No. of Recommendations: 5
Look, I'm a registered Libertarian myself, and you can wrap yourself around the anarchocapitalistic (dare I say Objectivist?) flag all you want, but I think, quite simply, that allowing large regions of the country (and likely to spread) to be plunged into electrical chaos is such a potentially devastating event to the economy of the entire nation -- not just the state you're trying to "punish" for being an wicked, evil socialist -- that the federal government can NOT let it happen, provided the impacted regions are willing to commit to self-sufficiency within 3-5 years.

And as power is being sent across state lines, there IS a federal issue involved per the "interstate commerce" clause. So I respectfully but obviously disagree that there is no federal, Constitutional issue. I would agree that no out-of-state producer should be FORCED to sell into other states, but if they do, that IS interstate commerce.

Your reasoning is why I find it hard to be a Libertarian sometimes. As much as I generally embrace the philosophy, the absolutist hard-liners in free market capitalism belittle anything that involves even a LITTLE government action. And as long as that happens, sadly, smaller government advocates will continue to be seen as kooks who are too busy analyzing and worshipping Ayn Rand to look at the big picture.

ziggy29, I fear you are almost completely misunderstanding my intent. I advocate a LITTLE or even a LOT of federal government action. I just don't advocate a bailout by the federal government. If Bush accepts accountability for fixing this problem, then the root cause will become more deeply buried. When that happens the most crucial lesson of the experience goes unlearned and this means that another situation will almost certainly arise which may not even appear to be related but will have the same root cause. Putting on another crown when the tooth needs a root canal is useless. The precedent of a federal bailout will be more firmly established and it will be even more difficult to address the root cause with each successive crisis.

Voter irresponsibility is potentially more devastating than power, water, or any of a host of issues that the federal government is being asked to fix. The lesson of how California digs itself out of its voter irresponsibility crisis is potentially more valuable to the states than any gain that could come from Bush extending the heavy hand of Uncle Sam into a fray where every nailbiter, backstabber and bootkisser can focus on it to the exclusion of the real reform that is so badly needed.

Believe what you want about my anarchocapitalistic (go ahead and say Objectivist) tendencies, but it isn't my politics driving me to say this. It's my understanding of cause and effect applied to a class of problems that just happens to be manifesting most visibly in California right now. I'm not California-bashing. I'm not like the people who've never lived in California, yet think they know everything about it. I lived there from 1981 - 1994 and unlike many other Californians, I was politically aware. The power crisis is to me, a blatant example of what happens when voters fail to appreciate the gravity of their actions.

You have resisted saying the one thing that the majority of California voters must understand to ensure that this most crucial of lessons has been learned. That the blame rests with the majority of California voters and that it is the responsibility of the California voters to hold their elected officials accountable for solving the problem.

Having said that, I believe Davis, while not guilty of creating the mess, is doing everything BUT leading, refusing to make any of the tough choices that will kill his chances for reelection (and a 2004 Presidential bid). While he's bickering with the Feds and with the Republicans in Sacramento, he could be working to streamline the approval process to get new plants online as soon as possible.

I'm glad we have established some common ground on this. It is always easier to achieve mutual understanding when there is common ground. Bush can certainly help with this crisis and I think the US taxpayers stand ready to offer assistance, but for him or Congress or any federal power to take over in the presence of California's leadership vacuum is a course that is fraught with opportunity. If such a course includes the transfer of wealth from the country as a whole, to the undeserving few, then Davis will accomplish his goal of unseating a President from the opposing party. I can't believe that this is the way we want American politics to work.

Be that as it may, I believe free markets probably work 98% of the time. And a true free market "deregulation" would have been MUCH better than the mess we have now. But free markets sometimes fail in a colossal manner. I just feel this could be one of them.

I disagree that this may be one of them, because other states have successfully (more or less) deregulated electric power. The key to free markets (which are actually managed markets) is that competition must flourish. The competitors must have a level legal playing field.

I don't care personally -- I'm in a location which isn't subject to blackouts, our energy use is moderate and we can easily stomach 50% increases or worse.

I'm glad you aren't personally suffering from blackouts, but isn't this part of the problem? It is state and local regulations that created this problem and reforming the state regulations is probably the lowest level where this problem can be solved. Shouldn't everyone in the state be coerced, co-opted or convinced to participate in the solution?

My fear is that the hard line free-market-worship is going to really put the brakes on any economic recovery we could possibly hope for. Higher energy costs will ripple through the economy -- and not just in energy-starved states! -- which, together with a weak economy, will stoke stagflation, among the worst of all economic fates. Anything produced in these states -- and there are a LOT of things! -- will be MUCH more expensive for EVERYONE. But hey, we have a free market, so who cares??

And believe me -- it won't just be California, or other energy-deficient regions, who are hit with THAT. But hey, better out of work and facing double-digit inflation than be an evil Commie supporting even a small amount of government involvement, right?

If my only reason for opposing federal intervention in solving this crisis was the maintenance of free markets, I would agree with your criticisms. The ability to suspend normal legal processes to respond to emergencies is a key component of our ability to maintain the worst form of government on the planet (except for all the others). We must carefully avoid overuse of emergency powers because our normal legal processes will be suspended when every crisis can be redefined as an emergency.

If I'm being hardline, it isn't my belief in free markets that's driving it. My attitude springs from my belief that dangerous nuclear powered sledge hammers shouldn't be used every time a petty partisan bickerer avoids using the tools at his disposal because he fears the unemployment line. If I had a voice that extended to all California voters, I would somewhat more tactfully explain how they got into this situation and how the fastest way out is probably to send a note to Gray telling him that he should design and implement the solution and ask (as politely as possible) for assistance from Bush and the rest of the US taxpayers. At the end of that note should be a threat that if he doesn't, there will be no votes for socialists during any future elections.

Print the post  


When Life Gives You Lemons
We all have had hardships and made poor decisions. The important thing is how we respond and grow. Read the story of a Fool who started from nothing, and looks to gain everything.
Contact Us
Contact Customer Service and other Fool departments here.
Work for Fools?
Winner of the Washingtonian great places to work, and Glassdoor #1 Company to Work For 2015! Have access to all of TMF's online and email products for FREE, and be paid for your contributions to TMF! Click the link and start your Fool career.