Friday, October 16, 2009

Editorial: SRP profligacy no real surprise

And the unnamed Courier editor's petty outrage is no surprise, either. But seriously, so what?

The editor fulminates breathlessly about executives of a big, overprivileged corporation throwing money around as if it's news. Sorry, editor, that's the norm in this country, and a large proportion of our voters are so used to it that they'll defend to the death a rich guy's right to spend the shareholders' dividends and the employee pension fund on whatever makes him happy, simply because that's how we measure success, after all.

I'd love to see the editor extend this logically and point out how drug and health-insurance companies hold us all hostage to their expense accounts, or how arms manufacturers find ways to gin up convenient wars. The editor might even find some common ground with Michael Moore on this if he were to really think it through.

But that's a forlorn hope. The editor is only peeved that SRP, using entirely legal means, is slowing down a certain massive public-works boondoggle that the editor thinks is a Good Thing. So he undertakes the only political tactic he can remember, which is to smear the opponent in hopes of making ill-informed people mad. This worked so well for Karl Rove, after all. Unfortunately all the public outrage in the world would have exactly zero effect on SRP. The company simply does not care, and it's above regulation.

I'm no fan of SRP, and I'm looking forward to the day the Legislature gathers enough political will to begin limiting the company's purview and power. So rather than sling gratuitous mud at SRP, I suggest that the editor put some effort into research on why the company's constitutionally secure position is a Bad Thing and what we can all do about it.


Gary Beverly said...

Steve: Great web site and blog. Thanks for doing this. As for your comment: As an environmentalist, I am acutely aware that SRP definitely has its flaws and problems, and that it has previously caused considerable environmental damage through dams, power plants, etc. However, us environmentalists have to partner with those that can help us when we can; I'm pragmatic. SRP has demonstrated substantial environmental responsibility (surprise!) on the Verde above Horseshoe Dam. We feel pretty lucky to have an 800 lb gorilla on our team, For now. Later, we may be on different sides - I'll worry about that later.

Steven Ayres said...

Thanks, Gary. I know, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend," right? I just don't think we should ever count on any corporate interest to help preserve human values in a conflict. Corporations are fundamentally different organisms, and while individual humans within them can sometimes make a difference, they are generally subsumed by the corporation's amoral nature. SRP's apparent "responsibility" in certain cases can be readily interpreted as well within the standard motivation -- seeking food (money), in this case by mollifying its food providers (the public) by putting out a little food that doesn't matter (bait). Watch your back. That beast is hungry.

Gary Beverly said...

Steve: This is not a "enemy of my enemy..." situation. Rather, SRP's interests in preserving the base flow of the Verde River are coincident with environmentalists. SRP wants water to flow because they have instream flow rights, and because they have contractual environmental commitments to the USFWS as part of a Habitat Conservation Plan. Theoretically, corporations act only to further the economic - not moral - interests of their shareholders and that is exactly what SRP is doing here. Realistically, these days many corporations act to line the bosses pockets, but that's another discussion. We are all lucky that this one time the interests of the gorilla and the River are aligned.