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February 07, 2005



Is the Tennessee Valley Authority ("TVA") no longer in the business of producing and selling electricity?

I don't see it mentioned in this other article:


I don't recognize the name of the Georgia-based regional agency that this article mentions.

I wonder if some kind of reorganization in TVA occurred, so that the proposal would affect people in the TVA area via that Georgia agency.

It is ironic, isn't it? Socialism is based on the idea that the government ought to own the means of production. Government (starting with the New Deal, I suppose) built and still owns the hydroelectric dams that provide most of the power to agencies like BPA. (I recall seeing somewhere that TVA was using a lot of coal-fired plants at one time a few years ago, but don't know if they still do.)

Now, the question is whether the people who live where the government owns the means of production should enjoy a "nonprofit" electricity rate, while their fellow citizens elsewhere pay market rates.

How many of the people who claim to hate socialism will nevertheless howl with rage at the idea that their electricity rates would rise?


to be precise, ownership of production is a fundament of pure communism, not socialism--certainly not the "Western" socialism of Europe. But certainly shared public power is a socialistic enterprise, and I think it's a damn good one. Are you watching the PGE sale closely? Interesting to see who comes out on which side there.

You really want to freak some people out, tell them the Federal Reserve is socialism. (Well, out here actually some of the more rustic folks DO say that. There's a guy near my shopping center with a big "US out of UN" sign--"they want to take our guns!" LOL)


Ah crap--the whole point I wanted to respond was to say that TVA's system was apparently not affected. I'd say it was blue state revenge, but how to explain Utah and Idaho?
Montana at least has the Dem Gov and they don't like his Social Security plans; Nevada has Reid.


"to be precise ownership of production is...communism, not socialism" -- huh?

I just looked in my dictionary, so you had me going there for a moment.

It's too bad there's no such word as "gullible," 'cause it would have applied to me as I doubted my knowledge of what socialism is all about.

I don't believe the market-rate electricity sales could be a plan to get revenge on the blue states, since the entire southeast is "red state" territory -- and the Georgia-based agency surely sells power to people in the southeast.

If you look at the names and locations of the other agencies which would be affected, I think you'll be able to see a lot of "red states" would be affected:

"...the Colorado-based Western Area Power Administration; Georgia-based Southeastern Power Administration; and Oklahoma-based Southwestern Power Administration."


the blue state thing was a joke.

But I wasn't kidding--ownership of production is not a necessary function of modern socialism. Perhaps you should go back to doubting what you know?

north clark county

After my many comments here and elsewhere about the governor's race, that's just an interest of mine. This issue is my career. I worked in BPA rates for 14 years before going into private consulting on the same issues.

TVA is a federal corporation, much like the Postal Service or Amtrak. They are chartered by the government, but not funded or under control of the government.

BPA is one of six Power Marketing Agencies that are a part of the Department of Energy. The PMAs market the energy produced at federal dams. (TVA does that, as well as own nuclear and coal generation.) BPA is distinctive among the six because they are not funded by appropriations by Congress. The other five submit their collected revenues to the Treasury and recieve their appropriated funds from the Treasury.

BPA is required to be self-financing. The rates that BPA charges goes into their own account to pay their own expenses. To say that BPA get government subsidies depends on how one defines subsidies. No taxpayer dollars go to BPA. However, BPA can only obtain debt financing from the Treasury, at rates somewhat higher than Treasury rates. So the subsidies to BPA take the form of government financing rates rather than private market rates. Some of it at very low rates because the dams were built many years ago.

BPA's rate are set to cover their annual expenses including interest on debt, plus to repay the portion of borrowed Treasury money that is due that particular year.

Finally, this is maybe the 10th time an issue like this has come up in a president's budget. It started with Reagan and continued with Bush and Clinton. It's not a new proposal, just hasn't been floated for a while. We certainly didn't hear it when BPA's rates were above market rates two years ago. Many changes will have to be addressed if this plan goes forward, because any excess revenues BPA collects does not automatically go to the Treasury. If that isn't changed, what good will it do the federal budget.



You seem to have decided to change the tenets of socialism, but still call what you've invented "socialism."

Why not just call your idea of "modern socialism" "collectivism" or some other generic term that conveys the meaning you intend? You haven't stated what you believe is the gist of your "modern socialism," but I would bet it is little more than an ideology that calls for the ants to feed the grasshoppers.


Micajah--I believe I have referred to what I'm talking about: modern European Socialism, based largely on the Frankfurt conventions agreed upon in 1951. Here is the latest policy statement of the European Socialist Parties:


NCC--thank you VERY much for a good rundown on the BPA. Wherever you are on the internet, somebody is an expert on whatever you're talking about. :)

north clark county

"Wherever you are on the internet, somebody is an expert on whatever you're talking about."

Interesting how that works, isn't it. I'm also an economist by training, but I'm not about to step into the "ownership of the means of production" thing going on between the two of you (both of whom I respect as strong communicators of your views).



Well, I couldn't find the Socialist International's Frankfurt Declaration of 1951. I found only a reference to its adoption of an idea called the "social market economy."

The 1989 Stockholm Declaration is available. It mentions "property" only once -- and only in the context of "socialization and public property," not "private property."

Perhaps you're reading into the mention of a "mixed economy" the idea that some private property would exist, but I see nothing to indicate to what extent it would. It seems apparent from the Stockholm Declaration that government control of the market is the paramount idea. Perhaps it's like the National Socialist economic idea: respect for private property so long as the owners do with that property what the government wants them to do.


Declaration of Principles
Adopted by the XVIII Congress, Stockholm, June 1989

9. Faced with such crucial issues, the Socialist International reaffirms its fundamental beliefs. It is committed, as ever, to the democratisation on a global scale of economic, social and political power structures. The same principles and political commitments which socialism has always held have to be attained in a world that has changed radically since the Frankfurt Declaration of 1951.

60. The democratic socialist movement continues to advocate both socialisation and public property within the framework of a mixed economy. It is clear that the internationalisation of the economy and the global technological revolution make democratic control more important than ever. But social control of the economy is a goal that can be achieved through a wide range of economic means according to time and place, including....

I continue to believe that you have invented your own idea of socialism. Have you read about Bismarck's conception of the "welfare state" which would ameliorate the harshest consequences of a free market capitalist economy? Perhaps that's what you have in mind.

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