The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Winter storms:
A few private interests freeze millions

Dec 17, 2007

On Monday, December 10, a large storm of ice and snow started in Oklahoma and moved through the central Midwest. Thirty-two people were killed in the storm. At least a million homes and businesses lost power as ice-coated trees crashed onto power lines, and other power lines weighed down by ice collapsed.

Four days later, the disaster area was still a disaster. At least 748,000 homes and businesses were still without power! A city administrator in Missouri said, “there are mountains and mountains of brush and limbs” to clear away.

A spokeswoman for the Public Service Company of Oklahoma said, “It looks like a war zone out there.”

An ice storm, even a large one, is not unusual in the Great Plains in winter! How then does it create a “war zone?”

The “war zone” was not a creation of nature but of man – specifically, the energy companies that own and operate the power systems on which we all depend.

Their war is against us, to extract from us the most money possible, to deliver large returns to the shareholders of the energy companies.

This means that funds for preventive tree trimming and removal are cut to the bare minimum – “shareholder return” is a far higher priority! It means that spare parts and equipment aren’t kept ready. It means that only the bare minimum of workers are hired to keep the power grid patched up with spit and baling wire, instead of being kept up in a condition to withstand bad weather.

And as far as keeping enough trained labor on the rolls, ready for just such regularly occurring “emergencies” – well, forget that! People can just stay cold, hungry and trapped until the companies’ skeleton crews get around to them. It wasn’t nature that made these decisions – only greedy capitalists.