Blackout justice

Power to the deserving people: Sacramentans are pissed off! Well, some Sacramentans are pissed off, but the rest of them ought to be. Many of the pissed off Sacramentans gathered on the steps of the Capitol over the weekend, but we’ll get to them in a minute. First, Bites wants to talk about the Sacramentans who should be pissed off.

More than 60,000 Sacramento area residents had their electricity unceremoniously cut last week—not once, not twice, but on three separate days—to deal with an energy supply crisis artificially created by the persistent political fallacy that the free market can deliver services better than government.

That Reaganesque notion is what got us into this mess in the first place. That’s what electric market deregulation is all about—that near-religious belief that the “invisible hand” of free market competition can solve all of society’s woes, while the hand of government turns to crap everything it touches.

So if their plan isn’t working out as planned, Bites thinks the biggest advocates for the plan ought to feel the most pain, but that ain’t what’s happening.

There was a certain poetic justice last summer when San Diego area residents were the first to feel deregulation’s sting, seeing their bills nearly triple when the rate caps on San Diego Gas & Electric customers ended.

After all, San Diego is one of the most conservative cities in the state, and it was home to the main architects of deregulation, Sen. Steve Peace and former governor Pete Wilson, so they deserved to feel a little pain. Instead, those free marketeers got a big government bailout on their bills, and residents there were spared last week’s blackouts.

It’s just not right! If those hypocrites are going to talk the talk, let’s see them walk the walk. Likewise with Orange County, the conservative heart of the state and the financial lifeline for anti-government right-wingers all over California. Their lights never even flickered last week.

Meanwhile, Sacramento was one of the darkest cities in the state last week, even though Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) has been a publicly accountable and financially stable bright spot in this whole mess. Hell, if the entire state’s system was set up like SMUD, there would be no energy crisis. Still, we get penalized for everyone else’s mistakes.

We all heard the claptrap from the California Independent System Operator (ISO) about how the logistics of the grid forced rolling blackouts only in Northern California and the Central Valley, but Bites ain’t buying it. Surely, there must be a way to target the blackouts to the people responsible for this mess.

So here’s what Bites proposes: Next time the grid approaches overload, the first spots we black out are San Diego County, Orange County, Ronald Reagan’s ranch and presidential library, and the homes and offices of Gov. Gray Davis and all the legislators who voted for deregulation.

That should be a good start, and if the ISO needs any more juice, Bites is working on a more extensive list that should be available by this weekend.

Burning Bush: Bites holds no illusions that the powers-that-be are actually going to put the Bites Blackout Backlash Blame Plan into action, what with über-conservative Georgie W. Bush taking control of the country last weekend, an occasion that saw more than 700 people come to a “Pro-Democracy Counter Inaugural Rally” at the Capitol on Saturday.

It was the biggest feel-good-about-your-righteous-indignation event local lefties have held since Ralph Nader’s overflow rally at the Crest Theater last year. The crowd included representatives from the labor, civil rights, political reform, environmental and social justice movements, all singing, chanting, speaking, listening, waving signs and generally thumbing their noses at The Man.

A fabulous time was had by all, except perhaps the approximately 45-year-old man who ran up onto the stage at one point, grabbed the microphone away from MC Pilar Barton, yelled “Fuck all you idiots!” into the mike and then ran off.

Actually, he probably had fun, too. At least he had a lot more fun than if the Teamsters on hand had gotten a hold of him before making his escape. Boy, it’s sure a good thing Georgie promises to be a “uniter not a divider,” because this country might just pull apart at the seams if it got any more divided.