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Why Do We STILL Own the Tennessee Valley Authority?

Well WHY?

President Trump mentioned in his nomination acceptance speech Thursday an obscure Federal New deal-era agency that reminded me of my early days in politics (from this Breitbart article):

“When I learned that the Tennessee Valley Authority laid off hundreds of American workers and forced them to train their lower-paid foreign replacements, I promptly removed the Chairman of the Board,” Trump said. “And now, those talented American workers have been re-hired and are back providing power to Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Virginia.”

“They have their old jobs back,” he said.

Here’s my question: Why are we owning a power generating company? (Please Jo Jorgensen, steal my idea!) It’s not a new idea: An early hero of mine: Senator Barry Goldwater called for the privatizing of the Authority in the 1964 election.

The purpose of the Tennessee Valley Authority is to provide electrical power to a region that during the Depression sorely needed it.:

The Tennessee Valley Authority is a corporate agency of the United States that provides electricity for business customers and local power companies serving 10 million people in parts of seven southeastern states. TVA receives no taxpayer funding, deriving virtually all of its revenues from sales of electricity. In addition to operating and investing its revenues in its electric system, TVA provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee River system and assists local power companies and state and local governments with economic development and job creation.

It even has it’s own police force!

Wait for it: The editorial board of the Washington Post agreed with President Obama that the TVA sale ought to be looked into:

Times have changed. Today, President Obama, arguably the biggest proponent of activist government to occupy the White House since Lyndon B. Johnson beat Goldwater, is entertaining TVA privatization. His fiscal 2014 budget notes that “[r]educing or eliminating the Federal Government’s role in programs such as TVA, which have achieved their original objectives and no longer require Federal participation, can help put the Nation on a sustainable fiscal path.” The budget calls for a “strategic review of options” — including selling off all or part of it.

That is enough for me to have to lay down for a few minutes. The evil Post and the former President on the same side as Blogger Sanders? Barry Goldwater, call your office! (That phone bill from heaven might be prohibitive.) Time to lay down again. Maybe I did not read it right? The senator from Tennessee said no way:

The chilliest responses to Mr. Obama’s idea came from Republican lawmakers who represent Southeastern states that enjoy lower-than-average electricity rates, thanks to the TVA. “It’s one more bad idea in a budget full of bad ideas,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.).

If you wait long enough, the hostages love their captors. But there is a principle here. The Federal government ought not be in the business of providing electrical power. I am thankful that FDR did show some concern for the South after being ravaged in an unconstitutional war and occupation and then basically left alone for over a half-century. And I can even see a temporary measure being fine.

Maybe the situation is not so wonderful. See this post from a more clean energy advocacy site:

TVA has long touted and been given congratulations on its low rates. But rates are not the whole picture. As a customer, you pay a bill, not a rate, and bills in our region are among the highest in the nation. You have probably wondered more than once, “Why is my electricity bill so high, and what can I do this month to lower it?”

Rates or bills: A serious study ought to be done to take the TVA private.

But it is time to defund the TVA. Yes even the TVA Police. Take it private. Add to it PBS. Maybe Amtrak. Certainly much of the Federal land in the West (and East, too) that is not necessary. Apply the proceeds to the COVID response debt. Not to the general Treasury. (Remember when the winner of the last three Presidential elections – didn’t win the office – but won the battle for ideas – Ronulus Magnus II said to the famous question – what Federal agency would he cut first after one of two others mentioned some obscure agency: “Let’s start with the departments” and mentioned Education, Energy and Homeland Security and that answer led shortly to the famous “9/11” mini-debate with former Mayor Giuliani.)

By the way, historical footnote (my regular readers know I love historical footnotes and Stan Scott especially will like this one) on the origins of the TVA:

Part of the TVA holdings were bought (at least under threat of eminent domain) from a company named Commonwealth & Southern (sounds like a railroad, doesn’t it!) and the CEO of Commonwealth & Southern was a Hoosier named Wendell Willkie. That’s right. That same Wendell Willkie that switched parties and was the Republican nominee against Roosevelt in 1940. I recommend this book on Willkie and I marvel why this fascinating story hasn’t been made into a movie.

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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