One of the problems with the news media today, even when they do their job properly, is a failure to make connections, even when they’re obvious.
There is an unfolding story in California that your newspaper will typically cover as two separate stories. One story is a tale of budgetary woe, in which the state, suffering under a tenacious recession and stymied by its own political logjams, struggles to figure out how to close a gap of many billions of dollars in its budget. If it can’t, we Californians will discover very quickly that just as the federal government cuts our taxes (a little bit if we’re middle class, a lot if we’re rich), the state will either raise our taxes or cut our services and schools (or, if we’re really lucky, both).
This is a big story. Meanwhile, in the other story, the state of California tries to persuade federal energy regulators that it should be able to abrogate exorbitant energy contracts it signed at the height of the energy crunch in 2001. It is now a matter of public record, established by those same federal energy regulators, that California’s energy prices jumped through the ceiling because energy companies were illegally manipulating the deregulated market. (Though at the time the much-reviled Gov. Gray Davis was sneered at for suggesting as much, his claims were dead right.) But, strangely, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which thinks those prices were illegal enough to be bringing “enforcement actions” against 60 energy companies for gaming the California energy market, nonetheless thinks that they are still legal enough that the state — and citizens — of California should have to pay them.
It seems completely obvious to me that these two stories are closely connected. Californians, your billions can go to (a) buying energy at prices that were “Insane!!!!”, as Crazy Eddie used to put it, and illegal too (as Crazy Eddie turned out to be); or (b) keeping your classrooms open and your state services running.
Instead of wasting our time recalling the governor, we should be impeaching the FERC.
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