Roll On, Socialism Roll On

I picked up this free environmental magazine called Bear Deluxe published by a group called Orlo. At least, I think it was free. I picked it up at Movie Madness and walked out with it and nobody stopped me. And they don't sell magazines there either. Only movies. And they don't really sell the movies either, they just rent them.

Anyway, the magazine is fairly interesting. There was an article about the impact of the Dalles Dam on Salmon and indigenous tribes. "About" is a pretty loose term, the article wasn't extrordinarily informative. Dam = bad for fish/indians.

Which I'm sure it is, of course. But the article was largely a sentimental reflection on what anybody who cares already knows.

However, it did mention the fact that Woody Guthrie wrote the song, "Roll On Columbia" after being hired to write a song to raise support for the dam by the Bonneville Power Administration for $270.

My cousin, twice-removed, (my Grandfather's cousin) played this song on the guitar recently while I was present. I liked it alot. It has a nice roll to it; a roll apt to the content of the song. The song celebrates Americana ideas of Manifest Destiny, as well as the social improvement projects of the New Deal era.

I don't particularly like the Americana ideals (or ideas) of Manifest Destiny. Actually, I don't like them one bit. But, I do like the social-progress ethics of the Works Progress Administration and other New Deal programs.

These are programs that were critiqued as socialist in their day. They kind of were. But that was good! Hoover's hands-off approach to resolving the depression wasn't going very well, and there wasn't a big ole war yet to jump start the economy. They made a big works project initiative instead of a death project initiative. AWwesome!

An interesting example is the Tennessee Valley Authority, that was involved in building and regulating hydro-electric power, just like the Bonneville Power Administration. But the TVA was a much bigger and more interesting organization than a simple administrating organization of power, it is an Authority.

The Tennessee Valley Authority is a government-formed, federally owned corporation, kind of like Amtrak. But, it controls elements of an area as large as a state, and has government powers like eminent domain (so does the Postal Service). Originally it was designed to boost the economic state of the entire Tennessee Valley area. Now, it pretty much just handles the electricity.

In the Supreme Court case Ashwander v. TVA, the mandate of the TVA was justified. The court case said that the water in a river, the power created by damming the river, and the electricity generated from the power all belong to the United States, regardless of who owns the land bordering the river.

What!?! The potential of power created by liquid flowing due to gravity is owned by the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA! If that wasn't so strange, it would be really awesome.

But anyway, the point is that this is an authority created to harness the potential natural power of a region and administer it to the benefit of the people who live there. No voting, no shareholders, no profit margins. Just wielding power for the people... biatch.

Of course, they probably did some bad to the environment, and in the case of the Pacific Northwest, the indigenous peoples. But those were things that they didn't care about back then. What they did care about was using the power of the government in order to benefit the people, at the expense of the corporations. And it was successful, for the most part.

This is what we need again, NOW. Rather than trying to find cute little combinations of government and business, we need authorities to take control of power and wield it for the people. This is dangerous thinking... RED thinking. And to tell you the truth, I don't like the idea of governments having the ultimate say in things. Governments are notoriously unreliable, and not likely to help the people more than they must. But if we are going to start progressing again past this capitalist era, we are going to have to start somewhere. Progressive projects and administrations instigated by the biggest and most powerful corporation (the US Government) might be the first step towards a transfer of economic power.

Or then again, maybe not.

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