What we have here in California is a rather unholy combination of factors, all of which contribute mightily:1. A utopian view that we can conserve our way into self-sufficiency even after accounting for growing demand and growing populations and economies;Who had this Utopian view? Could it be the majority of California voters?2. Red tape, environmental extremism and rampant NIMBYism blocking the construction of new facilities;Did this red tape come from outside the state? Where did these environmental extremists live? What polls did the NUMBY's vote at.3. One of the most horribly botched "deregulations" in recorded history, one which will be a classic case study in public policy for decades or even centuries to come, about how NOT to privatize an essential utility. I hate to even call it deregulation, because to a large degree it was the regulation in the deregulation which caused the problems (with regulated prohibition of long-term fixed price contracts being among the worst).Which government created this new regulation scheme?Having said all that, I grow rather tired of hearing how everything coming down the pike is California's fault. California is to the U.S. as the U.S. is to the world in that respect, the entity everyone else loves to mock and scorn, the one they want to scapegoat for all the ills everywhere. It's first to really hit here, but it is coming elsewhere according to most experts, so consider our pain a warning to the rest of the nation, particularly the Northeast.I never said it was California's fault, but if it isn't the fault of the California voters, then whose fault is it? Can you fault businesses for trying to make a profit? Can you fault politicians for trying to appeal to voters? Can you fault parties for trying to field winning candidates? Can you fault the federal government for not stepping outside the powers that were granted to it. I don't think any of these can be held responsible for not ensuring that voters are educated and vote responsibly.This is simply what happens when too many people vote ignorantly and selfishly.I agree that it will happen elsewhere. California doesn't have all the irresponsible voters, but failure to recognize that this was caused by irresponsible voting is folly. Failure to recognize that this was caused by irresponsible voting ensures that it will happen elsewhere. If any good lesson could come from this, it would be that electing the kind of politicians that dominate California politics is a stupid, short sighted, selfish thing to do.I *do* believe that the federal government needs to step in and start enforcing the laws preventing price gouging, and help ensure that power flows from areas which have an excess to those which don't...BUT ONLY if officials from the power-starved states enter a binding agreement which outlines a 5-year road map about how they'll get themselves out of a bad situation. It would be monitored yearly to make sure the states (keep in mind, before long, California won't be alone) are actually holding up their end of the bargain...or else the federal help will stop.Where in the Constitution does it say this is a role of the federal government? As a libertarian, you should know better. The federal government can regulate interstate commerce. In my mind there's a big stretch between regulating it and forcing it to occur. Forcing a business to route cable, install switches and sell power below market price is not the answer. If the feds want to step in, declare an emergency and route the cables, then fine as long as they send the bill to Gray Davis, and allow the power producers and distributors to charge the market price. They can use weasel words about national security or promoting the general welfare to accomplish this, but that makes me very uncomfortable. I realize that it has become fashionable to assume that powers not specifically granted to states are fair game for the feds, but that isn't what the Constitution says and it tromps all over our ability to limit the feds to the enumerated powers.I think Gray Davis should declare a state of emergency and contract with businesses in other states to provide power. When the residents of those states complain about the resultant shortage in capacity and rise in power costs, then Gray should explain free markets to them. When the NIMBY's in those states block construction of new plants and powerlines, then Gray should start a bidding war with the governments and power producers of those other states to build plants and install lines exclusively for the California power markets. The lowest bidder gets a check from Sacramento. When the price gets high enough in California, then demand will drop, either through attrition or because the voters see the light and elect politicians who have the huevos to get the plants built. Throughout all of this, accountability for fixing the problem rests with the government that allowed the imbalance. The only role the feds would have would be to get out of the way and grease the skids with short term low interest financing where required.This situation is too serious to the national -- not just state -- economy and sense of well-being for Washington to do nothing. But they MUST extract binding promises in return to assure that it won't be an ongoing saga.I obviously but respectfully disagree. The federal government did not prevent the capacity from being built. The voters of California did. Free markets provide solutions without giving more power to the feds. They may not be popular solutions, but they tend to be fair because our court systems understand things like fair market value, negligence and eminent domain.1HF
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