News flash from the 1880s: Tom Edison wants to steal your gas and kerosene lamps. The government is trying to force you to buy Edison’s new-fangled electric light bulbs.
Nothing like that happened 140 years ago, of course. Capitalists ― such as Wall Street’s biggest banker, J.P. Morgan ― saw electricity as something to make profits from.
Utilities were established that sold electric power and rides on electric streetcars. Morgan set up General Electric in 1892.
So why are Fox News and Republican politicians creating such a storm over replacing gas stoves with electric appliances?
It’s estimated that gas stoves are responsible for one out of eight asthma cases in children. Childhood asthma is primarily a disease among poor working-class families.
Gas stoves are also a source of methane, which is poisonous and contributes to climate change. So why isn’t replacing gas stoves as non-controversial as liking apple pie?
Capitalist commentators often described the wholesale destruction of factory jobs as inevitable. What’s so sacred about gas stoves?
Behind the characters in Congress waging this phony “save gas stoves” campaign ― which includes the Democratic senator from West Virginia, Joe Manchin ― is Big Gas.
Big Gas is on a roll. Cutting off Russian natural gas supplies from European markets helped send gas prices through the roof.
Sabotaging the Russian/German Nord Stream gas pipelines under the Baltic Sea was part of this campaign.
Homeowners who heat with gas face a 28% price increase this winter. Again, poor families will suffer most.
Soaring natural gas prices fueled ExxonMobil’s record $19.7 billion in profits during the third quarter of 2022. That’s almost $220 million per day.
One of the most prominent players in Big Gas is the Williams Companies. This outfit sought to build a pipeline carrying fracked gas that would have endangered the Black-majority Far Rockaway community in Queens, New York.
Williams has assets of $48 billion. It moved its headquarters to Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1919. Tulsa was a booming oil city
In 1921, racist white mobs killed hundreds of Black people in Tulsa. The city’s prosperous Black business district, rich in oil assets ― known as “Black Wall Street” ― was burned down. The oil assets were stolen.
The Williams Companies not only need to roll back their prices. Williams needs to pay reparations.
Heat and light are rights!
The billionaire class and their political stooges view the millions of Trump voters as cattle who need to be driven to the polls. So do the talking heads on Fox News.
While rents are skyrocketing and living standards are decreasing, capitalists need phony issues to divert people. Some are openly racist, like the attacks on “critical race theory.” This is really an attempt to stop teaching Black history.
All the noise about “saving” gas stoves is no different than the absurd campaign around light bulbs a decade ago. Later, at issue was gradually replacing incandescent light bulbs with more energy-efficient LED lights.
The race-baiting, woman-hating, now fortunately dead radio host Rush Limbaugh told his millions of listeners that President Obama would steal their light bulbs.
What the Limbaughs and the reactionaries in Congress will never do is attack the profit-hungry gas and electric utilities. Every year, millions of families suffer utility shut-offs, which include cutting off water.
Poor families who suffer electric shut-offs are forced to use dangerous kerosene heaters and candles. Three children under five years old were killed in a 2013 Bronx fire when ConEd shut off the family’s electricity, and a candle overturned.
ConEd executives should have been jailed for this crime.
Almost one-tenth of the human race ― 775 million people ― still lack access to electricity. It took a socialist revolution to bring electricity to all of China’s 1.4 billion people.
As late as the mid-1930s, some 90% of farm families in the United States didn’t have electricity. The private utility outfits weren’t interested.
The working class upsurge in the 1930s included setting up rural electric cooperatives with government loans.
Thomas Edison was a bigot, not a hero. He used the talents of electrical wizards like Lewis Latimer, an African American, and the Serbian-American Nicola Tesla to become rich.
Tesla, whose name is misused by the union-busting Elon Musk, had been a member of the Socialist Labor Party.
The electrical engineer Charles Steinmetz, who set up the first U.S. research laboratory at General Electric, would have laughed at the gas stove campaign. Steinmetz was a socialist who corresponded with Lenin ― the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution ― about electrifying Russia.
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