Stop Demonizing Government: The Story Continues
In the October Political Dispatch we carried an article entitled “Stop Demonizing Government.” One example we highlighted was the experience in three towns north of Boston where gas mains exploded in a significant number of homes, driving thousands of residents out as fires raged. It turned out that the gas mains were installed by a company, Columbia Gas, whose parent company was NiSource in India. One month later more than 7,500 gas meters are still shut off, leaving residents without heat, hot water, or cooking gas. According to investigations by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, minutes before the explosions the Columbia Gas monitoring center in Columbus, Ohio, received two high pressure alarms for the South Lawrence gas mains. The report places the blame scare squarely with the company. The work package did not account for the location of the sensing lines or require their relocation to ensure the regulators were sensing actual systems pressure.
The Department is hiring an independent evaluator to examine the safety of the actual gas distribution and ordered Columbia Gas to stop work.
I want people hired by the Massachusetts Department of Public utilities monitoring, regulating, and installing gas lines. They will be accountable to individuals living in the area, who vote for the government that oversees that department. It is a question of both efficiency and safety. We cannot keep outsourcing essential services to private companies whose main motivation is profit.
And what about the story about a girl electrocuted in MGM National Harbor
Faulty wiring has been cited in the early investigation of a 6-year-old’s electrocution at MGM National Harbor. That faulty installation, combined with other flaws in how wiring and the handrail were hooked up at the Maryland complex, enabled 120 volts of electricity to be jolted into the girl — 10 times the amount that should have been powering the handrail lighting, according to the early findings. The incident happened in June and the girl is still in the hospital.
The failures, investigators said, stem from “major” code violations that should not have passed the permitting and inspection process. MGM National Harbor is now owned by MGM Resorts International, a far, far reach for investigators or regulators or the voters in Maryland.
Or what about the story of bus drivers losing their pensions when they work for the new privatized DC Bus company, Circulator Bus. Circulator Bus is the DC bus system owned by a mega corporation headquartered in the UK. When Circulator Bus took over, bus drivers saw a decrease in wages. They also don’t get the same pensions they got before.
Or the story that the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority wants to privatize the completion of the Silver Line Metro, explicitly to save money in canceled or reduced pensions for the union members building the line.
Think through this as a Trump supporter. Government is bad because “I don’t want anyone to tell me what to do. Putting things in the private sector means leaving things to the individual, the kind of freedom I want. And the rich will have more to pay out, won’t they?” Well, no. The rich corporate owners of Circulator Bus can well afford good wages and pensions but squeezing every last penny from workers is the name of their rich guy game, so they won’t do it.
— Elizabeth Spiro Clark, Chair, Public Policy and Political Action Committee