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View Diary: Crumbling Infrastructure: Bridge Collapse in NJ Dumps Hazardous Chemicals into Creek (95 comments)

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  •  The utilitiy companies... (0+ / 0-)

    ...in general, if they are private entities operate completely different than any of the publicly funded ones.

    One of the great things we have in the Cleveland area is the Metroparks, which is a publicly run but a hybrid publicly-privately funded organization. They are responsible for a large portion of the green space that makes Cleveland a good city in which to live. They are an amazing organization that does wonders for the local communities.

    The private utility companies, on the other hand, have a nearly adversarial relationship with the public. They operate mainly with the question of profit first and everything else a very distant second. So maintenance is usually deferred for short term profits unless a section of the utility fails. Then it's a case of "no one could have anticipated" the conditions that caused the failure. Keep in mind that First Energy of Northeast Ohio was repsonsible for the great blackout of 2003 that shut down the bulk of the northeast. It was preventable, but no one wanted to shell out the money to update the grid or power plant hardware or controlling software. This is is just one example. Another good example is the assassination attempt on Dennis Kuchinich when he was Mayor of Cleveland for mandating that all of the city utility contracts be rebid, and forgoing the sale of one of the public power plants to a private entity.

    The railroads aren't much different from the other utility companies. While they haven't hired any killers that I am aware of, they do do everything they can to keep the public out of their affairs.

    I may be a crazy liberal, but I sincerely believe that working to gain a profit and working for the public good are mutually exclusive. And if we are sincere about improving the lives of all Americans, then we need to have a serious conversation about removing profit hunting from all of the public services. Sure, I'm not against letting the free market work in cases where people are choosing private goods and services. But in instances of the "general welfare" like water, power and any other utilities, that wouldn't exist in their current form without taxes and/or heavy government subsidies, then 'we the people' shouldn't be paying for some CEO to get rich by providing for us those essentials that we are already paying for.

    I ramble, mostly because I really care about mass transit and other public utilities, but that's my 2 cents for today. Thanks for the comment.

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