About that Infrastructure in the Stimulus
We've known for years that the US electrical grid is shaky (east coast blackouts in 2003 and earlier (1969?), rolling brownouts narrowly avoided or actually undertaken in Texas and across the Southwest, and the semi-annual California Power Crisis, with or without Enron. We also know that long-distance transmission wastes power in the form of heat energy (thus the term "hot wire"). We know, too, that overhead transmission lines are dangerous to construction workers and farmers as well as vulnerable to weather-related outage.
What if we had jobs that could not be outsourced? What if we didn't just think outside the box, but completely outside the system? What if we decided to make the entire nation independent of the grid?
What if we decided to switch from long-distance transmission to local plants?
What if we decided to switch from overhead lines to buried utilities along extant rights-of-way (the barrow ditches, here in Texas; elsewhere, I'm not sure what you call that extra 30 feet or so either side of the road-shoulder that belongs to the state or city or whoever owns your stretches of highway/Interstate), a la the original optical-cable installation that made Sprint's landlines so much cooler, back in the 1980s, than AT&T?
Yeah, in urban zones it'd be a pain -- unless you could run the lines inside / alongside existing utilities. Many of the older cities have tunnel systems for sewage already, don't they? How hard would it be to weatherproof your electrical transmission system?
(Side benefit: fewer obstructions for people to whack with out-of-control cars on ice.)
What about creating waterproof conduit -- not necessarily plastic, which nowadays is mostly an import based of evil petroleum, but using, say, locally-obtainable metals processed into piping or locally-obtainable clays processed into ceramic pipe?
What if we decided to invoke anti-trust and national security and use those rules to create (oh, my gawd! they'll be union! danger! danger! danger!) jobs designing, building, maintaining, that infrastructure?
What if we got serious about using alternative and efficient power plants that are NOT subject to market manipulations, NOT subject to bank takeover, NOT subject to Geithner-and-Bernanke's spreadsheets?
At the very least maybe we'd come closer to being able to save some lives -- and if they were "little people," well, what's wrong with that? [Yeah, I'm still on about the death, from hypothermia, in his home, of a 93-year-old WWII veteran after Bay City power company people put a limiter on his electric line).
At the very best, maybe we'd be able to crack the stranglehold "the right people" have on our nation's economy today.
NB: Some of the links I've posted above refer to a single source of information, and yeah, I've included Wikipedia in my references. Laugh all you want. Others take you to a search string, because while there're tons of arguments out there, pro and con, for various sources of energy and various sites for new plants as well as different fuels to produce the electricity --- what there is one simple consensus on is this: without electric power we'd be a nation brought to its knees in a matter of hours, and we're skating on the rim of that danger everyday in the US.