The Enduring Lure of (Democratic) Socialism
The Maine referendum initiative that would have nationalized “by right of eminent domain” the private electric transmission and distribution companies in Maine lost by 70% to 30% on Tuesday. According to the “indirect initiated state statute” that provided the full text of the ballot measure, the new state-created, non-profit, consumer-owned corporation, called Pine Tree Power Company,
shall purchase or acquire by the exercise of the right of eminent domain all utility facilities in the State owned or operated or held for future use by any investor-owned transmission and distribution utility, in accordance with this subsection.
Incidentally, the Pine Tree Power Company, would not have been truly “consumer-owned,” because no consumer could have sold his share without moving out of Maine, and then getting nothing for “his” share. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont congressman who remains at the forefront of the proletariat’s liberation, had declared:
Mainers have a rare chance to take control of an important part of their daily lives. Instead of a private power system that last year sent $187 million in profits out of the country, Mainers can have cheaper, more reliable power—and help fight climate change at the same time. I’m proud to support the Pine Tree Power campaign, and I urge Mainers to support it as well.
It is encouraging that 70% of the voters (of those who actually did cast a ballot) have not been bewitched by that siren. It is still disturbing that 30% believe that a state company—even if disguised as “consumer-owned” with a tightly regulated private subcontractor—can be more efficient than private companies. More than a century of grandiose socialist experiments should have put this question to rest.
Ballotpedia, a non-partisan site about voting, further explained (“Maine Question 3, Pine Tree Power Company Initiative (2023),” Ballotpedia):
According to the initiative, the Pine Tree Power company would use its access to low-cost capital and an ability to be managed in a manner that is not focused on ensuring shareholder profits. The measure also included a provision that the Pine Tree Power Company would deliver electricity safely, affordably, and reliably to customers, to assist Maine in meeting and exceeding climate action goals, to improve Maine’s internet connectivity through more affordable access to unserved or underserved parts of the state, to advance economic, environmental and social justice and to benefit company workers and state communities, to provide transparent and accountable governance, and to support Maine’s economic growth.
Only that? What about racial justice, inclusivity, and dental services? Wasn’t the idea that the Pine Tree Power Company would provide social nirvana to Mainers?