Last week millions of people in Texas, the largest energy-producing state in the US, went days without power or heat during a brutal winter storm that killed at least 30 people. This avoidable catastrophe was the result of trusting the market to deliver the public good. 🧵👇
The Texas power system places near total trust in markets. In 1999, the state deregulated its electricity system to a patchwork of private companies. It relies on practically unaccountable and toothless regulatory agencies and voluntary guidelines. 2/11
Private power cos. predictably put short-term profit before investments in the system. Ignoring the advice of federal authorities after a similar 2011 storm, they didn't winterize the power grid. They also neglected to maintain reserves, unlike all other US power systems. 3/11
More than 4.2 million households lost power in temperatures as low as 4 degrees Fahrenheit. At least 30 people in Texas died, including 6 experiencing homelessness. Hundreds more were poisoned by their efforts to keep warm, such as running generators indoors. 4/11
People slept in their cars. Clinics shuttered. People of color and low-income individuals were disproportionately affected, with predominantly Black and Latinx neighborhoods among the first to lose power. 5/11
But the market means some companies will receive an appalling windfall. Sky-high demand during the cold weather drove prices through the roof, and now people who didn't lose power face outrageous energy bills. 6/11
“My savings is gone,” said one Dallas resident who faces a nearly $17,000 bill. In the city of Denton, the rate jumped from less than $24/megawatt hour to $2,400. The city will pay over $207 million for 4 days of power, which is more than it spends in a typical year. 7/11
Yet, ideological commitment to the market remains on full display. Before the lights were even back on, politicians were lying about the cause of the outages and exploring how further deregulation could "help." 8/11
Politicians continue to cast sensible policies that guarantee basic rights but might cut into profits—such as regulation, and taxation—as extreme. Capital-friendly decisions are conveniently, if erroneously, peddled as “win-win” and protective of individual freedoms. 9/11
The catastrophe is yet another harbinger of what climate change may bring. More frequent extreme weather events mean roads, water systems, housing & other essential infrastructure need upgrades. TX shows the folly of relying profit-focused companies to make those changes. 10/11
It doesn’t have to be this way. Here is to hoping we can learn from this crisis. Thinking of the many in Texas who lost someone during this storm. My full take:…

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More from @Rebecca_Riddell

11 Jul 20
How can we square decades of emphasis on 'poverty eradication' with skyrocketing inequality, widespread precarity and now rising global poverty? Covid-19 has merely lifted the lid off a pre-existing pandemic of poverty.

@PhilipGAlston in the @guardian:…
Some highlights*: Until just a few months ago, many were celebrating the imminent end of poverty; now it’s everywhere. How could the poverty narrative have turned on a dime? The explanation is simple. The success story was always highly misleading. 2/11
The World Bank’s flawed and misunderstood poverty benchmark has led to a deceptively positive picture and dangerous complacency with the status quo. The consequences of this highly unrealistic picture of progress against poverty have been devastating. 3/11
Read 11 tweets
22 May 19
We've just released the final report by @Alston_UNSR, the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme #poverty, on his visit to the #UK. The report is available here:…. A few key takeaways:
Some have asked me why a UN expert on #poverty would visit the #UK. Unfortunately, although the UK is the world’s 5th largest economy, 14 million are in poverty, child poverty is rising & predicted to reach 40% by 2021, homelessness is up 60%, and food bank use has skyrocketed.
To understand #poverty in the #UK, you have to look at the massive disinvestment in social support since 2010: the end of a centralized social fund, changes to the ways benefits are capped & calculated that substantially reduce their value, the decimation of civil legal aid, etc.
Read 13 tweets

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