The East Coast blackout seemed to be straight out Atlas Shrugged: 60 million people without electricity and the official reaction was that things worked like they were supposed to!

I just had to verify that the New York Times editorial on the subject was a call for more government control — and, of course, it was.

[T]he grid is so complex — with hundreds of companies operating power plants or transmission lines around the country — that it is extremely difficult to coordinate actions quickly.

The North American Electric Reliability Council, which was set up after the 1965 blackout to help prevent a recurrence, has only the power of persuasion. The investigations into this latest blackout must examine not only the technical factors that allowed it to happen but also whether the government needs to step in to ensure the reliability of the nation’s power supply.

Oh, yes, the standard statist argument: the free market is “so complex — with hundreds of companies,” a government Council that “only has the power of persuasion” — as opposed to the power of the gun, which is what it really needs.

The U.S. power industry is anything but free market: it is heavily regulated and its prices are controlled by various governments. Only a heavily regulated, price controlled industry would rely on “mostly on 1950’s-era technology.” You can bet that Canada’s power industry is even more regulated. Little good that did.

If our power industry were truly free market we would probably have virtually free sources of power: small, safe, radioactive power generators in our homes or neighborhoods. Whatever we would have had, it would be better, cheaper, safer, and decidedly not 1950s technology. Only governments, and the industries they control, get away with that.

America has never been more vulnerable than Friday because there was virtually no means to communicate. Even the NYPD’s radios were down. What a lesson for our terrorist enemies: our power grid is so fragile that one good attack could wipe out twenty percent of this country’s activities.

From Cox and Forkum:

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Charles Josh