Thursday, July 21, 2005

Enron Part 2

Lawmakers OK electricity reforms -

Enron Part 2: This time, it's LEGAL.

"The repeal of the Public Utility Holding Company Act eliminates a 70-year old consumer protection law that prevents utility holding companies that span across states from diversifying out of the utility business, or from siphoning money away from utilities for distant parent companies, clearing the way for increased merger activity in the utilities sector"

This is being promoted as an improvement in the power grid reliability, but like all bad legislation, the special interest portions of the law are stronger and will dominate the outcome.

Consolidation of power companies will do to the power industry what it did to the media; result in a few extremely powerful players that spend bigger portions of ever-increasing profits on the purchase of senators and representatives.

Once there are but a few monopolies in charge of the entire grid, they will use other portions of the law to run roughshod over the poor and middle-class. For instance:

"... the proposal gives the Energy Department broad authority to step in and approve the construction of new transmission lines in any area of the country experiencing transmission congestion if it is in the "national interest" and state regulators fail to grant a permit."

When will the feds step in? When the mega-monopoly asks for it, of course. Where will such lines be built? In poor and middle-class neighborhoods, of course.

Almost as a joke, it seems, this industry giveaway includes "consumer protection:"

"The proposal also contains consumer protection. In an effort to improve market transparency, federal regulators are authorized under the proposal to create an electronic system to provide market participants and consumers with regularly updated information about the availability and price of wholesale electric energy and transmission services."

So while the eventual energy behemoths begin raising prices unabated by competition, the feds are authorized, but not required, to send out pamphlets with spin about how everybody's getting screwed so get over it.

We have seen what happens when you allow "free market" forces to get into the power grid, Enron shamelessly and relentlessly raped the shit out of California transferring billions of dollars from CA residents to a doomed, criminal enterprise.

How does Congress plan to stop such abuse in the future?

"Seeking to deter Enron-style manipulation of power markets and prices, lawmakers boosted the criminal and civil penalties for individuals found to manipulate power markets to $1 million in some cases."

What percentage of corporate fraud do you suppose is ever discovered, let alone prosecuted? Then how often do you suppose they get the maximum penalty? Finally, if they're able to steal billions, how hard will they consider a million dollar fine?

Wake up, Middle Class. Your America is being siphoned away, bit by bit. Corporatism and fundamentalist Christianism have joined forces. One line in this bill tells you all you need to know:

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, the author of the House version of the bill

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