People line up for water at a park in Houston on Feb. 18. Many Texas households are without running water due to frozen and burst pipes.
Millions of people in Texas are living in misery after a winter storm hit the state. For days they have been without heat, light and water.
The loss of electricity caused food and medicines, like insulin, to spoil in refrigerators. Many homes and hospitals still don’t have water because the pumps froze.
Hundreds of people may have died, including at least three people in Abilene. One of the victims was a homeless man found on the street.
Thousands of prisoners in Houston are being held in freezing cells with clogged toilets. Many haven’t been convicted of anything but are too poor to post bail.
Gloria V. of the Socialist Unity Party reports from Dallas that “people are helping each other to survive. Some have opened their homes to neighbors.
“The utilities have rolling shut-offs without notifying residents when power will be turned on and off,” said the SUP organizer. “Internet service has also been interrupted. People trying to warm up in their cars have died of carbon monoxide poisoning.”
How can this be happening in the biggest energy-producing state in the country? This tragedy isn’t a natural disaster. The culprit is a capitalist system on steroids that places profits ahead of human life.
Not everyone suffered. Hundreds of thousands of people living in the dark in Houston could see the downtown skyscrapers brightly lit. Eleven-year old Cristian Pavon froze to death in his family’s trailer home while U.S. Senator Ted Cruz flew from Houston to a luxury resort in Cancún, Mexico.
The soaring gas and oil prices were “like hitting the jackpot,” bragged Robert Burns, a top executive at Comstock Resources. Comstock’s biggest investor is billionaire Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys football club who attacked Colin Kaepernick.
Blame deregulation, not windmills
Four hundred years ago the novelist Cervantes wrote about Don Quixote attacking windmills. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Fox News are blaming wind and solar power for the catastrophe.
That’s more than a fable, it’s a lie. Wind normally produces just 10 percent of the electrical power in Texas. It was when former President George W. Bush was Texas governor that the state started harvesting wind power.
More important than frozen blades on wind turbines have been frozen natural gas pumps. Even coal-fired power plants stopped running because the coal froze. One of the state’s four nuclear reactors shut down.
Gov. Abbott is now trying to divert people’s anger by breaking contracts to sell natural gas to Mexico. That’s another colonial attack that’s forcing over four million Mexicans to go without heat.
The old pharaohs would have been better prepared even without electric power. They planned ahead for floods and famines. Food was stored in warehouses so people wouldn’t starve ― and the rulers wouldn’t be overthrown.
The capitalist utilities in Texas refused to build enough backup power because doing so would cut into their profits. The Lone Star State has its own electrical power grid so its utilities wouldn’t be subject to the Federal Power Commission.
That also makes importing power from other states much more expensive. Homeowners are now being socked with electric bills as high as $10,000.
Electric companies in northern states regularly operating in cold weather are forced to invest in more insulation, heated pipes and crushers to break up frozen coal. Wind turbines can be equipped with heaters and insulated gearboxes.
Texas utilities can get away without spending money on this stuff because of deregulation. The current disaster is the result.