GIVE THESE PEOPLE AIR!

Posted in Quick Hits on September 16th, 2013 by Ed

There is a scene in Total Recall (I refuse to see the "remake" and refer, of course, to the 1990 film) wherein a corrupt profiteer named Cohagen shuts off the supply of breathable air to part of a city managed by his corporation to "teach them a lesson" for hiding Arnold Schwarzenegger's character. It provides us with one of the more famously bad Schwarzenegger quotes from his Eighties "I haven't totally mastered English. Or acting." phase: "Give these people air!"

It's no "Get to the choppa!" but it'll do.

We've all realized by now that the 1987 Paul Verhoeven splatter-fest RoboCop was actually a documentary about how Detroit would look in 25 years; there may not be police-robots but Omni Consumer Products is getting ready to take over. I hadn't previously made the connection with Total Recall, though. It didn't seem plausible that some unelected sociopath would be able to turn off public utilities out of spite here in the United States. As a dystopian literary device, sure. But in real life? In the USA?

Well it turns out that last week's power outage in Detroit was done intentionally by the Rick Snyder-appointed "city manager" or someone in that office. It appears that on one of the hottest days of the year, "We did start calling our customers prior to taking them down and asking them to turn off air conditioners, but they weren't responding as fast as we would like them to so we had to send them a strong message by turning the power off." In the video, the speaker laughs a lot while explaining this. The power was down for four hours without warning.

There hasn't been a peep about this from the media, of course. Go ahead, google "Detroit power outage" and see if any major networks or newspapers covered this – despite the fact that the city manager's office explicitly admits responsibility. On video. In fact, if not for the local Fox station in Detroit – oh, delicious irony – it would be as if this never happened.

The city managers are eager to blame the city's power department and infrastructure as a means of hastening the privatization plans. Services are scheduled to be handed over to DTE Energy, because if the last three decades have proven anything it's that corporate control is pure and efficient whereas public control is inherently corrupt.

Just a friendly reminder to keep this in mind when the ALEC-sponsored "financial emergency" bills appear in your state legislature.