Governed by the stupid

Marshall Ward
Marshall Ward
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In the Texas Polar Vortex catastrophe, the only statewide officials telling the truth are from the company actually managing the electricity – while, as expected, the Texas elected officials like Gov. Abbott and Rep. Dan Crenshaw are lying about what happened.

Nearly half of the state’s natural gas production has come to a halt due to the extremely low temperatures, while natural-gas-fired power plants have forced some operators to shut down.

Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) blames the Texas electric grid failure on the GOP’s short-term thinking and love of profits from fossil fuels.

The Texas electric grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas [ERCOT], lost control of the power supply because of poor infrastructure and no planning for the unseasonal cold weather. This left 2 million Texas households without electricity, and many of those without heat as well.

As a result, “ERCOT was forced to implement rolling blackouts up to 45 minutes per affected area,” explained the Texas Tribune, an Austin nonpartisan, member-supported media outlet.

As it stands, ERCOT is predicting rolling blackouts could leave Texans without power for “maybe a month.”

“If Texas were on the national grid, homes wouldn’t be as low as 15 degrees. But no, we had typical ‘yee-haw’ thinking that we’re better than everyone. Or we could have planned, made sure our wind turbines had cold weather packages — companies like Siemens sell them — given how much of our power comes from turbines now frozen,” reports Texan Kurt Eichenwald of the NY Times.

“Instead, these idiots who think they know more than experts go ‘Yee-haw! It’s so cold,’ and ‘we own the libs who say global warming!’”  

This would not be anywhere near this bad if:

  1. The US invested money in our power grid.
  2. If Texas either got on the national grid, bought cold temperature packages for turbines, or both, and
  3. Listened to science, explains Eichenwald.

“But as always, we are “governed by the stupid” who think they’re the smartest people in the room, think preparation is for wimps, laugh at science, and are more concerned about lowering taxes than public safety. We’re captive to the dumbest among us. And through the people they vote in, we are rapidly turning into a 3rd-world country while cheering how exceptional we are,” Eichenwald charged.

But as always, we are “governed by the stupid” who think they’re the smartest people in the room, think preparation is for wimps, laugh at science, and are more concerned about lowering taxes than public safety.Click To Tweet

We’re captive to the dumbest among us. And through the people they vote in, we are rapidly turning into a 3rd-world country while cheering how exceptional we are.Click To Tweet

‘We are nearing a failed state in Texas’ thanks to GOP leadership,” according to Beto O’Rourke, former congressman from El Paso.

The plight of millions freezing in Texas is heartbreaking, infuriating, and a reminder of just how the U.S. is in serious denial when it comes to the impacts of climate change.

Emily Atkin reminded us in her newsletter, Heated, “10 years ago the frigid temperatures were a punchline for climate skeptics who delighted in pointing out the cold weather in contrast to fears of global warming. It’s a dangerous fallacy.”

“Climate change’s cautionary tale: New York City got its first serious snowfall in over a year this month. The small blizzard felt more normal than the unnatural-feeling rain that had plagued it for most of January. It’s the cold that’s an anomaly now.”

New York is now considered a subtropical region, as winters refuse to dip much below freezing on average. And the welcome respite from that truth in the form of nearly a foot of snow had come from another fragmented polar vortex.

The suffering in Texas is a reminder of how shortsighted the skepticism of science really is. A focus on the immediate present at the expense of the future is what got us into this mess.

There’s no quick solution to the problems Texas faces, but these aren’t abstract issues:

  • People are literally dying of carbon monoxide poisoning trying to heat their homes by running their cars inside their attached garages.
  • Thousands of COVID-19 vaccine doses were at risk of spoiling from the power outages.
  • And crops that were planted ahead of the spring harvest are dying under the snow and ice, burdening farmers who were already struggling after years of the Trump administration’s trade war tariffs.

But as Texas shows, the lessons will be a hard and costly to learn for all of us, both in dollars and in lives.

The lasting question remains, why does it take many Americans so long to learn basic lessons of life? And when will we no longer allow ourselves to be governed by the stupid among us?

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Marshall Ward

Marshall taught history and economics for twenty years in Charleston, SC, then moved to Murray, KY, where he taught AP history for seventeen years. (Read the rest on the Contributors page.)

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