Rolling Blackouts Hit San Diego: Brothers, You Asked For It!

by | Mar 22, 2001

“State power managers ordered rolling blackouts across California for a second straight day Tuesday, cutting off more than 125,000 customers as demand for electricity again exceeded supply. . . . The blackouts Monday struck without warning, coming in two waves that left more than 1.2 million customers without power from San Diego to Sacramento. It […]

“State power managers ordered rolling blackouts across California for a second straight day Tuesday, cutting off more than 125,000 customers as demand for electricity again exceeded supply. . . . The blackouts Monday struck without warning, coming in two waves that left more than 1.2 million customers without power from San Diego to Sacramento. It was a particular shock for Southern California, since the two previous blackouts, Jan. 17 and 18, affected only the northern and central parts of the state.” The Associated Press, March 20, 2001

There is a direct, causal relationship between what people do and what happens in their lives. Actions have consequences. Since the 1960’s, Californians have increasingly adopted a philosophy of environmental extremism. They have condemned industry, technology, and human development. They have set up boards, commissions, and authorities dedicated to limiting or halting the growth of industry. This has been particularly true in the area of power generation, where in the 1990’s, not a single new generating plant was allowed to break ground in California.

San Diego, for example, has the nation’s largest open space system for “multi species protection.” More than 50,000 acres of “precious” hillsides, canyons, and “wildlife habitat” are restricted from the building of new homes or businesses. The new mayor has set as one of his top priorities the expenditure of public funds to buy up even more open land, “saving” it from families looking for a little breathing space or entrepreneurs who would bring new business and opportunity to the city.

Mayor Dick Murphy has stated he would support a proposal by a private company to build a new electrical power plant near San Diego’s border with Santee only if it could be built without harming the environment, if it would supply power primarily to customers within San Diego County, and if it would sell the power at a reasonable rate. Any new power plant, even a relatively clean-burning natural gas facility, will create some level of emissions. While the right of property does not include harmful uses, harm should be rationally defined: a real threat to persons or property. Restricting the sale of this power primarily to San Diego is shortsighted and an unconstitutional restriction on interstate commerce; power generators must be allowed to build and trade freely if we want reliable sources of electricity in the future.

There is no such thing as a “reasonable rate.” There is merely the law of supply and demand. When people want more of a commodity, they offer more for it, and the price goes up. Producers profit and increase production. Increased supply reduces demand, causing prices to go down to the general level of profits in all industries. As if by an “invisible hand,” the pursuit of private profit provides the public with cheap, quality goods and services in abundant supply. However, when government restricts entry into the market, supply is unable to meet demand, resulting in higher prices and shortages.

Rolling blackouts are but a symptom of a greater philosophical disease: Statism-the belief that our lives ultimately belong to the State. The Declaration of Independence denied that premise, proclaiming man’s inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Our founders believed that governments are instituted among men to secure individual rights, not to rule. In order for man to survive, he must discover and produce everything that he needs. Individual happiness necessarily involves the right to own property, to produce, and to trade. When government taxes its citizens to buy up all the land, restricts growth, and strangles industry, the light of liberty is extinguished. Its citizens are no longer free.

There is a better way, one which was imperfectly tried in the 19th Century, and which brought even the poorest Americans wealth unheard of by kings of old: Laissez-faire Capitalism-a social system based upon individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned. Government protects individuals against physical force (or fraud), but is strictly prohibited from initiating force against its citizens. The state is the servant, not the master, of its people, and is forbidden from meddling in the economy. Men trade goods and services in voluntary exchange, and get to keep what they have earned. Capitalism is the only truly just system ever devised by man, the only one in which men are rewarded for creating, producing, and achieving. That is why even its mixed remnants have achieved the highest standard of living on Earth.

What is needed in San Diego and throughout California is real deregulation of the power industry: elimination of price controls; removal of restrictions on mergers and acquisitions; lifting of counterproductive land use regulations; voiding of environmental regulations that do not prohibit actual (physical) harm; and fast track approval of dozens of new power plants, including the proposed San Diego-Santee facility. To those who continue to support environmental extremism and Statism, when your lights go out: Brothers, you asked for it!

Mike Giorgino retired as a Commander from the U.S. Navy in 1997, graduated from the University of San Diego School of Law in December 1999, and was admitted to the California Bar in June 2000.

Mike Giorgino is a retired Navy Commander and a Gulf War veteran. He was the Republican candidate for the State Senate, 40th District in 2002. He graduated from the University of San Diego in 2000 (where he studied Constitutional Law under Professor Siegan). He practices law in San Diego and may be contacted via e-mail at [email protected].

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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