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Deep in the Hate of Texas

Texas politicians’ hatred for the Federal government, all regulations, and any collaborative efforts with other states, finally caught up with them recently. A massive winter storm resulted in temperatures plummeting, snow and ice accumulating – and Texas’ independent power grid nearly crashing. Reportedly, they were within minutes (4 minutes, 39 seconds, to be precise) of the ENTIRE grid crashing – meaning the whole state would have lost power. Lord only knows how much more misery and expense that would have generated.

The storm, while unusual, was not unprecedented. Similar extreme winter events have happened before, as recently as 2017 and 2011.

But Texas politicians and utilities executives, having freed themselves of Federal regulations, decided not to build adequate safeguards into their grid and roll the dice, betting one would never happen again. Providing protections that might not be needed for awhile costs money and diminishes profits; and apparently, nobody with chips in the energy poker game wanted that.

Talk about penny-wise and pound foolish (for those old enough to remember that expression). When this extreme event did, indeed, strike the Lone Star State, their stand-alone grid couldn’t meet the unusual demand AND couldn’t draw needed electricity from other states. Widespread outages lasted days, leaving millions with no lights, heat, cooking, and other necessities – including water, when pipes froze and burst, flooding homes and businesses, compounding the misery. Over 30 Texans died.

               

The headwaters of this flood of misery? Texas’ Republican politicians preaching, for years, right-wing sermons that the Federal government is inherently evil, all regulations are inherently bad, and all collaborations with other states inherently demonstrate weakness. Led by former GOP Texas Governor and Trump Administration Energy Secretary Rick Perry (who once embarrassed himself on TV show Dancing with the Stars, apparently learning how to dance around dumb decisions) and current Republican Governor Greg Abbott, this paranoia and arrogance steered Texans toward going it alone with electricity generation and distribution.

Abbott bizarrely blamed the outages on the Green New Deal and renewable energy – although Texas is about as far away from that Deal as you can get, and renewable energy sources accounted for only one-third of outages, while nearly double that amount was lost from sources like gas and coal.

Experts pointed out renewable sources (such as windmills) in colder states, like Iowa and Alaska, are winterized to prevent cold-weather damage and outages; but pound-foolish Texans wouldn’t spend money on that.

Another right-wing Texas politician, GOP Senator Ted Cruz, displayed a similar brain-power outage when he left the state in the middle of the crisis and flew to balmy Cancun, Mexico with family and friends, to escape it. Apparently, Ted thought the Ritz-Carlton’s warm, $300-per-night rooms could alleviate his family’s suffering.

Playing politicians’ pass-the-buck game, Cruz (when outed on the trip) first blamed it on trying to be “a good dad”, then on Republicans’ favorite whipping-boy, the media – complaining that with former President Trump now gone, they’re criticizing him instead. Want some cheese with your WHINE, Ted?

Many Texans were outraged, demanding Abbott’s and Cruz’s resignations.

Meanwhile, after Texas’ stand-alone grid couldn’t meet high demand, widespread outages continued, along with water shortages. At one point, 14 million Texans suffered water-quality problems.

Adding insult to injury, many Texans are now facing absurdly high electric bills. One of their unregulated electricity schemes involved much lower rates when demand was low – but exorbitant rates when demand was high, as in the recent storm. Some are now receiving monthly bills in THOUSANDS of dollars, at the same time facing other losses. The Lone Star State’s total losses are estimated between $45 and 50 BILLION, including “job and wage losses, infrastructure damage, auxiliary business losses, medical expenses and closures”.

Moderates feel sympathy for individual Texans, facing a crisis not of their making. It’s harder to feel sympathy for the state, which keeps electing these government-hating, regulations-bashing, corporations-adoring right-wingers. Especially since the rest of us (including the states Texas refused to collaborate with), will now have to help bail them out. President Biden has already approved a major disaster declaration, providing emergency aid for the state.

Several times in recent history (including November, 2020, when Biden defeated Trump to become President), some go-it-alone Texans have threatened to secede from the U.S. Facing BILLIONS of dollars in losses, they won’t threaten that now; and in fact, will welcome Federal money. But with the rest of us facing the costly prospect of bailing them out for their arrogant mistakes, maybe WE should offer this age-old (paraphrased) advice: Don’t let the door hit you on your outstretched hand on your way out.

 

Images: Google Images

Texas flag: Pinterest

Trump and Perry: Axios

Perry dancing: Imgur

Abbott: CBS News

Cruz: Daily Mail

Abbott/Cruz resign campaign: secure.everyaction.com

Store closed sign: The Nation

Texans in line: The New York Times

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