California is under attack!

While this kind of plunder is routine in California, the birthplace of corporate personhood, things are getting pretty absurd recently with a full scale attack on our lives being waged on multiple fronts.

Energy

PG&E is attempting to put an initiative on the ballot to amend the constitution to protect their monopoly:

SAN FRANCISCO — Pacific Gas & Electric Co. is funding a June ballot initiative that would amend California’s constitution to make it much harder for cities and counties to offer residents another choice for buying their power.

The investor-owned utility, which has about 15 million customers in northern and central California, has already spent $6.5 million on Proposition 16, according to state campaign records. The company is the sole source of the initiative’s funding.

The initiative would require a two-thirds, or super-majority, vote before local governments could create a new form of public power called “community choice aggregation,” or CCA. These public power entities, made possible by state legislation passed in 2002 after the state’s energy crisis, allow cities or counties to buy energy on the wholesale market to sell to residents.

The “state’s energy crisis” being a reference to Enron.   Their argument is the standard against more direct forms of democracy with a revealing little twist:

PG&E says a constitutional amendment is needed to protect taxpayers and ratepayers from possible losses incurred by inexperienced local governments entering the risky power wholesaling business.

The reference to increased costs for ratepayers seems to be a tacit admission that they’ll raise rates on the captive consumer base that stays with them–skipping the initiative and passing on $6.5 million in savings would be unthinkable–to make up for the ones they lose. Nevertheless,  it’s related to us as being the potential result of reckless city councils interfering with a benevolent private monopoly with remarkable ease.

Health Care

Blue Cross raising its rates by approximately 34% was so bad that it made national news and seems to have temporarily backfired on them:

The parent company of Anthem Blue Cross has canceled a meeting next week with investors to review its 2010 financial outlook so that executives can prepare for a congressional hearing into its large rate hikes for individual policyholders in California.

A subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce has called WellPoint Inc. Chief Executive Angela F. Braly to testify Feb. 24 about premium increases of as much as 39% for many of Anthem’s 800,000 individual policyholders in California.

The canceled meeting understandably pissed off their investors a bit, causing their shares to drop by 2.3% today, though they’re still up from a few months ago due to the assurance they have from Congress that no real reform will take place:

In response, they’ve apparently decided to seek more vulnerable prey whose pleas for help are less likely to be heard:

Patients who are covered by Anthem Blue Cross may have trouble finding a physical or occupational therapist who will accept their insurance. A growing number of therapists are rejecting new contracts with Anthem that pay them half of their normal rate. Anthem has offered the new lower-rate contracts to physical, occupational, and speech therapists. The insurer says it’s cutting the reimbursement rate to help control rising health care costs.

Anthem has offered the new lower-rate contracts to physical, occupational, and speech therapists. The insurer says it’s cutting the reimbursement rate to help control rising health care costs.

Water

Senator Feinstein has decided to try and put a brutal end to the ongoing battle to preserve profits for both Central Valley farmers and California’s little known water robber-barons.  For a detailed explanation, check out this article by Yasha Levine at exiled, but it basically works like this:  Stewart Resnick, the politically connected owner of the massive Roll International Corporation, essentially “Enron-ized” a huge share of California’s water:

The story of how the state’s largest water bank — jump-started with $74 million in taxpayer money — ended up as an integral piece of the private empire of Stewart Resnick begins with a lawsuit, or at least the threat of it.

A seven-year drought ending in the early 1990s pitted Southern California water contractors, such as the Metropolitan Water District, against agricultural contractors, such as the Kern County Water Agency. Each region made its case to the state, telling why it deserved to receive the water guaranteed by long-standing contracts. In the drought’s worst years, urban users got 30% of the draw, while Kern farmers received less than 5%.

In 1994, agricultural and urban interests threatened to sue the state for nondelivery. The main parties gathered in a closed-door meeting in Monterey to hash out a settlement. Public interest groups, environmentalists and smaller water contractors — locked out of the meeting — cried foul.

When it was over, the very flow of California water had been redirected.

With the new direction being straight into Resnick’s private control.  This was working out (for him) quite nicely until this year.  The recession and lower than average rainfall have motivated California agribusiness to fight to retain their share of corporate welfare.  Enter Senator Feinstein to play the role of King Solomon in her own very special way:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein ignited a firestorm among fellow California Democrats on Thursday as word spread of her proposal to divert Northern California water to Central Valley farmers.

Feinstein wants to attach the proposal as an amendment to a fast-tracked Senate jobs bill. She is pitching the plan as a jobs measure to address the economic calamity in the Central Valley. It would increase farm water allocations from 10 percent last year to 40 percent this year and next, an amount that farmers say is the bare minimum they need.

Where “farmers” is meant to be understood as agribusiness.

Written by dm