pfunk1978

I'm just finally coming to terms with most of it

The people of Texas should seize and conglomerate their electrical power systems or face tyranny in a time of climate disaster.


But first, a story.

Not too terribly long ago Domino's pizza came to an unsettling conclusion. They were loosing money and didn't know why. Their sales were low and everything they did seemed to make no difference.

Taking cues from McDonald's, they became a leader in innovation in their industry in an effort to save money. Time from order to delivery of their product was streamlined. Over the years they had substituted higher priced ingredients for more, let's say, economically meager alternatives. Labor costs were kept to a minimum. Still they lost money.

Like any corporation worth their salt they threw their marketing team into action with a number of surveys. Surveys showed general satisfaction with delivery times. They also showed that customers generally favored their competitive price. However, Domino's was hemorrhaging cash. Then they found it. The marketing team found out why their sales were low and why they were losing money.

Their pizza fucking sucked.

They had lost sight of their main goal, which was to make money by selling pizza. The effort to make their product more profitable by using cheaper ingredients had backfired; their product was worse and people didn't want it. This is a losing strategy seen across many fast food industries. McDonald's used to have a good hamburger. Taco Bell was once a decent taco stand. In their thirst for more money their product became merely an edible derivative of something that once resembled food.

This trend of cheapening the product, this innovation to the bottom, produces a side effect wherein people will want it less unless the price is right. It's a gamble and the payoff is the consumer must radically lower their expectations of excellence in the product. However, as Domino's found out, there is a bottom. There is a point of quality so low that most consumers will not follow. McDonald's and Taco Bell had found their equilibrium points. For Domino's the lesson was a painful one.

But...

The general population really has no stake in the viability of Domino's. If the company should fail, thousands of people would be forced to find other low-paying, dead-end jobs of which, there are many. Life would continue as normal. In the grand scheme of things the mistake Domino's had made and their near-death experience matters not at all. But, what if the stakes are higher? What if the product is not a pizza, burger, nor taco? What if the product is instrumental to the functioning of our society? What if the product is electricity?

Then it got cold.

If you are reading this from the future, I am writing this from my house in San Antonio just after snow storm Uri in mid February 2021. While the power in my neighborhood has gone uninterrupted, for nearly 4 million people it has not. Not only do people not have electricity to heat their homes, water infrastructure can't operate pumps to supply water to customers. One class of those customers is the grocery store industry. As they have neither water or power there are now lines hundreds of people long to get into the few open stores to find rapidly depleting food stocks as delivery trucks are sidelined waiting for operable fuel pumps.

Let's be clear about a few facts: people have died, it was totally preventable, the governor blames green energy and a soon-to-be guillotined, former mayor doesn't give a fuck about your problems.

Due to the Republican and Neo-Liberal fetishism of deregulation, ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) is an entity run by the corporations that it is supposed to govern. In their quest for profitability over reliability they have allowed these energy companies to give us the Domino's pizza of electrical grids.

Deregulation always leads to profits over all. Proponents of it will always tout that it will lead to more choice, competitive pricing and is the “free market” solution; better in every way for the consumer. However, I would argue that I don't really want choice or competitive pricing in my electrical provider. I expect it to work in cold weather. I expect to pay a reasonable price for it without this “choice” that I'm frankly not included in. Furthermore, I would expect industries that waste electricity and pollute our environment to have to pay more.

I predict the chance of regulation returning to Texas's electric industry to be quite low. Some reforms will be demanded, and some heads will figuratively roll, though I wish that were literal. Any reforms forced upon ERCOT by the government will be made to satisfy the requirements of the shareholders not the constituents. You and I will play a minor roll in determining the future. Any substantial changes minimally required for ERCOT to live up to its namesake will be passed to the consumer. You will have to pay more for electricity in order to make up for the poor decisions of ERCOT. Much, much more.

We have only just begun to feel the pain

I lived in Chicago for 12 years. As far as winter storms go, this was pretty weak. This once-in-a-lifetime storm was standard fare for the upper mid-west. As climate change worsens, which it will, and as people move here, which they will do, increasing demand on this grid will produce repeated failures. It is a shit-show in the making. The cost to update the grid to future-proof it for weather conditions will be in the billions.

How can we afford to update the system and maintain profitability for share holders? We can't. And frankly, we shouldn't. Why should the electrical grid operate at a profit? The great contradiction of business, which in business circles is either never talked about or outright dismissed, is that often “good business” is wholesale immoral. Gross profiting from life's necessities is immoral.

Some would argue that electricity is not in the classical array of necessities of food, water, shelter and clothing and that it is merely a luxury that is taken for granted and has falsely ascended to the status of necessity. I would argue that human survival without any assistance from others is impossible. So impossible that we have created super-structures, societies if you will, in order to ensure not only our survival but the survival of others. As societies grow they naturally develop mechanisms of efficiency based on new technologies created by the members of that society. It is a symbiotic relationship that suffers greatly when a technology fails. The society, unable to move, cannot rely on previous mechanisms as they have been erased now that they are obsolete. A modern society requires modern technology, therefore the individual also requires it thusly.

An individual requires inputs and processes to survive: material means. It can be weakly argued that an individual who chooses not to acquire those means directly, but instead chooses to source them from others, can be a source of profit to the providers. However, as a society progresses, and the aforementioned mechanisms are erased, the individual now must acquire material means from others. It is therefore immoral to profit from the necessities of life supplied by a society as the individual now has been stripped not only of choice but of opportunity. Profit in this manner is not derived from voluntary interaction, but rather coercion.

We live in a coercive society. As electricity is necessary for society to exist our only “choice” is to pay for our own exploitation or to exit civilization. That is not a choice of free people but of a people held hostage and enslaved by moneyed interests. The choice of exploitation or expulsion is the coercion, and the governmental enforcement of this choice with its limited alternatives is corruption. We are being used.

But, we did our part. We fulfilled our part of the coercive deal forced upon us in exchange for the security of the fruits of society. They have failed us. They did not live up to their end of the social contract, and now we are the ones to bear the burden. Am I or my fellow Texan required to enrich other men at our expense? Are some of us required to die for the sake of money-for-monies sake; our flesh rendered to heat the ovens of the rich? A society that relies on exploitation and death as its provisions of social contract is one that is justifiably deserved to undergo a violent reformation.

Liberty is Self-determined Security

Climate change is upon us. Our future, our survival, depends on the willful cooperation of people in society free of coercive and exploitative relationships. Members of ERCOT, blessed by the government, will continue to innovate to the bottom in the name of profit. They will find that equilibrium point at the expense of more lives either via direct consequences, as we have seen recently, or via pricing their service high enough to drive the people into poverty. It is truly a race to the bottom.

If we can agree that societal needs aught not to be run at a profit, then we should also be able to agree that those needs aught not to be owned by profiteers. The electrical grid should be owned, directly owned, by the people and administered and maintained by the workers of the electrical industry. It is a self-determined security required for a liberated society. Security provided without liberty is tyranny and those who have the power to willfully maintain a coercive society are tyrants who should be dealt with accordingly.

Originally published March 23, 2020 on icedchickenandfriedtea

The challenges of starting a new political party are nearly insurmountable. A Syndicate and a Credit union is a better choice to meet your political goals. It will probably even make you happy.

For the second week #DemExit is ablaze in the Twitter universe. It is officially part of the Zeitgeist. Fueled by the disenfranchised peoples whose candidate lost even more primaries to a man who is mentally unfit to be President, most are leaning to some form of leftyism without knowing where to go or what to do when they get there. They are angry, and possibly even motivated to start their own political party. Some have tried before, but to paraphrase Frank Herbert, many have tried. Tried and Died.

I understand the longing for a third party and don’t entirely disagree on the proposition. However, even though better representation of the people in the State is long overdue, the representation of the people is not in a parties’ interest. For a time the Libertarians had some authority in the Republican party. Now, some ten plus years later, they are a docile faction easily kept at bay by flashy displays of anti-progress against social concerns from their Republican brethren. With their pocket Constitutions neatly pressed to their breast they can be safely ignored while the progressives in the other party continue to suffer ideological setbacks from the institutional Democrats. The progressives have made some inroads into local elections, but their power is paltry and unknown as their visibility is not apparent to most voters.

The reason that the two big parties can save their positions of influence and power is due to the protectionist and preservationist natures of Citizens United and Central Media. They are the institutions tasked with appointing the elected into position; taking instruction from those who can supply the money and profit the most. The Republicans and Democrats are equals in corruption and equal in their servitude to the monied elites. Therefore, they are equal in nature. They are two sides of a coin owned by corporations and difference is merely illusion: the illusion of choice.

We, the voters, are not innocent victims in the scenario that we have allowed to be created. We have allowed the Central Media to divide us among any belief that we hold dear. In this division we ‘elect’ officials in our bid to wage ideological war against each other for the spoils of moral superiority. It is that which is the only offering of the party. The parties only concern is to make policies to suit their own interests. They don’t produce anything and exacerbate most everything. They do not make the world a better place. Their only beastly instinct is to create policy that will allow the opportunity of change, then allow their special interest masters to reap the rewards. They have made dogmatic voting procedures to prevent any infiltration from any outside threats and in doing so they have made their institutions as paramount as the laws of nature. The voters are held fast to their allegiance to the party because they inherently know power resides in numbers, and while the party only offers falsehoods to the voters, through monopolization of the system and coercion via the media, they gain trust from the voters. Trust is the currency for a political party. The people have developed a Stockholm syndrome affinity towards the party and see outside influence as unworthy. Any outside third party, even if they are well intentioned, can not garner enough voters into their ranks to affect any real change. Why should they if they too can only offer a weak promise of moral superiority?

The question on how to affect change remains. In the past major change was brought about by revolutions or reactions against devistations by war. The hindsight of the last decade regarding the revolutions in the Middle East, as well as revolutions in ages past, has taught us that revolutions do not create liberty but instead power vacuums that are time and time again filled by despots and vengeance. Vengeance does not create justice. Vengeance does not ensure equality. Vengeance does not cleanse the mind nor soothe the soul. Vengeance is the chaos of anti-liberty. Revolution ensures a transfer of power from aristocratic oppressors to disorganized oppressors. Disappointing, I’m sure. I can think of at least twenty people whose heads should be on spikes.

So, how does one affect change if the political system is rigged and pitchforks are useless? How do we feed our families? How do we educate our children? How do we find satisfaction in life? How do we ensure liberty for all? How can we find ourselves in a position where we said we made a positive difference instead of making excuses?

We need to stop playing the game. We need to follow the non-approved route into the future. We need to stop trying to change that which cannot be changed and go full force into that which we can. We need to stop the circle of insanity where we do the same ineffectual thing over and over again.

We need to start syndicates in order to control local and state level elections.

Syndicates are the antithesis of parties. Where the party can only offer divided moralities, self interest, broken promises, and are divorced from the daily lives of the people they represent, the syndicate is, by nature, a cooperative group of likeminded peoples: an agent of action and change. The party gains its strength via dominance over the whole system, but its weakness is at the local level where the money and attention is diluted across a wide area inherently making each candidate expendable and sacrificial in order to protect their larger interest.

The majority of injustices that we suffer, or endure, are most often due to unjust policy at the local level. While we direct our anger at the US House of Representatives, Senate, President or Supreme Court, it is the federated nature of the US that allows the bulk of the laws and policy decisions made at the local and state level to directly impact our lives.

Grants to homeowners in order to fix their home are controlled by the state and are typically only reserved for people who are so poor that they are unlikely to own a home, or the grants are so restrictive that they will only be approved for specific repairs without full coverage. Single payer healthcare is within the authority of a state to provide. The states of California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Vermont have all had propositions on single payer systems within their borders and all but Vermont’s have failed. It is also within their authority to coordinate with other single payer states in order to negotiate prices with the Big Pharma. The State also has the power to shutdown and enact laws that supress abortion clinics, enable more restrictive gun laws, determine where superfund sites are built and which corporations incorporated in their state could have their corporate charters revoked.

So where does a syndicate and a credit union help with these problems? A well constructed syndicate should be part political party, part volunteer group, part NPO, should be as democratic as possible and should work in a manner to gain as many members as possible. A syndicate should look at their community and determine what problems can and should be solved by volunteers, grants, and extremely low or no interest loans. Repayment by the recipient of the volunteer work should, where applicable, come in the form of volunteering back into the syndicate as well as moving as much of their financial interests to the credit union as possible.

These repayment actions have compounding positive effects. Firstly, the recipient gains trust in the syndicate as it has demonstrated the ability to affect change directly in their life and community. Through the repayment by volunteering, the recipient can view their actions within the syndicate positively affecting others in their community, which will strengthen their trust bond to the syndicate. Lastly, the recipient moving their financial interests, however meager they may be, to the credit union further enables the credit union to supply more capital to fund more projects. It is therefore in the best interest of the recipient to join the syndicate outright and reap the rewards of membership.

As a syndicate gains trust and influence in communities, and as the individuals in the communities see themselves not as part of some faceless organization removed from themselves, but as the core elements of the group, the syndicate can then start its efforts in running trusted members for elected office. The constituents are built into the syndicate. The syndicate should work to spread their influence by social and traditional media in order to gain inroads into other communities, towns, cities and counties with the end goal of an eventual takeover of the entire state. With this model a syndicate can begin to drive a logistical wedge between the Republicans and Democrats, forcing them to compromise and recognise the will of the people. As syndicates spring up across the nation, they can network and coordinate with each other to form a decentralized party in order to gain national prominence.

As we can see, political parties are instruments of the corporate elite used to strip away liberties. Why would we want to add to that diabolical system? A syndicate is the better choice for the people that can actually affect change. In my next post, I will go over how to start a syndicate, how it should be structured, and what methods it should use to be able to expand its influence.