Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Maryland Again

Mark Hyman returns to the topic of Maryland’s energy issues, adding to his previous editorial by simply adding that the bond rating on the company responsible for providing many Marylanders with power has been downgraded by Wall Street because of the crisis.

Everything that was said in response to Hyman’s previous editorial remains true: he’s dealing with a local issue in a national forum, he’s editorializing on behalf of big business when it’s clear that huge energy companies that have monopolies are very much part of the problem (see Enron), and most importantly, he’s echoing the position of Maryland governor Bob Ehrlich without acknowledging that he worked for Ehrlich and that Sinclair has had ongoing ties with the governor.

Hyman also draws a false parallel between the Maryland situation and California, describing the energy crisis in that state in 2001 as simply the result of thoughtless deregulation, ignoring the huge role that corrupt business practices by Enron played in the energy shortages in that state.

The implication of Hyman’s argument is also false: that the only way to protect customers from violent jumps in energy prices is to allow a single company to have a virtual monopoly on supplying energy.

Two other options would be to have publicly-owned utilities (thus taking the profit motive out of the equation) or deregulating in a way that actually brings in competition (the problem in Maryland was that alternative suppliers didn’t move in to compete with the existing behemoth conglomerates producing the state’s energy).

No solution is without its risks and drawbacks, but without being truthful about the full story behind previous energy crises and ignoring all the viable alternatives, Hyman willfully distorts the issue to serve the interests of a political friend and patron.

And that’s The Counterpoint.

Hyman Index: 5.22


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