PSPS = Profit Saving Power Shutoff

This week Californians were thrust back into the 19thcentury as electrical power was cut for a high wind event that triggered a so-called “Public Safety Power Shutoff”. Over 800,000 utility customers, an estimated 2,000,000 plus people, had their power shut down because it was dry and windy in their area. In reality, this was nothing more than the utility company doing everything they can to protect their profit margins regardless of the cost to the residents they serve.  Of course, the reality is they aren’t the ones who are really at fault for this. 

Yes, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is a heartless, greedy monopoly that would rather spend its record profits on hiking executive compensation, bonuses and donations to Sacramento politicians than on equipment maintenance, upgrades and utility corridor maintenance, but that’s about what you’d expect from them.  It’s the people who have for decades allowed them to get away with it and protected them with laws, administrative rulings and rubber stamp approvals from activist judges in the state. Who are these people? They are your duly elected representatives in Sacramento and these unnecessary power outages are 100% on their heads. 

California’s Public Utility Commission (CPUC), appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the State Senate has long been recognized as just another unaccountable government bureaucracy whose cozy relationship and backdoor dealings with PG&E only confirm its lack of independence and willingness to work in the best interest of California residents. It’s role in the so-called “California Energy Crisis of 2000” and later following the San Bruno disaster in 2010 are just two prime examples. 

None of this is possible without the support and groundbreaking legislative work of the California Legislature and Governor’s office on behalf of the power companies and their shareholders. Time after time when the utilities could have been held accountable or could have been made to spend profits on equipment, upgrades and safety, the State of California has instead created laws protecting them. Instead of the companies profits being used for badly neglected safety upgrades over decades, the costs are passed on directly to the customers in the form of ever increasing rates for the now “emergency” upgrades to make the power and gas systems safe. 

The impetus for the new so-called “Public Safety Power Shutoff” program came from the California wildfires of 2018. Some, such as the Camp Fire, which killed 86 people, incinerated 19,000 homes and caused over $10 billion in damages, were directly caused by PG&E equipment. In response to the fire investigation results, PG&E quickly declared bankruptcy to protect itself and its shareholders. 

Let me ask you this. Does it seem normal or appropriate that in 2019, 140 years since the first electrical lines were hung to supply customers with power, that there is no way to keep these lines safe when it’s windy? No, of course not. That’s why power companies invest in new equipment and technology and do maintenance along the power transmission corridors.  Everyone except PG&E it seems. 

PG&E now faces billions of dollars of liability for the fires it caused because they themselves didn’t properly maintain and upgrade their equipment or do the proper maintenance along transmission corridors.  The irony of course is that if they had spent just a small fraction of those profits over the years on safety upgrades and maintenance, they wouldn’t be facing the billions of dollars in losses now… or have killed so many innocent people. Except now, that cost will be passed on to you. 

As far as what brought on this latest outage, it is attributed to dry weather, the presence of dry vegetation near power lines and winds. In other words, absolutely normal daily conditions in many parts of California. 

So what do Californians in the effected zones do?  Scramble to buy generators, overpriced coolers, gas and the last couple bags of ice in the community before the power goes out. Larger businesses were able to secure commercial generators to keep their products from spoiling during the outages. Smaller businesses, the vast majority of those in our communities, aren’t so fortunate. Aside from being out of business for a couple of days, entire stock and inventories were lost.  No power and no burglar alarms means easy going for the state’s criminals. 

For those paying close attention to the outage maps, you may have noticed the tech corridor through Silicon Valley and the immediate area around Sacramento were unaffected. Yes, it’s true. Silicon, computer code, pork and good old-fashioned greenbacks are effective deterrents to wildfire danger. 

The City of San Jose alone estimates it’s loss from the power outages at over $1 million dollars, and this is only the government loss, not the business and personal loss of San Jose residents. Nobody seems to be tallying up the costs for Californian’s, but hundreds of millions to a billion is a reasonable estimate. 

Who is responsible for these losses?  That’s easy, you are. PG&E is not responsible for any losses from a so-called “Public Safety Power Shutoff”. Your lost groceries, store inventory, loss of income, loss of business, accidents, injuries, deaths or crime, are all your responsibility because PG&E warned you ahead of time. Thank you Sacramento!! 

For the PG&E apologists who point out that PG&E is bankrupt and had no choice or ‘would you rather have your community burn to the ground’, I simply point out that this crystal ball reading response to prevent the slim probability of a possible wildfire is purely California utility thing. Everyone else seems to be able to operate in all weather conditions because they do upgrades and maintenance. 

Do I blame the public utility employees? For the most part, no. Most are honest, hard working people who are far removed from these kinds of decisions. At the same time, I take notice of the employees who respond to the electric utility caused wildfires wiping communities off the map by saying ‘hey, I’m on the gas side’. Similar to those who responded to the gas line explosion in San Bruno that incinerated 38 homes and eight people by saying, ‘hey, I’m on the electric side’. Perhaps if those on the inside of the company were to stress safety from within instead of “just doing their jobs”, the company would change from the inside vs. having to be mandated to do normal safety and maintenance operations. 

For his part, California’s Governor said residents should be outraged and infuriated by news of a widespread power shut-off to prevent deadly wildfires but that the utility had no choice. 

As with far to many things, the Governor is completely wrong. The utility did have a choice, in fact many of them over the years. They could have spent money on safety upgrades and maintenance instead of executive bonuses, but they didn’t and this is the result. At the same time, the State of California and the Governor of California could stop giving political and legal cover to PG&E who continue to dip into the bottomless pockets of the California ratepayer. 

If you want this insanity to stop, simply look at who is sitting in Sacramento collecting contributions from the utilities and passing laws to keep them protected from not doing their jobs or investing their millions in profits in upgrades and maintenance. If you don’t want this to continue, it’s time to vote them out. 

Remember; PSPS means Profit Saving Power Shutoff, and you are paying the price. 

Bob

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The Complete Failure Of Gun Control

When our nation is looking for safety, the elitist gun banning politicians always have the same answer, gun control. The problem is it never seems to be enough. No matter how much gun control they impose, there is always ‘one more law’ that will make the difference and keep people safe.  When that one inevitably fails, there is always ‘one more law’ that will do the trick. Each flawed gun control law built on all the previous failures do nothing but oppress the law-abiding, make them more vulnerable and less safe. Gun control is a complete failure. 

Whenever gun control comes up, we’re told “smart gun laws save lives” or that “Gun Free Zones don’t attract shooters, they repel them!”  Yet every time I look at the impacts of gun control laws, I see the exact opposite. 

Take a look at the most heavily gun controlled cities and states in our country. Baltimore, New York, Chicago, St Louis, Los Angeles – or most anywhere in the states they reside. The strictest, most restrictive, most draconian gun control laws in the nation are in play here. Yet, at the same time, they have the worst violence rates in the country. 

Take a look at any week in Chicago and you’ll see what can only be described as horrific body counts from “gun violence”.  And, if you think that’s bad, consider that this is just the “gun violence” numbers. Not reported here are the rest of the homicides from knives, clubs, hands and feet. Not counted are the armed robberies, aggravated assaults, rapes, burglaries or the rest of the crime so rampant in that city. Yet Chicago has among the most restrictive gun laws in the country and ZERO gun stores.  

So how do they explain this? Simple – the guns are coming from OTHER states that have less restrictive gun laws than Chicago. The current Chicago mayor, as did her predecessors, blames other states for causing Chicago’s gun violence.  The thinking is they are only as safe as the gun laws in neighboring states.  In other words, it’s not OUR fault, it’s someone else’s. We’ll just ignore the federal and state laws (in both states) that may have been broken in the process or the act of murder committed in Chicago, not the other states. 

California’s governor is also quick to blame other states for the violence in his own. After doing photo ops with young victims of violence, he also blamed the White House, the Republican Party and of course, the NRA for the violence.  It has nothing to do with his own state’s failed policies of disarming law-abiding citizens and letting violent criminals out of jail to prey upon them. It has nothing to do with ensuring more and more gun free / victim rich environments are established in the state and that less and less criminal acts will ever be prosecuted. 

The Brady United gun control group echoed the Chicago mayor’s and California governor’s blame of other states saying “California is not an island” and “they are only as strong as their neighboring states”. Perhaps all these folks need to look at actual islands and gun control to learn the truth. 

Australia and England, both islands and both with extremely strict gun control laws. Yet somehow, both continue to have severe violence  – including “gun violence” – problems.  Both continue to have new, state-of-the-art-yet-completely-illegal firearms flooding into their countries.  Go take a look at what just the City of London seizes every month and you’ll get the picture.  How is this possible??

The answer can be found in the lack of success in stemming the flow of illegal drugs. Drugs, people, merchandise – including cars, trucks and boats – are smuggled out of and into countries around the world. Do you really think smuggling firearms is going to be that difficult? 

So let’s say the gun control craze is able to take over all the neighboring states, who then will they blame? Two states over? Three states over?  Even if EVERY state gives in and the nation repeals the Second Amendment, who will they blame then when the violence doesn’t stop?  Oh I know, Mexico! Except Mexico has far stricter gun control laws than any state in this country and they have only ONE gun store in the entire country. Besides, the previous Presidential administration got Mexico to blame the US for its gun violence problem, so that’s not going to work. 

The truth is the only thing gun control laws are successful at is turning law-abiding citizens in to law-abiding victims. When you legislate away peoples rights and ability to protect themselves and their families at home and in public, while giving criminals a free pass to continue committing crimes and escalating violence with no repercussions, you are going to get exactly what you see happening – every terrorist, criminal and thug targeting your helpless residents. 

Remember, gun control does absolutely nothing to increase public safety and the answer to fix that shortcoming is always to implement more gun control.

For all you elitist gun banning politicians, it’s time to stop lying to the people about gun control and just admit their safety means nothing to you. 

Bob

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