One point six Billion dollars. We’ll get into the numbers in detail in a bit, but we’d prefer if you didn’t punch your computer just yet before you hear the details.
Jim Chilsen, Communications Director for Chicago’s Citizen’s Utility Board, a consumer watchdog group dealing with public utilities was adamant the deal would be disastrous to small businesses, fixed income households and working families if Illinois agreed to pay a profitable company $1.6 billion Dollars. The company, Exelon, wants a state bailout that would cost Illinois taxpayers, hit public services and schools, which are already cash strapped and struggling. Chilsen made those comments Saturday on the Revolution and Beer show, heard Saturdays from 11am-1pm on Que4 radio, AM1680.
For the moment forget the purposeful maze of numbers intended to confuse, dilute and distract from the core issue, this is really about market economics and if big business, like Exelon, the parent company of Commonwealth Edison, are far too cozy with government officials to the detriment of the average taxpayer. Business graft advocates like the Illinois Policy Institute regularly argue that all aspects of economics, politics and your kids’ after school bake sale are beholden to these never fully defined market imperatives. Indeed, too many large companies, from coal and oil concerns to banks and public utilities do not live and die by market dynamics, instead they have learned that using the government as a middleman and enforcement mechanism to fill their ever deepening coffers if far more profitable than actually doing business in a fair and real market place.
Think of it this way; it is as if the balloon industry realized that they could no longer compete with those new upstarts, the Wright Brothers and their aero planes. Instead, the balloon industry, unable and unwilling to compete in that changing marketplace went to William McKinley and asked the taxpayers to bail them out. Exelon, still reaping profits from 6 nuclear power facilities in Illinois, sees the writing on the wall about the changing marketplace, but want you to pay for it. They are the balloon people. Use that visual any way you choose.
Now, let’s say the balloon people partied at the same club with ole Bill McKinley. And let’s say that you couldn’t get invited to that club to clean the bathroom. And you definitely can’t get to McKinley to plead your case, but the balloon people can. That might just be enough to make an anarchist go a little crazy. And let’s call this club the Commercial Club. Coincidentally there is a Commercial Club of Chicago. William McKinley isn’t a member, but Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, and Governor Bruce Rauner are, along with the CEO of the Balloo, er, um, Exelon is. Bruce Rauner, critical of untoward influence by unions in negotiating contracts is silent on a rate increase and bail-out bill for Exelon, which is backed by….Exelon!
Speaking of the CEO of Exelon, now for the numbers. First this one; CEO Christopher Crane got a 69% raise last year. Don’t worry, the very sympathetic Chicago Tribune let readers know that “in the Marketplace” Mr. Crane was underpaid, and that part of the raise, giving him a total compensation package of over $17 million, was a correction. Did I mention the Tribune was well represented in the Commercial Club too?
Just as an aside, the average Exelon worker makes annually about $45,000. It would take each of them roughly 380 years to make what Crane takes home in a year. Oh, yeah, they, or you gave him an additional $3 million to keep him around because in a market (there’s that word again) that saw an overall increase last year of 30%, he steered Exelon to a loss of 3.8%. You can see why they wouldn’t want to lose him.
In 2007 Illinois passed the Renewable Portfolio Standard, to much fanfare, parades and fireworks (sic). That legislation mandates that the state’s energy needs should be met by renewable sources, like natural gas, wind and solar. Last week Crane, along with the Koch Brothers and ExxonMobil pressed congress to crush wind power, asking legislators to kill subsidies for wind energy.
“If the government believes that they’re improving the environment by subsidizing wind, they are wrong…It is going to shut nuclear plants down.” He told the Chicago Tribune
Exelon, in a cynical twist of truly comedic irony, says that it is anti-subsidy not anti wind. That disconnect, and hypocrisy highlights a fundamental shortcoming by Exelon. Wind power is not the enemy here, any more than tiny mammals posed a threat to dinosaurs. It is their apparent inability to recognize and adapt to a changing market. In a 2013 article in Forbes Fracking for natural gas was heralding the decline and even eventual demise of Nuclear energy. Investors were realizing that eventuality and fleeing from Nuclear energy. Say what you will about fracking and natural gas, both of which are dangerous to the environment, but they were one of the forces changing the energy market fundamentally.
In may 2014 Revolution and Beer reported on promising and exciting breakthroughs in solar power, in an article titled “Endless Solar! The end of Fracking and Coal.” The piece describes strategies that could transform the nation, provide endless solar power and could spur a renaissance for the big energy companies for distribution. We definitely don’t have the marketing and R and D capabilities of Exelon. Then again what made dinosaurs, dinosaurs was their inability to adapt, except now those dinosaurs sip champagne in exclusive clubs with politicians who can write massive checks from your money.
Listen Saturday’s from 11am-1pm to WC Turck, Brian Murray and guests on Chicago’s real alternative media, AM1680, Q4 radio, streaming at www.que4.org.
WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. He has been called the most dangerous voice on the Left. His new book “A Tragic Fate: is an unflinching look at the events leading up to the shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17.” His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. He partners in a weekly radio show dedicated to issues, society and politics with cohost, activist and artist Brian Murray For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com
The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) is a conservative think tank with offices in Chicago and Springfield, Illinois, and member of the State Policy Network. IPI is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as of 2011. IPI is also a member of ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force and Education Task Force. Senior Budget and Tax Policy Analyst, Amanda Griffin-Johnson, presented model legislation (the “State Employee Health Savings Account Act”) to the HHS task force at ALEC’s 2011 annual meeting. Collin Hitt, Director of Education Policy, is a private sector member of the Education Task Force representing IPI. He sponsored the “Local Government Transparency Act” at the ALEC 2011 States and Nation Policy Summit. In its 2006 annual report the Cato Institute states that it made a grant of $50,000 to the Illinois Policy Institute. The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank founded by Charles G. Koch and funded by the Koch brothers.