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Corporate Murder In Newark, New Jersey

PSEG turns off electric power, killing poor black woman 

A Tale of Corporate Greed and bureaucratic banality of evil

NJ sounding like a failed state

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. ~~~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Awoke to NPR news reports of protests in Iraq – among other things, people are facing record temperatures and they lack electric power.

NPR was quick to blame Iran for turning off the power, while, of course, failing to mention that it was US bombs that destroyed Iraq’s electric grid.

Similar shameful journalistic propaganda is happening in NJ too.

After listening to NPR, reading today’s NJ Spotlight story this morning, I just learned of the murder of a poor black Newark woman named Linda Daniels.

Here’s how NJ Spotlight reporter Tom Johnson casually referred to that murder:

The concerns about high utility bills flared again last week when a Newark woman died after her power was cut off because of an unpaid electric bill to PSE&G, shutting off oxygen that she needed.

A woman did not “die” – she was killed. And that “woman” had a name and she was black and poor.

Johnson’s “reporting” was cowardly and depraved – i.e. a concerns about high utility bills? – but not nearly as morally repugnant and shameful as longtime Star Ledger editorial board member and columnist Tom Moran’s take.

After crying crocodile tears for Ms. Daniels, Moran got down to dollars:

That was no act of God. Electricity rates in New Jersey are among the highest in the country, and one reason is that we lard electric bills with added charges, mostly because raising taxes is a steeper climb, politically, than raising fees.

New Jersey is spending more than $1 billion a year to fight climate change, all financed through regressive electricity bills. Before long, the number could easily reach $2 billion.

So, after this awful death of this good woman, it’s time to take a second look at that. Fighting climate change is imperative. But putting such a heavy cost on the shoulders of people like Linda Daniels is just wrong. …

Gov. Phil Murphy just signed a bill to boost solar subsidies to about $600 million a year, even though our program is the second most wasteful in the nation, measured by the dollar cost of each unit of electricity generated, according to Stefanie Brand, the state’s Ratepayer Advocate.

All that drives up costs for people like Daniels, and it is spinning out of control. Next up is a subsidy for offshore wind.

Did you get that?

A billion dollar corporate utility shutting off power and killing a poor black woman is framed as an issue about spending too much money on climate change.

According to Moran, the causes of this crime – and the correct focus of the story – are not NJ’s laws regarding electric utility shutoff; or PSEG’s shutoff policy and the bureaucratic banality of evil; or PSEG’s lust for even larger obscene corporate profits; or PSEG’s outright murder of this poor woman.

(Or privatization and deregulation of energy – a vital public utility – the source of the problem.)

According to Moran, the fault is that were are spending too much on climate change and what Moran euphemistically refers to as “added charges” on electric bills (he is referring to the Societal Benefits Charge and upcoming new RGGI charges).

Of course, Senate President Sweeney – blood on his hands fresh after leading the most recent mutli-billion dollar PSEG nuke blackmail bailout – piles on:

“I’ve always been nervous about our energy policy, to be honest,” Sweeney says, referring to the add-ons. “If you look at offshore wind, with battery storage, we’re talking about $10 billion, maybe more, to get it up and running.”

Moran then goes even further to basically endorse NJ’s laws and PSEG shutoff policies, while threatening expanded shutoffs:

If that, too, is piled onto electric bills, as planned, then PSE&G is going to be shutting off a lot more families. In 2017, the company shut off 158,000 customers, from a total of about 2 million, according to Brand. PSEG declined to provide numbers, or to say what portion of the cut-offs occurred in Newark.

Instead of condemning PSEG – his former employer, an important fact Moran does not disclose – and calling for Gov. Murphy to impose a moratorium o shutoffs of essential public utilities, for the Attorney General to conduct a murder investigation, and for the legislature to hold oversight hearings, Moran downplays the issue as some minor routine bureaucratic regulatory issue:

In the meantime, the BPU is investigating whether PSE&G broke regulations when they cut off Daniels’ electricity. The company says it had no idea she relied on an oxygen machine and would not comment on regulations that require utilities to check at least twice a year, and to make accommodations for people who are genuinely trying to catch up on their bills.

To ignore corporate greed and murder and shift the focus and blame climate change and renewable energy is obscene and a Big Lie.

Moran has shamed himself beyond repair – he joins fellow market fundamentalist moral monster Neo-liberals like this:

The measurements of the costs of health impairing pollution depends on the foregone earnings from increased morbidity and mortality. From this point of view a given amount of health impairing pollution should be done in the country with the lowest cost, which will be the country with the lowest wages. I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that. Lawrence Summers

We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it? Madeline Albright

We came. We saw. He died.  Hillary Clinton

And I hate to inject science and facts into what is purely a moral issue, see this 2013 post:

And here is the breakdown of the components of a typical residential electric bill. See Table 3 and Figure 26 from Christie BPU Energy Master Plan: Even a math challenged journalist like Moran can see that “add ons” are a small fraction of the typical bill:

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[End note – I grew up with and was a friend of Tommy Moran. We were in all the “smart kids” classes. He played the clarinet and I played trumpet. He saw Traffic in concert in the 8th grade. We both kissed Cathy Rosenthal. My mom served with his dad on the local School Board. He’s a lapsed Catholic. But he’s not only not the kid I knew, but he’s also strayed far from Catholic teachings and the social gospel.]

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