Its been an interesting week in Texas. You all know about Texas. One always gets the impression that it is preparing for independence; at least under its current Republican leadership. And its always worried about ideology rather than the welfare of its people.
You know. Creeping socialism.
So this week Texas led a cadre of red states into the Supreme Court for the third effort to strike down Obamacare and leave millions of citizens, inclunding its own, without health insurance in the middle of the pandemic.
The fight over Obamacare began years ago over the provision requiring everyone to have some form of health insurance or face an income tax penalty. The right screamed that this was infringing on our freedom and that the penalty was unconstitutional.
Texas led the suit and the Court decided – the penalty was actually a tax and Congress had the right to levy taxes. Strike one.
The red states then argued that the mandate to purchase health insurance was itself unconstitutional; people had a right to purchase insurance or not. You can’t make 20 somethings to purchase insurance. Wrong. Strike two.
Getting healthy people insured makes the blended risk acceptable for insurance companies.
Texas took another shot at Obamacare this week. Trump had reduced the tax penalty to zero and now the red states argued that there was no way to enforce the mandate and therefore the entire program should be scrapped. Strike three.
The Court got a bit testy under their serene robes.
Why have you filed this case? You have no standing. You are not a victim of this law. You have not been harmed. Essentially, “Why are you here? Go away!” The vote was 7 – 2 including 2 of the 3 Trump appointed Justices Even Clarence Thomas joined the majority. It is generally agreed that there will be no more challenges to Obamacare.
The only reason the ideologues wanted to strike it down is because it is Obama’s crowning achievement.
Next in Texas is the matter of guns. Texas, like everywhere else is facing a rash of gun violence. It never seems to dawn on anyone that the reason may be too many guns.
Governor Abbott of Texas signed a bill into law allowing open carry of hand guns on the streets of Texas without a license requirement, a background check or completion of a course in gun safety. Texans could already carry rifles in the street.
What happened to a “well regulated militia?” I’m sure Texas streets will be much safer now that everyone could be armed.
Abbott also decided last week that Texas will build its own wall to keep those drug dealers and gang members from flooding into Texas from Mexico. The Governor pledged $250 million to the cause and plans to crowd source the rest! Guess he’s pissed that Biden pulled funding for Trump’s wall construction.
Abbott seems to have forgotten that the Feds own the land that Trump seized for a border wall. I don’t think he’ll get it back anytime soon.
While all of this was going on last week Texas has been suffering under the brutal heat wave roasting the American west with temps well over 100 degrees. Some parts of the west have reached 120 degrees Enter the Texas electrical grid.
There are two electrical grids in the United States – one for Texas and one for the remainder of the U.S. They are not connected so while Iowa maybe too hot (or cold) and is facing a power strain, it can buy excess electricity from say Oregon rather than resort to rolling blackouts.
Not so Texas. It has power generating plants and a commission managing the grid. Your household has a choice when it signs up of paying either a fixed rate per kilowatt hour or a “market rate.” Texas loves free markets.
Recall last winter when it was so cold conventional power plants in Texas went off line. The conventional plants ran on coal and other traditional fuels. The plants powered by solar and wind kept on chucking.
In the face of the strain (people wanted to keep warm) the grid virtually collapsed leaving millions without heat, some for 5 days. Those on “market rate” power bills were charged thousands of dollars. No help from the state government.
The heat is doing the same thing a few months later. “Please reduce your usage of electricity!” Please! Otherwise there will be blackouts! Nice when its 110 degrees.
So it seems the Texas power system doesn’t work well when its too cold – or two hot. Whose fault is it? Lots of finger pointing. Its the fault of the generating plants! Its the fault of the commission! Some pointed fingers at the renewable energy plants – an obvious ideological lie. Texas is after all the energy state!
So while Abbott was busy with Obamacare, guns, the wall and reworking the school curriculum, Texas doesn’t seem to have raised a finger to address its power issues. That might actually help people. It will however be easier to get up in the morning in a sweltering house, get in your car and open fire with your unregulated hand gun at your local power office.