Unionization 101 – no thanks! On VW’s rejection of the UAW

February 21, 2014


Somewhat wistfully, I have read that Henry Ford and Thomas Edison pitched the purchase/lease of the partially finished Wilson dam and other facilities at Muscle Shoals in 1922 or 1923. Ford stated he wanted to build the “Detroit of the South,” and the South went wild with land speculation.


The only thing holding the deal back, you’d never guess, Nebraska Sen. George W. Norris (R), the so-called savior of the South. In his powerful position in the senate, Norris said he wanted the operation to be run by government, not private enterprise.


Sen. Norris got his way and glommed on to FDR’s (D) plan to governmentize everything in sight. The TVA Act of 1933 was the first thing FDR signed into law to reward Norris the Republican for his support.


Ironically, the VW rejection of the union topped 80 years of government control of the South and it does not bode well for TVA to much longer survive. In another bit of irony, FDR was vehemently opposed to the unionization of public employees (about the only thing that was sensible.) Look at Detroit now and other public entities in deep, deep debt because of union control.


My uncle, a Democrat and former legislator in Alabama, (I loved him dearly,) and I did not see eye-to-eye on unionization primarily from an early experience I had with a labor union. The CWA had some phone installation work in Montgomery and I was hired not really knowing what the union was about. I went to the next union meeting and discovered to my amazement that it did not concern anything about the CWA or its supportive activities but it was a call for felonious acts on company property.


“Who’ll volunteer to cut down telephone poles south of town?” And the calls for malicious action on various other important phone company properties went on until all the “jobs” were filled. Of course, there was the usual call for picketers. I wanted no involvement with that group of anarchists.


Another instance at work dealt with a union member maliciously shorting out a bank of telephone circuits with a long screwdriver (which not could have been done accidentally) and he was summarily fired. But not for long; the union got him reinstated.


Observing the union scene for many years and watching how thugs constantly disrupt business, sub-rosa or out in the open, unions finally drain the substance out of businesses until they go bankrupt, leave the country or stop fighting and close up shop.


FDR was right on one thing, public employees should never be unionized.


Ernest Norsworthy

Limited Government       

TVA – puny outlook at bestMay 6, 2013 Sounds

TVA – puny outlook at best

May 6, 2013


Sounds like even with a cheery note at the end of the conference call on Friday, May 3, CEO Bill Johnson and CFO John Thomas did not make the sale. With many mumbo-jumbo answers by John Thomas, many comparisons that made no difference, the upshot of the entire conference call was moaning about declining sales, sales that cannot sustain TVA costs.


TVA reflects the national economy and the overall economy is trending lower. Why is a shift so important to TVA? There is no “wiggle room” for TVA; it spends all it takes in and relies more and more for the ever-increasing debt to fill the gap. Borrow more, short term or long and it is ultimately the same thing to TVA


Nevertheless, more importantly, TVA’s ratepayers are faced with probable ever-increasing electricity rates, as the mandated $30 billion borrowing cap looms closer. TVA claims their production assets do not exceed their debt, however that cannot be stated with certainty; TVA does not really know what the market will bear. Anyway, bids on TVA’s money producing assets are subject to negotiation.


TVA has proved it is not very good at forecasting (there is no penalty for doing it badly) and has most of the present debt to show for it. The prescient forecaster came from a foreigner, Alexis de Tocqueville, a French political writer and philosopher, effectively pegged what America would be 150 years later.  


Tocqueville, however, did not envision the anomalous TVA. However, he did write about the evils of socialism and how it deprived citizens of their freedom. So, if we open our eyes and ears to how America operates, there should be no problem in liquidating TVA.


Anyway, the upshot of the PR conference was to bemoan a lack of sales and the need for more money. Doesn’t seem like the TVA “model” Chairman Bill Sansom envisioned is working out too well.


Ernest Norsworthy

Limited Government

TVA to meet with Obama soonApril 27, 2013 It

TVA to meet with Obama soon

April 27, 2013

 It is not coincidental that Reuters has stolen a march on TVA media about a meeting soon with the Obama administration. TVA has been jealously guarded and hardly ever is criticized by the local media. CEO Bill Johnson is extremely worried about his job saying, “We want to hold these meetings as quickly as possible to avoid periods of uncertainty,” quoting the Reuters article.

 And that goes for the some 13,000 federal employees who are faced with probable dislocation from their over-priced positions. But TVA carries a lot of baggage from 80 years of pretending it was a regular private-enterprise utility. TVA has confused other federal agencies and in effect, declared itself different, and that it should be handled differently.

 Millions have been spent by TVA defending itself from every imagined lawsuit; TVA has appealed every decision held against them when common sense said many of them should have been settled. There is no “bottom line” for TVA and it competes with private industry at every move.

 Beside artificially warping the economy of the South, it patronizes with its largess in many ways. It just never should have become an operational electricity supplier; it has tried to become a separate entity from the federal government with a set of rules of its own.

 Appealing to the citizens in the TVA territory for decades with its promise of “cheap” electricity, which is no longer true despite its federal advantages, it nonetheless has maintained the myth of cheapness. Many have hardened their belief it is so.

 The burden of TVA’s unbridled spending is on the ratepayers, not the taxpayers. And TVA spending does not go through the natural business filters to determine its economic value typically given to users and stockholders.

 Bill Johnson was right about one thing, there is no way to determine TVA’s market value when TVA has never been valued in the market.

 Ernest Norsworthy

Limited Government



TVA receives unaccounted for GPS moneyApril 24, 2013 It

TVA receives unaccounted for GPS money

April 24, 2013

 It is spring again, and TVA’s Green Power Switch proudly pushes people and businesses out front, exploiting them as trophies. It is a shame they would let themselves be used in such an unseemly manner. The fact is, the Green Power Switch is no more that a way of concealing a fraudulent income to TVA.

 While only a fraction of TVA’s customers have been duped into buying so-called “blocks” of imaginary electricity, the sales are enough to fund some salary and promotion costs of the GPS. TVA says it is not nearly enough and must draw from other fund sources. The blocks of imaginary electricity are for real when it comes to paying for them however, the four bucks or so have to be paid every month; the light bill says so.

 Humm, come to think of it, that kind of encourages payment for the real electricity used. A scam from the start, TVA took advantage of the people’s desire to support so-called green energy and led some of them to believe they could actually receive “green” produced electricity. This was shown in the only very small survey that was taken by the TVA OIG several years ago.

 The OIG will not release the results of that survey or the contents of the questionaire; it is the OIG that reports to the outside auditing GreenEnergy firm, a nonprofit. It took months to receive a copy of what the OIG sent them. It took the FOIA to get it from the OIG. Odd that the OIG is the responsible reporting party but the OIG does not account for the money for the Green Power Switch received and spent.

 The one in charge of TVA’s GPS program, Jenny Wright, responded somewhat to questions but not all. Here is an article for reference http://limitedgovt.sharepoint.com/Pages/TVAs_Green_Power_Switch_a_scam.aspx The problem is that TVA cannot or will not account for all of the Green Power Switch money received from sales of their imaginary electricity.

The last newsletter issued about the Green Power Switch was the “winter 2012”; it is a regurgitation of the latest bit of information from TVA. Trumpeting “old news” is about all TVA can do when it comes to the Green Power Switch, its propaganda value not withstanding.

Tracking the GPS as best as the information allows, only reveals hit-or-miss actual numbers reported by TVA over a number of quarters. Is that one of the reasons TVA has to “subsidize” that failing program?

 But who can quibble with TVA if it still receives unaccounted for money if none of the willing GPS donors to TVA (a federal agency) complain? Speaking for me, I believe it is illegal on its face and it should be stopped immediately.

 Ernest Norsworthy

Limited Government


TVA nuclear – will it ever end?

March 25, 2013

In a one syllable word, “no” and that is by choice and not by chance. Although chances are that there never will be a disaster like the tsunami that crippled Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission continues to use it as a benchmark for safer nuclear plant construction and operation.

Does this mean lower cost of operations? Of course not, increases in these costs making our nuclear reactors safer have multiplied construction and maintenance costs by ten or more in some cases. The Ft. Calhoun nuclear plant in Omaha, Nebraska that was inundated by Missouri River floodwaters several years ago may never become operational again. Even so, the danger of the nuclear fuel or fuel waste will last a thousand years.

Nuclear proponents fail to mention long-term peripheral costs, just the costs of construction and operational maintenance. The upshot of it is that nuclear power is more costly than any present energy source including solar, wind, biodegradable, coal, natural gas, or hydro.

Nuclear “kicks the gas can down the road” for 500 generations and we unwisely leave those costs to them. Nuclear still incorrectly is considered the cheapest form of energy.

TVA over and again has proved how much more nuclear energy costs by a $20 billion debt owed by TVA (oops, I mean (ratepayer’s) for failed nuclear fits and starts began 30 or 40 years ago. And the question must be asked, “If nuclear is so cheap, why hasn’t industry picked up the subsidy slack and started building them for profit?” Nuclear simply is a poor risk that investors avoid.

The risk is not contained in a risk/reward equation alone; the danger to humans is constant and subject to becoming more dangerous at any moment for a thousand years. Somehow the so-called cheap electricity never comes; cooling water is too hot, disposal of fuel wastes, a problem for 50 years, never has been resolved and we seem no closer to the answer than at the start; repairs get more expensive and more extensive to make reactors safer. The nuclear danger is never farther than a moment away. Can generations of humans be relied on to never make a mistake or to keep an ever-watchful eye on our nuclear disasters in the making?

TVA should be moving like Germany toward the complete cessation of the manufacture of nuclear energy. Maybe in some future year the nuclear waste problem will be solved. All we are doing now is exacerbating the problem by adding more and more ever potent waste.

Nevertheless, nuclear disasters will come as sure as this is written and the sun rises tomorrow. We have to stop fooling ourselves that nuclear is cheap and safe when it is just the opposite.

Ernest Norsworthy

Limited Government



TVA – fixing the unfixable?

March 17, 2013

 After 80 years of experiments, Congress has has yet to see that when the federal government tries to duplicate what private industry does, it is bound to fail. Of course, the Tennessee Valley Authority was the Great Experiment in the 1930s. It boggles the mind to see how many iterations TVA has gone thru and still it has been unable to replicate industry results. There is good reason for this…

 TVA says it is “competitive” in the utility business but it is a federal agency, and by its very nature, it is not supposed to compete within our free enterprise system. FDR said something about being fearful and the Congress was also afraid and the New Deal was born; many of those programs later were ruled unconstitutional and Congress for the most part, let them remain so.

 Not so, for TVA, which today provides electricity to about 9 million customers in the southeast blanketing parts of seven states in violation, I believe, of their state sovereignty. The weaknesses of those states are now much improved since the ‘30s and they should recoil from further federal domination. Withdrawal from the requirements of the TVA Act could be done by small changes in state laws, which in effect would make competitive electricity once more available to their citizens. The collection of taxes would again be controlled by the individual states reflecting state requirements, not an artifically derived so-called payment in lieu of taxes.  

 The monoply of the TVA has to be broken to enable free enterprise to again florish in the South and to rekindle the then budding electric utility business of the 1930s. The dominance of federal presence for such a long period has altered the culture of the region from one of independence, which was growing, to a stunted dependence on the federal government.

 Because of the inveiglement of TVA in almost every facet of of southern civil society, looking at the consequences of TVA are hard to swallow. Besides racking up an enormous debt of $30 billion, which presently is hung around the necks of TVA ratepayers, not taxpayers, it is hard for them to see the looming rate increases that must follow. And a look at the dichotomy between the government and private business is just plainly ignored. The revenue to TVA annually is about $10 billion and that money is coveted by the federal government. If that same amount were instead distributed thru the normal business process, each of the states involved would profit for their own citizens instead of pouring it into the amorphous black hole of the TVA.   

 TVA proudly proclaims that it receives no congressional appropriations, that is, it gets no taxpayer money and relies only on income from money received from ratepayers. That is not true if TVA’s backdoor financing is considered the responsibility of American taxpayers. TVA, like the rest of the federal government, seems unable to restrain itself from spending money, as they say, they are unable to repay.

 TVA cannot and should not be “fixed.” It is not a hard choice to make between the federal government and private business; the Constitution is abundantly clear on the issue of electricity control.

 Ernest Norsworthy

Limited Government




TVA – “taxation” without much representation

March 9, 2013

 What is more certain than taxes? Of course, it is more and more taxes. And TVA has screwed up the taxing system in the South big time. When states and communities have to depend on artifically derived taxes from government, you know there is trouble ahead. Tennessee is hit hardest by TVA’s so-called payments in lieu of taxes.

 Not only do these so-called taxes mess up the tax base for communities when TVA changes its payments to them, the amounts of money TVA doles out depends on how electricity is selling in Mississippi or the western tip of Virginia and the rest of TVA’s vast collection area.

 TVA’s plan from the start was to provide these so-called in lieu of tax payments as a kind of “protection money,” money to keep the people from complaining too much by providing them with subsidized electricity, to keep the politicians happy with “slush funds,” as former Ala. Governor Riley called them. This scheme has resulted in endless local discussions about who was to receive TVA’s “free” money that has no strings attached; there is no direct connection between the money they receive and the locality or state.

 Alabama is an example of how brabbling over this money turned into a royal battle between the dry counties, which received no money from taxed liquor revenues of the state controlled liquor stores, and the wet counties that did. Demanding no less attention than from then Gov. George Wallace, George designated a part of Alabama’s share of loot from the TVA to the dry counties, which had no TVA supplied electricity. After all, they received no money from liquor taxes, poor things, so George just dipped into the TVA “free” money. I believe to this day that he pulled off that trick in a spiteful way against the feds. This was a sore spot for decades in Alabama.

 Anyway, a few years ago, because the cities and counties in north Alabama hollered loudly that they were being deprived of their “rightful” TVA money, Alabama changed its law to feed the dry counties from the General Fund and to “give back” the in lieu of tax money to the northern tier of the state, TVA country. The fight continues over who shall get the money that TVA designates is Alabama’s share.

 These kinds of arguments are found all over the 80,000 sq. mi. TVA territory. And as the amount from TVA continues to shrink, the arguments become more intense. This warping of the tax structures of the seven states and many cities and counties involved has left them struggling with uncertain tax income futures. Dozens of legitimate taxing authorities depend on the machinations of TVA’s incorrect method of taxation.

 TVA has caused irreparable damage to southern states taxing entities, which by their very nature are separate and different. Everything fitting the same size is the TVA model. Of course, the solution is to liquidate TVA’s assets and to let normal taxing authorities use their best political judgments. How much states, counties, and local goverments have skewed their present “tax forgiveness” for businesses because of a dependance on TVA’s so-called payments in lieu of taxes is unknown. Likely a considerable amount, it is a subject worth exploring.  

 Ernest Norsworthy

Limited Government