The Commonwealth Iconoclast

A site dedicated to covering issues relevant to the Commonwealth of Virginia, and nation at large, plus other interesting things too, as I see fit...

Monday, October 23, 2006

Electric Deregulation Revisited... Likely to fail in Virginia says Richmond Times Dispatch!


Lawmakers asleep at the switch?

Or are lawmakers just selling out to special interests?

The consequences of a failed campaign finance reform policy.

A new case for term limits.

It is kind of interesting when I learn that the big boys in the mainstream media wake up and acknowledge the reality that the Iconoclast has previously reported.

Click here for previous posts.

In the Iconoclast post back in May of this year, we pointed out that electric power deregulation will probably be a bad thing for Virginia, especially for the smaller consumers.

So now we are learning that The Richmond Times Dispatch editorial staff is concluding that electric deregulation will likely fail in Virginia, with the consequences that consumers will be shortly facing power bills skyrocketing out of proportion to present conditions, like in other states.

Surprise, suprise! Electric power deregulation is going to wind up costing us consumers more money!

Duh!

What were our lawmakers thinking when they came up with this idea of deregulating the electric power industry, which was essentially dominated by a few very large public corporations overseen by the government? Did these "rocket scientists" in Washington really think lots of little upstart companies were going to jump in and drive costs down? Have you recently priced the development cost of a new power generation station... by any fuel or method of power production? How about the cost of developing or acquiring a power distribution system?

Frankly, this was a "no-brainer". Of course electric power deregulation is going to cost the consumers more money. Also, anticipate impressive profits for the big electric power generation and distribution utilities... all thanks to our lawmakers in Washington who thought it made sense to eliminate or at least reduce governmental oversight of the industry. Investors want to make money and with the government now stepping away from their regulatory role, expect that management will take advantage of the situation.

The lawmakers were apparently a little woozy from getting wined and dined too much by the lobbyists and didn't think too much about what their actions would end up doing to the average consumer.

Which brings me to another subject... campaign finance reform.

Politicians often do some crazy things and their motives are not always pure, especially when money is so important to winning elections. Candidates and office holders are always looking for more money and lobbyists are always accommodating to make sure money is available to those who can deliver for the special interests.

Given the nature of the system, we are kidding ourselves if we think that campaign finance reform is the answer or will every work. It is not ever going to work... ever!!!

Money has a way of finding its way into the pockets of people who can be bought. (Think Randy Cunningham... a war hero... and a few others in just recent months.)

A few of the politicians get caught. Others don't. But there is a lot of questionable money floating around on Capital Hill.

The Iconoclast therefore goes on record to recommend a serious reconsideration of Congressional term limitations.

This goes for both the United States House of Representatives and the Senate.

Members of Congress should be limited to no more than three, four year terms consecutively, for a total of twelve years consecutively. Presently, Members are allowed unlimited numbers of two year terms.

US Senators should be limited to no more than two, six year terms consecutively, for a total of twelve years consecutively. Presently, Senators are allowed unlimited numbers of six year terms.

If very successful and popular office holders want to wait out a term and then try again for another twelve year stint, that would be fine. But the idea of term limits is to break up the heavy advantage of the incumbency and to reduce the financial influence of special interests on elections.

All efforts to effectively control or manage campaign finance have been thus far a failure... kind of like electric power deregulation has been and will continue to be. Under the present system, Capital Hill is occupied by Senators and Members of Congress who have been effectively bought and paid for by special interests.

This is wrong and undermines the basic principles of democracy.

Unfortunately, for too many lawmakers, it is all about the money... a vicious cycle.

Only by getting new people in office on a regular basis will Americans ever realize true democracy uncorrupted by "influence buying".

Term limits now!!!

11 Comments:

  • At 10/23/2006 12:55 PM, Blogger Alice said…

    The disasterous CA deregulation was passed by after a CA term limits law had driven out all the experienced legislative hands. I have never understood why that did not instantly discredit the term limits nonsense. But then I never understood why it did not also discredit energy deregulation.

     
  • At 10/23/2006 6:25 PM, Blogger Will Vaught said…

    Alice, thanks for the comment. Your point is well taken and I will concede that term limits are not the panacea.

    However, I don't agree that the California scenario demonstrates a clear "cause and effect" relationship between the term limits and the bad deregulation of electrict power results. Evidence of this is found in Maryland and Delaware where similarly bad results can not be blamed on term limits. Perhaps the CA experience is partially explained by the continuation of key administratiive personnel that carried over through the term limit process. (Never underestimate the influence of staffers who always lurk in the shadows behind the elected officials.) Maybe there are other factors.

    Nor do I agree that the idea of term limits is nonsense. With a little bit of planning, there is no reason why all the experienced legislative hands are driven out of office at the stroke of mid-night. Term limits can be easily transitioned in so that there is always continuity and always experienced legislative hands in office.

    Notwithstanding the arguments against term limits, the proven failure of campaign finance reforms in the past suggest that a well thought out term limit plan might actually help make the great American experiment in democracy a more perfect model in the future.

    At least I hope so.

     
  • At 10/24/2006 11:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Do you honestly think that the politicians who are currently in office are going to pass some new laws to compromise their grip on power? Get real!

     
  • At 10/24/2006 11:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Have you checked to see which southside legislator has been sounding the alarm on this issue...give credit when someone deserves it!

     
  • At 10/24/2006 12:57 PM, Blogger Will Vaught said…

    Thanks reader. Actually my staff of Iconoclast researchers must have missed that one. Please advise so we can give credit where it is due.

     
  • At 10/25/2006 12:01 PM, Anonymous A. Latourette said…

    You may have a point that campaign finance reform is a joke, but do you realize that limiting terms of United States Senators and Members of Congress will no doubt require amending the Constitution? That is very hard to do, nearly impossible.

     
  • At 10/25/2006 3:39 PM, Blogger Will Vaught said…

    You are correct. It will require a Constitutional amendment. Difficult yes. Impossible no.

    Putting it in to perspective, there are presently 26 amendments to the originial Constitution, including the the first 10 which are the Bill of Rights. So, there have been 16 actual amendments since the Bill of Rights were ratified in 1791. That is a lot of amendments that were actually approved by both houses of Congress and eventually ratified by the required number of states.

    Some of those amendments were wise and appropriate such as the 15th and and 19th both clearly helping to strengthen our American democracy by extending the rights to vote to more people. Other amendments were just plain foolish, such as the 18th providing for the prohibition of alcholic beverages. That one had to be repealed 14 years later when Congress finally figured out what a disaster prohibition turned out to be.

    Also it is noteworthy that there have been 4 amendments passed by Congress and ratified by the states to become official since 1961.

    One final point... readers of the Iconoclast might remember earlier this summer when the Senate came within a vote or two of passing their own version of a proposed Constitutional amendment banning the desecration of the American flag after the House had overwhelmingly approved a similar version. The Iconoclast took the position that the proposed flag desecration amendment was a good example of trivial tinkering with the Constitution and should be rejected (but it probably will be back from time to time).

    But yes, amending the Constitution is difficult and should not be done for trivial reasons. An amendment to provide for orderly term limits for Senators and Members of Congress is not trivial. It may actually accomplish what campaign finance reform has failed to accomplish... that being... making the American experiment in democracy more perfect.

    Isn't that what we should be working towards?

     
  • At 10/25/2006 8:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Will, you forgot one very important Constitutional amendment, that being Amendment XXII (22nd) to establish term limits for the President of the United States. Before 1951, it was possible for a President to serve an unlimited number of terms. That was seen way back then as a bad idea. So what is the difference between amending the Constitution to limit the President's terms and amending the Constitution to limit the terms of Senators and Members of Congress. I don't see any difference.

     
  • At 10/27/2006 8:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    you may want to check the "Norment Commission" members and minutes of their meetings if you really want to know what is going on with de-regulation...maybe you had rather just listen to rumors.

     
  • At 10/27/2006 10:10 AM, Blogger Will Vaught said…

    The previous writer recommends going to the "Norment Commission" to get the real answers rather than relying on rumors.

    This is a pretty good recommendation except that I would venture a guess that 99 percent of the public has no earthly idea of what the "Norment Commission" is and of that last 1 percent (optimistically speaking), few know where to go to get the information.

    So, for starters, the Iconoclast will clarify that the writer is probably refering to the Virginia General Assembly created Commission Electric Utility Restructuring.

    You can probably get a good deal of official information on the Commission at:
    http://dls.state.va.us/elecutil.htm

    This Commission may be sometimes referred to as the "Norment Commission" based on the fact that Senator Thomas Norment serves as the Chairman.

    Back in the spring, May 31st to be exact, the Iconoclast made a post on the general subject of electrict deregulation and made some passing comments concerning the recent appointment of Delegate Clarke Hogan, a Southside legislator, to that Commission.

    It sounds like the previous writer may have some inside information on the "Norment Commission". Accordingly I would invite the writer to cut to the chase and share with us some of the more significant findings of the Commission at this time.

    Thanks in advance.

     
  • At 10/30/2006 12:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks for the link Will. I looked at it but it was kind of confusing. Guess only time will tell if our experts in Richmond (Norment, et al) will figure this thing out. But given the legislatures performance on some other things like the budget, like transportation, we might have something to worry about.

     

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