My family and I lived in Houston from January 2000 to February 2016, and in that time we enjoyed multiple Hurricanes, Tropical Storm Floods, an entire year without any appreciable rain (2011). In the years since I left, there were “100 year floods” three times. 

On top of such extremes, there was temperature shifts. Most people are aware of the steamy searing summers, not unlike New Orleans in intensity, but people are always surprised that it gets jarringly cold. We had a superb bougainvillea when we moved and a backyard full of what we thought were fairly robust palms. Then after a few years we hit the first hard freeze, about 15f. It killed one palm, stunted most of the others, and killed the bougainvillea pretty much back to the roots. We also had gigantic Staghorns hung on our fence under the palms, on yard-wide wooden plaques a friend made:  they were bustled off to the garage the moment we got the freeze warning. 

The bougainvillea recovered slowly, the palms were replaced. Then the next hard freeze for several days came. Then the next. Several times in Dallas for work in winter months, I had to deal with what felt like sub-zero temperatures.

Cold is not typical in winter as far south as Houston. Texans, however, always expected an arctic blast at times. Meteorologists always explained it as a cold jet stream excursion. Every time. Many times over the decades.

Today I had to burst out laughing at a quote from one Mr. William Hogan, a Harvard Economist, in the Wall Street Journal:

William Hogan, an energy economist at Harvard University who helped design the Texas market, said this week’s blackouts weren’t indicative of a major design flaw, but rather inevitable imperfections stemming from extraordinary weather challenges.

I dropped my phone laughing folks. The way I read this is “the entire system failing for better part of several days and destroying water distribution for untold thousands, killing many from a single point of failure…” no that’s not a major design flaw.

Texas, the state, is an extraordinary weather challenge even in the decade and a half I lived there. The  iidea that an economist can “design a market” rather than the electrical grid system itself to be resilient to rather mundane weather — sub-freezing in Houston and Dallas and Abilene and Austin and Amarillo isn’t extraordinary, for days at a time, and clearly within the range of possibilities — well here we are! 

I am finding more and more that when there is a catastrophic failure of some kind, that an economist is involved. A medical economist says “let them all get Covid”. An economist says “here’s the perfect electrical grid”. An economist says “cut taxes for the rich”. And we all face the result.

I’m now waiting for an economist to tell us about race, about gender and about schools. That ought to really work out well.

daily kos


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