Of Hell and Cancun
Well, we survived the Great Texas Ice Storm of 2021.
It has been amazing, really. Just days ago, we had neither heat nor lights, we were cuddled up under a down comforter in an attempt to keep warm, we were using candles and LED flashlights to provide some illumination, and we were cooking on the gas stove top which I’d ignite with long wooden fireplace matches. And we were among the lucky ones. We had, at least, some way of getting hot food and tea, which was not true for a lot of Texans, some of whom were without power for literally days.
Oh, and many people didn’t have (some still don’t have) water. They were collecting snow and attempting to boil it over wood fires, some of which they’d fueled with their own smashed wooden furniture. We never had it that bad. We had a “boil order” but at least water was still flowing.
Today, the Monday after the storm, it is 66 degrees outside (I write this at 11 a.m.). The high is expected to be 70. We have power and heat, and the city lifted the boil order on water, and we have been able to bathe. Yesterday (whoo-hoo!) we were even able to get down to Austin to visit the kids. We ate outdoors in their backyard. The sun was shining and there were birds singing...and our Granddaughter, at the wise age of two years, assisted me in opening my (belated) birthday presents. She even let me keep them.
And yet it isn’t. Not entirely for us...we were unharmed, but we are now clearly aware of just how vulnerable we are here...and certainly not for others. There were multiple cold-related deaths over the last week, including of children, and quite a lot of suffering. I fear that many a Texan will never quite be entirely whole after this.
That’s a terrifying thing.
The Great Texas Ice Storm of 2021. Not a fun time.
As a slender reed, I cling to the hope that there will be political consequences. It is clear that our state leadership failed abysmally. It is also clear that the state made decisions about how power was to be sold and generated that, in the long run, benefited a small coterie of well-connected individuals while exposing the rest of us to extraordinary risks.
Further, it is clear that the aforesaid coterie was more than happy to abandon the average Texan to their fate so long as their own comfort and profit was assured. The most famous example of this (though not the only one!) was Senator Ted Cruz’s flight to Cancun. In another state, and another situation, that would have been the end of his career.
Unfortunately, it may not be, given the degree to which Texas has been gerrymandered over the years, and the stubborn and stupid refusal of some Texans to abandon their “team” even when it is clear that the team is not playing for them.
Still, we can but hope that things will be different this time. It is difficult to forgive a man like Ted, particularly when you are cold and hungry, but he is feasting on a beach in the tropical sun.
Repeat: Not a fun time.
Beside...the connections are hard to miss.
Power production and distribution in Texas was structured to benefit a small number of high profile financial firms, notably Goldman, Sachs.
Heidi Cruz is a managing director of Goldman, Sachs.
Heidi Cruz is married to Ted Cruz, who is a Senator from Texas.
Ted and Heidi, and their family were on a plane to Cancun shortly after the power went out in their home state.
They were to stay at the Ritz-Carlton Cancun, where beaches are fine and the tequila is finer.
And all that was happening while children, the aged, and the infirm were dying of hypothermia in the Lone Star State.
In some ways, indeed, there is a lesson here...a lesson not just for Texas, but for the whole country, and, beyond that, the world.
To wit, free enterprise is good...capitalism is good...but when you structure things like the power grid...things which genuinely mean the difference between life and death for the whole community ...in such a way that it vastly benefits the political and economic Elite while disadvantaging everyone else...
You have a serious problem, particularly, but not exclusively, in moments of crisis.
Or to put it all another way…
We have seen the libertarian utopia. Texas has been to Galt’s Gulch…
And it is a horrible place.
Where the rich and the powerful loll about tropical beaches.
While the rest of us die miserably and alone….
…in the cold and the dark.
Until next time,
Onward and upward.
We have seen The Fountainhead. There is no food in it.