There seems to be a general sense of outrage against corporate interference in our lives and our government. it’s not something you’ll ever see in the mainstream media, you have to be able to think for yourself and realize that all this time we’ve never had control of our government during the last century and a half. Instead, we’ve seen the ascendancy of the corporation as ruler.
Read up on the history of what General Motors did to striking workers in the 1920’s. They essentially paid thugs to beat the crap out of those seeking better working conditions and pay. Nice huh? People say you can’t battle a nameless, faceless corporation. Not true, those corporations have two things that we can use to control them.
The first is that the officers of the company have liability. We’ve seen this over and again when the heads of corporations have been put on trial, sentenced, and served their time. But I don’t think this is quite good enough as the corporation goes on and on, barely buffeted by the event.
Instead, I’d like to see revocation of corporate charter. Without that you can’t hide behind the false legal identity of a corporation. Without that charter it would be necessary to liquidate corporate assets. Maybe take the money that was gained from liquidation and roll it into government coffers and use it to pay for universal health care, or maybe fix our crumbling infrastructure.
Maybe it’s because I’ve seen far too many instances of utility and energy companies shitting upon their customers, and the customers paying for the ‘privilege’.
National Grid’s request for a rate increase to cover losses incurred through conservation efforts, when also coupled with their request that the ratepayers finance their advertising campaign to get more customers to switch to natural gas is just the icing on the cake.
It goes back to when it was Narragansett Electric. They were just beginning the I-195 relocation project and it involved moving high tension electric wires that ran over India Point Park. A long and lengthy battle ensued with the end result being that we the customer paid to bury those ugly cables.
How about the wasted effort and energy expenditure by the chief counsel for environmental affairs at the Department of Attorney General. I wouldn’t want to see Mike Rubin out of a job, but the crap he goes through just to get what was then PG&E to install scrubbers and water coolers is ridiculous.
It’s been proven time and again that installing scrubbers and other technologies would be a small cost for utility and energy companies. But through their insipid resistance, we see a change in our ecosystem. Cold water fish are migrating further out from Narragansett bay, all because a power plant operator doesn’t want to spend a little cash.
Put it this way, go down by National Grid’s power plant in downtown Providence and look at the water near it in the dead of January. Notice it’s still liquid and flowing? That’s the waste heat from the power plant. Even they won’t cool the water down before discharge.
Of course corporations in general don’t realize that if you keep stretching people, they’re going to break at some point and when they do, there go the profits.
I was talking to my father about this. He wants to go off grid with solar and wind but I explained to him that he should keep a close eye on the actions of the incumbent energy provider. Why? Read what I’ve written above about revenue protection measures for National Grid. Lets say my father goes off-grid and sells power BACK to the power company.
No way in hell he’d get from the company what he pays them for electricity. He’d be lucky if he got half. And I told him that he shouldn’t put it past the company to enact a tax the penalizes those going off grid. At least not when they have the stones that National Grid has where they asked for more money because of a revenue drop off due to conservation.
It’s similar to friends of ours. They have a cute house in the southern half of RI that uses a cesspool. Yet they still pay a sewer assessment because the pipe for the sewer runs past their house. I find it hard to believe the employees of the Warwick water board can keep a straight face when they tell people that even though they aren’t hooked up to the system, they still have to pay for it.
Anyhow I’m not the only one who gets it. Apparently Mr. Charles Pinning gets it too. This is why you have to read the editorial sections of the newspapers. Sometimes a gem like this pops up. But Pinning does have a reputation for being a crank, as evidenced in this google search.
Charles Pinning: What to tell National Squid
01:00 AM EDT on Saturday, September 20, 2008
THIS IS A VERY DIFFICULT time of the year for me,” she said. “Don’t mind it if I buy you a box of crayons.”
It was Labor Day weekend, and she looked across to him. Her eyes were red and wet. Her daughters were grown-up and off on their own, but she talked about how much she had enjoyed getting them ready for school each year.
Fresh tears rolled forth. “Shall we visit them?” he asked.
She shook her head. “It’s not that. . . . I was at the Shaw’s in East Providence today . . . and the people — oh my God!”
“I don’t see these people. . . . I go to Whole Foods . . . East Side Market. God! They just looked — Aaaah! . . . ”
She nodded again. “They were so skinny. . . .This one little man, his jeans were all bunched up behind,” and she pressed the heels of her palms together to show how small his bottom was. “Or they’re so fat!” she said, spreading her hands apart. “And their faces. . . . I have never seen faces like that. And they were filling their baskets with crappy food, and paying out their dollars one at a time. But they had their re-usable bags. That has been drummed into them. They are trying . . . but they don’t know where to begin. Go to Shaw’s — that’s where the rubber really meets the road.”
“I know, darlin’, ” he sympathized. “I’ve spent the last 25 years of my life living on the west side of Providence, seeing it every day.” “And the children crying and the mother’s slapping them and screaming at them and cursing and saying, ‘C’mon!’ ”
“I know, sweetheart. . . . It’s about education . . . and parents raising their children responsibly. Being home with them. Spending time with them. Reading to them. Guiding them responsibly. And being given a chance. They just. . . .” and she held her hands out, palms up, shifting them back and forth.
“Right — they’re always kept off-balance. It is the goal of corporations to do this. Deny traction, and you keep people herky-jerky, running in place and churning profits for you. Listen to this:” (He picked up the newspaper.)
“August 27, Business section, front page, headline: ‘National Grid asks rate hike of about 5 percent.’ It goes on to say . . . ‘National Grid also wants the Public Utilities Commission to restructure distribution rates in a way that would protect the company from revenue losses that result from the conservation efforts of its customers.’
“Got that? The raping has been so blatant for so long that National Squid feels it can come straight out and essentially say, ‘You can conserve all you want. We’re still going to squeeze the same amount of money out of you! We’re just shifting the charges to another area.’
“It’s the same thing that the Narragansett Bay Commission is trying to pull by asking the PUC to raise rates because of revenue loss due to customers’ conserving water over the past three years. People logically think they’re going to save a few bucks by using less water or less natural gas — but no! The utilities . . . Narragansett Bay . . . they’re petitioning the PUC to get the same level of bucks they want no matter how much water or gas you use. Where’s the incentive to conserve? We might as well keep nice and cozy and warm, or use as much water as we want because they’re gonna get the same amount of money, whether you use five therms of gas or five hundred; a thimbleful of water or a hundred gallons a day!
“How do I make it clear to people that these corporations have people on a gerbil wheel? That instead of being rewarded for doing the right thing, you will be punished.”
“Say it just the way you said it.”
“But will people hear it? Will they see that we are taking a screwing, so that Grid can show profits to its shareholders and pay its CEO Steve Holliday $3.6 million a year . . . so that Narragansett Bay can continue to funnel hundreds of millions to construction companies to dig a billion-dollar hole in the ground?”
“Just keep on telling it. Also, try to mention that natural gas belongs to everybody — National Grid only delivers it.”
“Oh, sweetheart — the Cherokee in you is coming out.” That brought the tears afresh.
Charles Pinning is a Providence-based writer.