The Spark

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

Death by utility company

Jan 7, 2008

A 90-year-old woman was found dead of pneumonia near Kalamazoo, Michigan after her heat was cut off by her utility company in December. Her 63-year-old mentally disabled daughter lived, but suffered injuries related to frostbite and exposure.

The utility company, Indiana Michigan Power – a subsidiary of an Ohio company – is trying to avoid responsibility for the woman’s death. But behind all their claims of innocence is this stark fact: the only person who could contradict their claims is no longer around to protest. She’s dead.

It’s obvious that the company does not have policies in place that prevent shutoff from harming people during winter. If they had, this woman would not be dead.

Utilities that provide the very necessities of life – heat and electricity – are owned privately. In a system where the chase after profit is king, they exist not for the public good, but for private benefit. A death of an elderly woman is one consequence.