. Once the coral is gone, coastal fish, which are already heavily overfished, with the fishing industry planning to harvest more fish per year in 2050 than they do now despite fisheries having already been declining for decades with the ocean having only half the fish there were in 1970, are going to collapse at an even greater scale. Overfishing + marine habitat collapse due to ocean acidification is going to be an absolute complete disaster.

        Lets see Gaia recover from THAT… We know from historical geology that there have been entire geological periods without reefs (For example, the Triassic and Jurassic had reefs but they died off at the beginning of the Cretaceous and didn’t come back until after the Dinosaurs had been wiped out at the end of the Cretaceous), and it always takes tens of millions of years for them to come back. They ain’t gonna be coming back for the rest of the existence of humanity. Humans have been around 200k years. We won’t be around in 20 million years. Marine life as we know it today won’t be the same at the turn of the century. No reefs and eviscerated fisheries populations all over the globe. Oh yeah and have I mentioned that phytoplankton worldwide have been shrinking due to ocean acidification? Phytoplankton collect carbon and then sink to the seafloor, partially offsetting climate change. They’re going to be shrinking about 35-80% in the next 30 or 40 years or so, which means less carbon going to the seafloor when they sink by about 35-80%. Forget declining species diversity from coral reef death, *this would cause chemical changes to the ocean*.

        And all of this is JUST THE OCEAN. We aren’t even taking into account terrestrial life, or weather, or anything like that doesn’t directly effect the ocean in my analysis above. Similar things are happening at every level of the biosphere you can think of. I’m at the point where I think “Everything will be fine if climate change continues, we and the world will just adapt”-ists are more threatening than outright “climate denial”-ists.

        People didn’t understand the concept of exponential growth when Covid hit. Fortunately its at least partially leveled off, after exponentially increasing for half a year. But climate change isn’t going to level off, and people still won’t understand how exponential growth works until its already too late. I don’t know what to do.

        Reply
        1. Ed Miller

          If it isn’t obvious yet, the concept that Gaia will recover is ultimately based on the elimination of billions of humans. The planet needs to rid itself of the plague of humanity which has overrun the planet like a plague of locusts. Sorry for the dark vision, but I can see it coming.

          It’s either my dark personality or my clarity in seeing facts as opposed to narratives. Your choice.

          I am old enough to realize that I won’t see this disaster in full force in my lifetime, but my children might. I almost feel blessed that we have no grandchildren, nor prospects thereof.

          Reply
          1. Massinissa

            “If it isn’t obvious yet, the concept that Gaia will recover is ultimately based on the elimination of billions of humans.”

            Not just that: It would, uh, have to be today, if by ‘recover’ we mean something like 1800 or even 1900. Which isn’t going to happen. We’re probably at least a decade away from a major nuclear war, and nuclear winters aren’t as globally damaging than people think it is anyway. The planet *won’t* recover on any human timescale. It will recover eventually… In a few million years. The anthropocene probably can’t be much worse than the Permian Extinction event where 90% of marine species and 70% of terrestrial species were wiped out. But it won’t be much better, and it took millions of years to recover from that, and it will take millions of years to recover from the anthropocene if it continues down the predicted path that everyone secretly knows we won’t be able to stop.

            I’m as much of a climate doomer than you are. Anyone who believes otherwise is either not paying attention to the science, not paying attention to economics, or both. Usually both.

            NC is such a pleasant retreat from much of the internet, quite frankly.

            Reply
  4. Robert Hahl

    There is a line to be drawn here somewhere. Once in the early 80’s I took an evening bus from Boston to NYC while expecting serious snow. I wore good boots. The snow came a few hours later, and eventually stopped all traffic right on the highway. The bus idled all night. At dawn there were two-foot drifts, and some people spoke about walking out, we being just inside the Bronx line; but a lot of people said help must be on the way and would come soon, which was obviously preposterous. I think what people expect from emergency responders can easily be unrealistic.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Good for you, and good for your good boots. The people of Texas are completely unrealistic to expect food and fresh water from emergency responders, just as they are completely unrealistic to expect reliable electric power or reliable gas delivery from a utility company, or help from anywhere beyond their own good boots and boot straps.

      Reply
    2. Aumua

      As we can see NC, the attitude of the Texas mayor is not an isolated thing, but is the bedrock of conservative thinking. I mean my own mother, who is an otherwise warm and caring person and is far from some right wing nutjob, firmly believes that in essence poverty is the fault of the poor. It’s a very common idea, especially among people who came of age in another era, one of prosperity. Taken to its logical conclusions you get mayor Tim.

      Reply
  5. grumbles

    I don’t get complaining that Biden is failing to make the Texas disaster about himself. Do people really miss Donnie’s behavior? It isn’t about Biden – Texas has problems the Feds can’t fix.

    For starters, it requires a regime change before it can start working towards energy-competency. And after the political will is found, it will cost a lot of money, piss off a lot of local bigwigs, and take several years of work. I doubt the grid will be stable before 2030. Which means it will contract as people make their own arrangements.

    Reply
    1. jhallc

      I don’t think anyone expects that the feds can just fix this. His presence might not do much, but depending upon how he goes about it, it says something. What we should expect is a president that shows leadership and can provide some much needed hope and yes, eventually change. Sadly we’ve had none of that for some time.

      Reply
  6. timbers

    Someone made a comment over at WS that all Texas needs to do to address this crisis and also just about anything and everything else it wants…

    …is to incorporate and borrow endless trillions from the Fed at zero interest rates. Just like Wall Street and corporations do. Maybe Jerome Powell will do them a solid and set up a SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle) and gobble up their bonds and debt issuance.

    Government funding (via endless free debt) is increasingly no longer handled by elected officials and voters in this country. It’s done by Wall Street tycoons and their representatives at the Fed and dispersed based mostly on the trickle down principle.

    Corporations and corporate organs – not governments – are now the true representative of The People. Or least of those who control the corporations. Governments are now obsolete.

    Reply
  7. We are doomed

    Yet another article of division that cannot stay on point. Neoliberal Republicans need to be held accountable for the policies that strip the society of wealth by stripping costs from any public system of value. However, the same old tired talking points about systemic racism, reproductive rights and immigration are tossed in. What in the heck does reproductive rights have to do with freezing pipes? Our scum media needs to focus on the true issue, corruption of both parties that only serve the alter of money.

    Reply
    1. lordkoos

      I see your point regarding the media but if you don’t happen to be white, systemic racism is a huge deal and hardly a “tired talking point”, even if you happen to be tired of hearing about it.

      Reply
      1. Mary

        So, almost three generations of of civil rights laws, economic and social reform, preferential hiring etc, have not corrected that? Maybe it’s time to give it up then?
        Is that what you are saying? Or, is it epigenetic?

        Reply
        1. Aumua

          Yes, only through sustained struggle have any gains been made against systemic oppression of all kinds. And no, the problem is not fixed yet, and the struggle is not over.

          Reply
            1. JBird4049

              While true racism continues to have great support if for no other reason that to turn people into profitably disposable assets. Think of the neoliberal Democratic regime’s creation of Clinton’s Disposables in order to enrich the elites and their persistence in blaming the poor, those people with the least amount of resources or influence for their outsider imposed impoverishment. The same thing is true of Blacks with racism being one of the tools used for their dehumanization.

              Reply
  8. RODGER MALCOLM MITCHELL

    What Texas really needs is ex-President Trump tossing rolls of paper towels to the citizens. That worked in Puerto Rico, didn’t it?

    By the way, this is the same GOP Texas that refused to accept millions from the federal government, so they could avoid accepting Obamacare. It would have meant doing something good for the poor, which the GOP avoids at all costs.

    Reply
  9. Georgia Gearey

    Reading around the subject, it’s clear that Texas has not been “fixing the roof while the sun shines”. Windmills not winterised, gas power generation not winterised either – this is not an issue of renewables versus big oil, but good housekeeping and preparedness.
    https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/539300-five-things-to-know-about-texass-electric-grid
    “This type of event is actually a routine event every year in those parts of the country,” Rai said, referring to the Northeast and Midwest. “It’s totally possible to maintain operation of a grid at a very large scale.”

    Reply
    1. Jeff

      Yeah, this is my read as well. Utilities not held accountable for worst case scenario preparations. We’ve seen the same thing in California with SCE’s lines not being maintained and starting massive fires.

      Why aren’t federal agencies holding state agencies and local leaders accountable? Probably for the same reason the voters aren’t doing it either. Not enough pain begging felt.

      Reply
      1. John Zelnicker

        @Jeff
        February 20, 2021 at 11:03 am
        ——-

        In Texas, in regard to the electric grid, the federal government has no jurisdiction since the Republicans decided many years ago not to connect to the other two girds in the US. With a grid contained within the state and no interstate connection, the feds are effectively kept out. Giving a one-finger salute to the federal government was more important than planning for the safety and reliability of the power generation industry.

        I think most of the voters are feeling enough pain, but they have very little actual power. Whether red or blue, the political parties are putting up candidates who toe the neoliberal line. The pain needs to be felt by the PMC and the wealthy. They’re the ones who have the actual power to make changes.

        Reply
  10. The Rev Kev

    I was going to make a comment that even if old Joe was not up to goodwill trip down to Texas, that he could have sent Kamala on Air Force One instead as I have not heard much about her since the election. But then I began to wonder if that was not on the cards as people might start looking to her for leadership rather than old Joe. Even if Joe is not thinking along these lines, I bet that his handlers are.

    Reply
    1. The Historian

      Oh, I think Uncle Joe is playing ‘smart politics’ by staying away for this long. Why interfere when your opponents are destroying themselves? Hasn’t that been his playbook all along? Surely you don’t think he’s a politician that cares about people and what they are suffering do you? That would make him extremely rare in DC! And besides, he doesn’t want to bring attention to any federal failures during this crisis, like why the late emergency declaration?

      Reply
    2. SteveD

      What’s telling is that Team Biden doesn’t see this as an opportunity to stump up support for a massive infrastructure renewal program. Just in case you were wondering whether they placed any value on such a thing.

      Reply
      1. Ping

        I’m wondering if the touted massive infrastructure renewal program involves privatization of utilities and services. This situation does not reflect well on privatization.

        Reply
    3. lordkoos

      I wondered about that also. It seems like a no-brainer that Harris could show up for PR purposes, at least for a typical photo-op of sleeves rolled up ladling out soup or something.

      Reply
    4. Aumua

      Well lets not forget that it was in Texas that the Biden campaign was harassed on the highways by packs of roving Trumpian trucks. Maybe there’s a little bit of retaliation going on there. I wouldn’t put that level of pettiness past them.

      Reply
    5. Calypso Facto

      Rev, Kamala is far too busy working her contacts list to get plum positions for her family members and professional courtiers to make a visit to deepest red deplorastan. Be serious, she has priorities!

      Reply
  11. DJG, Reality Czar

    Have we collectively forgotten already?

    From the post: “In fact, millions of Texans are going without power because of the Republican emphasis on cheap power over reliable power.”

    No one recalls the famous Obama video in which he congratulates himself for providing cheap fossil fuels and gorging on fracking?

    The post suffers from partisanship, which is not the answer to the problems of Texas.

    As your reality czar, I’m going to assert that I am not living in a different universe. The indifference to climate change comes from both parties. It’s just that Democrats serve vegan burgers at their soft climate-deterioration-denial conferences.

    Reply
    1. Massinissa

      Look DJG, we’ve both been around here for enough years to have realized most of us here know that things like this are national bipartisan issues. Republicans were mentioned because we’re talking about Texas and its been a one party state for at least 25 years now. Look at, for example, the first comment on this article by Taurus on this article about Dem controlled California having relatively similar infrastructure problems.

      I’m getting a little tired of comments that are essentially “Other party bad too!”, as if that has to be mentioned in an addendum following every single article that is linked to here. Even if the author doesn’t get that most of us here do. Yes, the indifference to climate change is from both parties. No, that doesn’t mean we can’t do state based analysis of the problems regarding electorally noncompetitive states.

      Anyway have a good day DJG, sorry if this sounded overly hostile. I think you’ve been around here longer than I have, or at least as long as I have, and i’ve been commenting here for close to a decade.

      Reply
      1. Dirk77

        I have found it helpful to regard our time as the postpartisan era. Now, politics is divided between those who allow only small dollar donations and those who do not. The latter are the intrinsically corrupt and don’t represent you, unless you happen to be a big dollar donor. In this way, supposed ideological differences between small money office holders is secondary. Likewise between the intrinsically corrupt. I do not mean that a small money office holder can’t be corrupt, I mean accepting only small money is necessary but not sufficient for them not to be.

        Reply
  12. Pookah Harvey

    The cost due to this weather event is considered as just another externality cost to the corporations. They expect society to pay the price so they can keep their profit margins. Winterizing power systems is an unneeded expense if they have no responsibility except to provide the cheapest product. Since the Texas power system is a free trade market where prices depend on supply and demand some customers have seen their power bills in the thousands of dollars.
    Some Texans’ electricity bills skyrocket as high as $17,000 during winter storm

    Reply
  13. Bill Smith

    At some point we will see the actual amount of energy that was produced in Texas over the last week, by source? And be able to compare the numbers ourselves to last month, last year?

    Reply
  14. Big Nose

    How does one align private profit with public purpose.

    Policy votes by the people within Texas that banish profit until this is fixed.

    Reply
  15. Jeremy Grimm

    Much sometimes most infrastructure in the u.s. is old and reaching or beyond its design life. Little has been maintained and much of the maintenance that has been done is short-term, stop-gap maintenance with expected lifetimes like those of the shoddy pothole-fillings on our roads or the soon to weather Macadam coating the repaired’ roads. The Texas utilities disaster is another dead canary warning of troubles ahead for all of us. Neoliberal wealth extraction from the Economy of the u.s. is nearing completion as monopoly and monopsony toll booths go up. Neoliberal wealth extraction from the Government coffers continues at astronomic levels while millions are without work, without access to medical care, without housing, without food. The ‘new’ Government administration busies itself crafting a cruel caricature of effective Government.

    Reply
    1. Massinissa

      “Much sometimes most infrastructure in the u.s. is old and reaching or beyond its design life. ”

      As an example, I think there was an NC article or link a few months ago that involved Americas Nuclear power plants: They were intended to be decommissioned at around 40 years old. Now they’re close to being centenarians. They’re trying to retrofit them to last longer, but there’s only so much that kind of treatment can do.

      Reply
  16. Calypso Facto

    Even as a majority of Texans now believe that climate change is really happening, their governor in late January vowed to “protect the oil and gas industry from any type of hostile attack from Washington.” Apparently protecting Texans from the ravages of the fossil fuel industry is not in his purview. This is hardly surprising given how much fossil fuel industry contributions have ensured Abbott’s loyalty to oil and gas interests.

    I am so sick of the take that Texas got what they voted for, maybe they’ll change their minds and do as some other group of betters/outsiders wishes! This section from the above hits close to the root of the issue here, which is that Texas (and the rest of the Greater Texas Co-prosperity Sphere, OK and southern KS) is a single-party state which is fully bought for, paid, and controlled by the prevailing power, the energy corporations. Texas is an energy colony, it is not governed in the interests of the people, our input mean sweet fa to these cheap scum who allowed themselves to be coopted because it was more personally profitable for them than to fix the problems for us.

    The bootstraps/prepper argument sounds insane to people who have functioning governing structures for their actual people but it is not in Texas where as you can see the people are an afterthought to the corporate profits to be made. Yes, I agree it should not be necessary to have to do this. Yelling at people freezing/starving/dehydrating to death to vote differently is not going to solve the problem but they’re not going to listen to anything you have to suggest in the future.

    Reply
    1. David

      ….fully bought for, paid, and controlled by the prevailing power
      …. it is not governed in the interests of the people, our input mean sweet fa to these cheap scum who allowed themselves to be coopted because it was more personally profitable for them than to fix the problems for us.
      …..you can see the people are an afterthought to the corporate profits to be made

      Couldn’t you point the finger at nearly every governmental body in the US and say the same? This isn’t a Texas only system of rule.

      Reply
      1. Calypso Facto

        Yes, possibly, although I think Texas has the fatal combination of 0% corporate tax rate and a very powerful and unified oil/gas industry + completely absent opposition party. Other states have fewer or less valuable resources, less unified corporations, or the semblance of an opposition, giving some ameliorating effects to the free market frenzy in their own areas. In general though yes I think I’d agree that as Texas goes, so the rest of the country.

        Reply
        1. David

          ….completely absent opposition party

          I’m too lazy this morning to do the research required, but are you aware of other states in the union with single party majority rule in both houses who appoint opposition party members to chair committees? Its a feature in Texas, not a bug. Although a number of Republicans have pushed against it for years.

          Reply
  17. GlassHammer

    Somewhere in the current zeitgeist is a discussion on how we think of, use, and maintain the current infrastructure like we are still living in the 1950s.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      If we were living in any analogue of the American 1950s, we would have a chance. Alas, I posit that we are trying to live in a version of the 1970s, before the oil price shocks.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        If you were living in any analogue of the American 1850s, there would be lynchings of the responsible parties for what they have done and failed to do.

        Reply
  18. Glen

    The system functioned as designed, and the Republican Mayor was refreshingly honest about how he was supporting his constituents.

    But I do think I see the problem:

    Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT)

    Electric Maximize Profit Council of Texas (EMPCOT, but it’s pronounced “FU”)

    There, I think that fixed it.

    Reply
  19. Palaver

    Conservatives are divided on the issue. A small percent know that Texas is a petro state and blaming green energy is absurd. Those are the rational ones. For the others, cognitive dissonance activates emotional anger which explains their “you deserve death” rationalization in a time crisis.

    I think Texas Republicans will survive the crisis. Going immediately on the offensive against a straw man of Green New Dealers is divisive and effective politics. Musk and Ellison may realize that Texas is very amenable to their fat wallets, but culturally hostile to their techno futurism.

    Reply
  20. Elizabeth Burton

    I have one simple request. Please don’t allow what happened in Texas be deflected into just another political food fight between Democrats and Republicans. I’m watching it happen as we speak, and to say it’s frustrating is an understatement.

    This Mess in Texas is the direct result of neoliberal economics policy. Period. That said policy was eagerly enabled by the current GOP cultists isn’t in question. Ignoring the fact the Democrats are just as enabling here, and many just as happy to embrace fossil fuel money, is what keeps neoliberal economics in control.

    People died, too many of them children who are always more susceptible to extremes of temperature. The message we need to be disseminating is this: unregulated free-market capitalism kills, and those who engage in it are profiting from murder. It’s really that simple, and has been for a long time; but every such mass murder inevitably becomes just another political opportunity to ensure the masses don’t really know where the real serial killers are.

    Reply

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