“I’m only human
Of flesh and blood I’m made
Born to make mistakes.” — Philip Oakley
Conservatism and Liberalism is one thing. We can certainly debate the effectiveness and merits of ideology for years. What I’m looking for is some basic humanity. I don’t ask a lot of my elected officials, but that is the bare minimum of my expectation. When something goes wrong you acknowledge it and do the best you can to fix it.
Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick failed this test in a big way when he was commenting about the power situation. Before I address the full depravity of these comments I should lay the groundwork first, so that everyone outside of Texas has a full idea of what is going down.
Everyone is more than aware of the power failures last week. The death toll is up to 80 as some people literally froze to death in their homes or had other health issues related to not having power for as many as five days at a time. In most cases, those homes also did not have running water and even the ones that did could not consume that water without boiling it first.
Most people that read the news or watch the news know that much. What they may not know are some of the other effects of deregulation. When the power grid was deregulated it turned into the wild west in terms of energy. For years, we had a choice between HL&P and HL&P. If we had a wild march hare we could even go with HL&P. You get the idea.
Suddenly, dozens of companies cropped up with their own plans and charging their own rates. Of course, these companies didn’t actually supply the energy. They just sold it. Competition is usually a good thing until it isn’t. One of the tricks these companies used was the idea of the floating rate. When their rate went down then your rate went down. That was appealing to a lot of people. Of course, over the past month the reverse has happened.
So imagine your surprise if you were one of those people that has a floating rate and you see a bill that maybe was normally between 60 and 100 bucks in a month turn into 500 or 1000 dollars. This is true for many families that were doing good to afford the power when they were paying 100. Also keep in mind that these folks are paying a 1000 dollar bill for power they could not get last week when they needed it. It would be like the movie theatre fumbling through the film, stopping midway through, and then demanding 100 bucks as you walked out the door.
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick told Texans that should have “read the fine print” when they were signing up for their electricity. That’s so on brand. That seems to be an equivalent response to anyone that criticizes people in California for living next to a fault line or poking fun at people that live at or below sea level following a hurricane.
Some people might say that and many others might be thinking it, but we expect more out of our elected officials. Saying something like this adds insult to injury and generally falls under the category of not helpful. Certainly, as someone living in Texas, I could offer up bits of advice for people if they ever deal with this again. We keep a hurricane kit that has things we can use if we lose power or suddenly cannot use our water.
Yet, anyone with a heart knows those words will fall on deaf ears right now. Most people right now want to hear two things. They want to hear that you understand that you are going through tough times. They also want to know that you are going to be there to try to fix the situation. Most of us are adult enough to know that some situations can’t be fixed completely. Consumers make mistakes all the time that can’t completely be rectified and probably shouldn’t be.
We expect some humanity along the way. Of course, this is the same guy that said that our parents would be willing to sacrifice themselves for the good of the economy during Covid. I love it when politicians speak for me. I don’t want myself or my parents to be sacrificed for anything. I also certainly didn’t ask the power grid to be deregulated or the energy sector to turn into the wild west. However, we see what Patrick values.