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Because 'For-Profit Motive Does Not Work,' Ro Khanna Backs Public Ownership of PG&E as Fires Rip Through California

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/11/01/because-profit-motive-does-not-work-ro-khanna-backs-public-ownership-pge-fires-rip

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Good start, Ro. Now…let’s woks for public “ownership” of ALL UTILITIES including internet!


PG&E is in BK with a very low price of maybe $200M that CA has to purchase the system. No more corrupt corporations buying an asset to strip it of all they can sell leaving CA to burn and live in blackouts. Part of the job Khanna said last night on Maddow is to clear cut around obvious burn possibilities. PG&E NEVER did that.


Disappointed to see Gavin Newsome think that another private entity will do a better job. No wonder Bill Maher, the biggest and loudest centrist, thinks he’s a great governor.


I wonder why?

Good start, now lets move forward and privatize them all! When will people stop believing that “CORPORATIONS” act in the interest of anyone other than their shareholders?!?! The raison d’etre of a corporation is to maximize PROFIT - never the public good!


There’s real catches to this in terms of legacy systems. Cities have explored taking over PG&E and it’s not just a matter of political will for why they have been reluctant to do so. Many elements of the grid are old, complicated, and expensive to fix. Years of bandaids on bandaids in dense urban areas and miles of infrastructure in rural areas make maintenance difficult at times, and reconstruction challenging.

What’s really happening is the slow, challenging march of adapting to climate change. Fire prone areas people used to live in that were fire prone due to decades long cyclical climate and weather patterns are now fire prone all the time.


Here the thing about costs as it pertains to a Publicly owned utility. It always suggested it would be too great a burden on the taxpayer to upgrade all of the legacy equipment and infrastructure so as to ensure it safe and reliable.

The same people advancing this meme do not mention how expensive it is to the taxpayer to pay for all of the monies spend on wildfire suppression, those evacuations and rebuild costs after wildfires.


Spot on. Utilities are part of the Public Commons.
Like the National Forests, should be in the hands of the People not the Profiteers.
Start with Water, Air, and Power. That would solve a lot. Even Climate wise.

And just because the aging infrastructure is there, that is exactly why the Public should own it.
People, not Profits should be the mantra.

Naturally Oil and Gas would be on that list as well.

We have lived so long under the thumb of Profiteering that, like the Appalachian Coal Miners, we continue to vote for our oppressors.

As to Buffett, please, talk about a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
There is only one way you get that rich, you take money away from other people.
And you change the laws to help you do that.


I live in calif. Jerry Browns sister sits on the board of Edison the other massively bad electric company here. They own the place. Two years ago the the head regulator was caught red handed taking bribes from both PG and E as well as Edison. Rate payers get all of the cost passed on to them for everything.
Regulator left with golden parachute. Newsom took lots of money from electric and gas interest. He will protect them just like Brown. The only reason Governor has said ANYTHING negative is that electricity is being cut in the richest areas of the state. They are screaming like stuck pigs. They did not care that we have huge increases in cost and fees to ratepayers like myself on a fixed income. We were recently notified that we need charging stations for electric cars. Even though the owner of car will pay a small fee for charging up at station, ratepayers will get total bill for building thousands of these stations. In essence the working class and poor that cannot afford electric cars will pay for charging of all the fancy ass Tesla’s. Instead of taxing the electric cars to pay for it. I will pay for it. I drive a 17 year old nissan.
We have an all democratic legislature here. They could give a damn about anybody but these super rich jackasses like Bill Maher…who also drives a Tesla.


Private Property is the core right the American Revolution secured. Time for human and other species survival to replace that.

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Simply put, capitalism creates an adversarial relationship between buyer and seller. This is a relatively minor problem if the commodity is, for example, DVDs, which we’re free to walk away from if the price or quality are unattractive.

But when it comes to necessities, such as health care, the buyer under capitalism is faced with a seller who has every incentive to cut corners and jack up prices. Electricty isn’t an absolute necessity, but the number of those who have the desire and ability to walk away from it is infinitesimal.


Great post, rolson. Thank you.

Corporate imperative is profit, not service, saftey or people. This is a perfect example.

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I like peanut butter. They don’t serve peanuts in schools because 0.1% of the general public would drop dead of anaphylactic shock. I want the wireless near-monopolies nationalized because we know people that can’t go into any city because 5G wireless microwave radiation sickens them quickly. Maybe a public utility would be a bit more hesitant before killing the public.


I believe you meant to say “make them all public”?

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Thank you, Ro Khanna, you are correct yet still leave out just a bit of the story supporting public ownership of electric public utilities; Imagine we live in a not too distant future, a time when people have relaxed a bit, Earth is healing and humanity has survived the worst, hopefully.

Population has been in a gentle decline. Each person is gradually using less and less frivolous harmful consumption of Earth. Less people privatizing Earth’s life while having more fun, the time of their life. A total u turn from what the elders describe.

Capitalism created chaos. It was operated on faster and faster growth to infinity. Capitalism outgrew Earth and would have destroyed life if humanity had not evolved enough to see how people fit in with the rest of nature.

Several young people discovered almost simultaneously the standard accounting systems yielded a different perspective when calories were used in cost accounting as well as profit and loss analysis. Standard financial units were abandoned and new eco money joined the metric system.

All costs and all public goods were accounted for in calories. Individual consumption declined ever more rapidly and showed why capitalism had given up. Mother Earth took away the privatizer’s free lunch and the lose was, as usual, handed to the public. Bankrupt public utilities based on central control growing faster and faster to infinity doesn’t work and everybody can see it.

The tricky part became technocrats with solutions, but that didn’t last long. Physics is unresistible. When humans began consuming less than what Earth could give, natural bounty grew. Now, with discovery of the seven facet form of government humanity is in tune with nature. An old-fashioned power company couldn’t survive in a world where humans and other life survive and flourish. Life is more fun now that we know public utilities are owned by the public. They keep track of all costs and pollution is almost gone.


Interesting interview on The Real News with Democracy Collaborative researcher:

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The Green Party’s Green New Deal calls for a nationwide smart grid, and democratic control of energy:


Not true whatsoever. The reality of year-round, yearly fires is a fairly new one in California. Cities have considered taking over PG&E multiple times in the past, but the cost of maintaining a bandaid-upon-bandaid system in dense urban areas plus miles of rural infrastructure have made it challenging and cost prohibitive. Moreover, unions have opposed such takeovers in the past, as have voters (voters in Yolo County California recently).

This isn’t just an ideological or lack-of-will issue. There are substantial, concrete challenges in taking over, maintaining, and upgrading an already built, legacy power system. And I say this as someone who 1) worked for a large public utility that came into existence by challenging PG&E in the 1920s-40s (SMUD) and 2) is under a public utility now and is an advocate of public ownership of utilities.