Image Image

  Nostalgia ain't what it used to be

Sunday, 29 November, 2020

"The State Failed Us"

Date: 08 April, 2001

By: Chief

Imageacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has filed for bankruptcy. The parent company blames the deregulation initiative. I claim that it is a combination of factors: corporate greed and 'spoil sports' — absolutely, and government incompetence for the other.

"The State Failed Us" are the words from PG&E Corporation President Robert Glynn after PG&E — the utility company, not the corporation, filed bankruptcy. According to Glynn, the company tried the regulatory path and the legislative path for remedy prior to filing Chapter 11, and failed. Currently the utility company, as of the date of bankruptcy filing, is approximately 8.9 billion dollars in debt.

It is absolutely humorous that poor Mr. Glynn, president of a multi-billion dollar corporation, somehow failed to mention the rather sordid fact that the corporation, since 1996 — the year the deregulation initiative took effect — has syphoned billions of dollars out of the utility company and placed it into other companies the corporation owns. This strategy, and yes it was and is a deliberate strategy, is known as "ring fencing." Basically, the money taken from the coffers of the utility company cannot be touched should (and as has come to pass) the utility company file bankruptcy.

"Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." (Lord Acton)

Which is exactly what we have here. The utility company has been in existence since 1912 and has been issuing dividends to shareholders since 1916. This same company has held an axe over the heads of Californians the entire time as well. 'Pay us our due or die serf'. Their employees are rude, hostile and belligerent — even when they are the ones who screwed up! In fact, the company — just hours before filing bankruptcy — issued 6000 bonuses and raises to mid-level managers and other employees.

That is indeed the crux of the matter. Just how could this have happened? PG&E Corp., is claiming deregulation is what did it. Governor Gray Davis is claiming corporate greed. I claim that it is a combination of factors: corporate greed and 'spoil sports' — absolutely, and government incompetence for the other.

However, just to stick [it] to PG&E, there is a series of rather important, yet unasked questions pertaining to this power fiasco in which California is currently embroiled:

These questions have not been asked of the utility company in a public forum, let alone the parent corporation. Why? That, in and of itself, points to government and regulator incompetence. But, that is the essence of government ... is it not?

Getting back to those questions, how does deliberate and willful strike you? That's right. Deliberate and willful. Decisions, at the company and corporate level, were deliberately and willfully made subsequent to the passage of the deregulation initiative to put a squeeze on Californians and California. Indeed a power squeeze was placed upon the state and its citizens. The ultimate objective of such a heinous deed was, and potentially still is, to rid the state of the deregulation initiative. If that were to come to pass, PG&E would go back to what it was prior to 1996. A monopoly.

There is no other logical reason for what the corporation has been, and is, doing. None.

The definition of extort[ion] is:

". . .The natural meaning of the word "extort" is to obtain money or other valuable thing either by compulsion, by actual force, or by the force of motives applied to the will, and often more over-powering and irresistible than physical force."

And that is exactly what is going on.

But what can we, as citizens, do against such a giant? Well, who says we have to play fair? Or play nicely? PG&E surely has not, why should we? We don't. We use every trick and dirty deed we can come up with to place the corporation and company in thumb screws and tighten them down. Tighten those screws down to the point of pain beyond pain. We can use the law, file objections to the bankruptcy. File a complaint requesting RICO investigation by the feds. Or, we can be outlaws against the corporation and company. Though not at all savory, the results can be quite effective.

We could even ask our elected officials to place liens against all property and bank accounts the corporation owns. That might have some sort of a 'wake up' effect on PG&E Inc. What is the corporation going to do? Sue the state? According to the Eleventh Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states have immunity from suits — unless the state grants the plaintiff a waiver, thus allowing a suit to proceed.

I say fight back and use every weapon available to us. It is time we teach both government and corporations, who act as though they were government, a lesson in civics 101:

Don't get even — get odd on them.

(Return to the top)