This is not just some abstract force of nature destroying California; it is capitalism destroying our lives and destroying the planet. The different socialist groups and environmental groups, in fact anybody who is alive and breathing, should all come together and hold an emergency protest to make this clear.
Meanwhile, it is starting to seem that PG&E’s power lines were the cause of the Camp Fire. If so, it’s certain that they and their paid corporate politicians in Sacramento will be trying to weasel their way out of making PG&E pay for it. Instead, it will be the rate payers.
For years, PG&E has failed to upgrade its power lines. According to KTVU, by 2016 there was nearly $44 million supposedly meant to pay for putting its power lines underground that remained “unspent”. This money is not tracked. What is tracked, though is PG&E’s executive bonuses. In 2017, PG&E CEO Geisha Williams got a 106% raise, meaning she got $4.2 million that year. She was not alone. PG&E’s president of gas operations got a similar raise, leaving him with nearly $4 million in total compensation.
In case you think that PG&E only spends money on corporate compensation, think again. The San Francisco Chronicle reports, “PG&E spent $4 million to lobby officials and influence campaigns last year, and it was the top spender on lobbying in the state last quarter, when it spent $1.7 million on lobbying, primarily on wildfire issues.” What did they spend that lobbying money for? Well, for one thing, along with the oil and gas companies and agribusiness, they were lobbying against a bill to make the state fossil fuel free as far as energy production by 2045.
We need a public campaign to take PG&E and similar companies under public ownership and under direct control and management of the workers and the rate-payers. As far as compensation – the executives should get exactly what we owe them and not a penny less: Free room and board and free job training… at San Quentin.
Capitalism is destroying our lives and destroying the planet!
Note: for a beginning understanding of how global climate disruption/global warming is causing the drought which is causing these fires, see this article. See our interview on the issue with a homeless Oaklander here.