Today, once again, the lights went out in my neighborhood, just as I was preparing to file my weekly column and meet my deadline. The outage was protracted, so the generator needed to be rolled out and powered up. Those of you who’re fortunate enough to be able to remain in the dark about generators—that was me back in South Africa, ironically—should know this: Until such time when you wire up your home (as one ought to do in Third World WA), there are lots of things to do, not least of them lugging extension cords upstairs and unpacking heaters again.
Down the hill, the crew from Puget Sound Energy was visible as the men worked to pry electricity cables from the thicket of trees and branches. As I said before, the grid and power lines suffered mostly tree damage. In this part of the world, the trees are everywhere intertwined with the cable. Why? Why isn’t a wide, tree-free swath maintained around these vital structures? Why are trees not chopped back, in the name of civilization and the sanctity of property, pets and human life?
Here’s why—in all likelihood—we suffer the same severity of damage, year-in and year-out, when snow, ice and wind arrive: the self-defeating dementia of tree fetishists and “Watermelon” legislators — green on the outside; red on the inside.
For one, your property is not your own. You are prohibited from felling unsafe trees. Each request must be backed by a letter from an arborist and a hefty shakedown “baksheesh,” exacted by the goons at the municipality. Such regulation is probably responsible for loss of life, as most people cannot afford to pay the hundreds charged for a permit to chop down an unstable tree on their nominally owned property.
Again, the “Watermelon” worldview creates more havoc than it prevents, and results in loss of life and livelihoods. For instance, because of wood fires, the usually pristine air in our part of the world resembled, at one stage, the air above the shanty town of Soweto. The resources and energy spent–and the lives lost–because of this mess are many times the cost or worth of a few thousand trees.
Alas, one look at Puget Sound Energy’s Facebook Page tells you that the average customer is unquestioning in his supine gratitude to the utility for merely wiring him up again—some after a week. He or she thinks like subjects, not customers.
As long as I’ve lived in WA, PSE has been ill-prepared for our weather. And unless it is beavering away behind the scenes, the utility has been, seemingly, unwilling to lobby the gang of greens in Olympia on behalf of its long-suffering customers; lobby to let it, PSE, maintain a tree-free grid. Puget Sound Energy should petition the gangsters in the Capital on behalf of its customers, who, due to regulation, are catapulted back to the Dark Ages almost every other winter.
And yes, privatization and private property rights that allow all the above would be just swell.
UPDATE I: Welcome to new reader Orin Blomberg. Here on BAB, we all huddle around the epistolary fires of freedom.
UPDATE II: We all love and respect the natural world. Let us look after it as private property owners. Any resources that fall to state control suffer the tragedy of the common. As was explained in this article:
Regulation is always the culmination of agreements between the regulated and the regulators, to the detriment of those left out of the political loop. The state and its corporate donors will invariably come to a consensus as to what constitutes reasonable damages to them, not to the aggrieved. Thus regulation always works to the advantage of the offenders. …
The root of environmental despoliation is the tragedy of the commons, i.e., the absence of property rights in the resource. One of my favorite running routes wends along miles of lakeside property, all privately owned, and ever so pristine. Where visitors dirty the trail that cleaves to the majestic homes; fastidious owners are quick to pick up after them.
In the absence of private ownership in the means of production, government-controlled resources go to seed. There is simply no one with strong enough a stake in the landmass or waterway to police it before disaster strikes. …
Entrusted with the management and regulation of assets you don’t own, have no stake in; on behalf of millions of people you don’t know , only pretend to care about, are unaccountable to, and who have no real recourse against your mismanagement—how long before your performance plummets?
Moreover, in case newcomers to this site doubt this writer’s commitment to the humane treatment and welfare of animals, please read posts like “Who Own the Food Chain,” “A Halibut’s Heart In A Harpy’s Hand,” as well as the many other articles under the “Environmentalism and Animal Rights” categories.