What does it mean when the power goes out for days in the freezing cold weather? Dr. Harriet Fraad described what that means in the latest episode of Capitalism Hits Home
Fraad: “For people whose oxygen machines run on electricity it meant death or extreme illness because those machines couldn't work. What it means is if you have an electric stove you can't even purify the snow by boiling the snow into water. It means that the pumps that pump the water into your faucet don't work. It also means that you can't call for help because the telephone lines are down. You're stranded. You're abandoned. You're alone and you have no help.”
This has been the lived reality for Texans in the wake of extreme cold and loss of power which has resulted in dozens of deaths. But it did not have to be this way. The vast majority of Texas was left vulnerable after the choice to not be part of the national grid in order to avoid regulation, and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) refused the expense to weatherize their infrastructure in order to seize bigger profits. But the city of El Paso was spared as a result of their choice to remain on the national grid. As Dr. Fraad explained in the episode, El Paso lost power for just 4 minutes before receiving extra electricity from New Mexico and Arizona.
Forlano: “I wonder if people will continue to say 'Oh, deregulation. Good idea' in these places where they have come face to face with what it is to have a deregulated electric market.”
We hope that that will change. The devastation and the loss of human lives that resulted from the extreme cold temperatures and energy mismanagement by ERCOT is yet another example of how hard capitalism hits home.
Capitalism Hits Home is a show about the intersections and mutual shapings of capitalism: class, gender, race, and every aspect of our personal lives. In this program, Dr. Harriet Fraad and Professor Julianna Forlano aim to educate, activate, and even alleviate some of the burdens we all experience living in a capitalist USA.
This show is made possible by donations to Democracy at Work and to Capitalism Hits Home's Patreon. Your support helps us compensate the staff and workers it takes to put an episode together. We are grateful for your contributions even through this difficult and turbulent time and we thank our Capitalism Hits Home patrons for being a part of the team.
A recent episode of All Things Co-op tackled the concept of alienation by discussing the 1999 film “Office Space”. In their discussion, Kevin gave a shout out to Capitalism Hits Home:
“Capitalism has this ability, this tendency, this goal of alienating human beings from what they really are. And we all feel that. We all have a personal experience of this. Democracy at Work has an entire podcast called Capitalism Hits Home that's essentially exploring all of the different ways in which this feeling of alienation, this process of being churned in the combination of modern finance monopoly capitalism makes human beings lives miserable, and in some cases not worth living. We have an opioid crisis and alcoholism and all of these different things that are all the result of something fundamentally wrong with what we do and how we do it… Check out Capitalism Hits Home if this alienation topic interests you. I think that Capitalism Hits Home is an amazing way to see how all of the different things in our lives are affected by this process of alienation that is linked with capitalism.”
Just as Kevin recommends Capitalism Hits Home, we think if you enjoy the conversations between Dr. Harriet Fraad and Julianna Forlano, you’ll also enjoy All Things Co-op. Check out their latest episode, in which they expand on the popular model of socialist utopia in Star Trek and discuss what a future cooperative society could look like without waiting for warp drive.