Joe’s Journal

Snow day thoughts

Ramblings from an old scribbler
Wed, 03/08/2023 - 7:00am

I know we should look at the good side of things. If March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb. Ya, Ya, Ya.

As I write this episode, I do it as fast as possible. It is Saturday. The winds are howling, bringing us a ton and a half of wet and soggy snow. Couple the white stuff with sharp winds you get downed power lines. That means no power. No power means no computer. No computer means there is no way to write and transmit this column back to the mother ship on Townsend Avenue.

First of all, here is some good news.

Eli Lilly, the Indiana pharmaceutical giant, announced it was cutting the price of insulin to $35, bringing this life-saving soup down from the stratosphere to the point where ordinary people might be able to afford it. I had dinner with friends this weekend. The gracious host was happy with this news as he explained the ins and outs of the insulin game and how it saved him a bundle.

Having become familiar with the outrageous price of certain cancer drugs over the last several years, I sympathize with folks who need the miracles of modern medicine to exist. Some of these magical potions advertised on TV can cost $100,000 a year.

I know Medicare helps us shoulder these costs, and health insurance does too. In fairness, I understand drug pricing is a complex web of rebates and discounts. It seems few pay the full sticker price.

I know the drug companies spend beaucoup bucks to develop new drugs and jigger around the old compounds to make them work better and allow companies to renew the patents. I understand that the pharmacy business is a very, very complicated game.

But, Lilly was the first to market insulin in 1922. You might think they might be able to recoup a lot of their development/research/manufacturing costs in a hundred years. Still, let's have a round of applause for Lilly.

Well, while the power is still on, let me pose a question to you.

If you watch TV at all, you have seen ads urging you to reject a referendum proposal that would create a new entity to buy the state’s two major electric power providers, CMP and Versant. An elected board would manage the new system. They would contract out the operation and maintenance. Strangely, we won’t vote on the referendum question until November. Why are they running the ads in March? I guess the utility companies want to strike first. Maybe they are taking their cue from national politics where the 2024 presidential campaign seems to be gearing up.

This electric power proposal brings several things to mind. Yes, I hate the high electric prices like everyone else. And I worry every time Mother Nature kicks up her heels that the lights will go out.

CMP and Versant carry the electric current to our homes. They don’t create it. Most of the electric current is generated by plants running on natural gas. And much of the worldwide natural gas prices are up because of the war in Ukraine.

You can blame CMP and Versant for a lot, but they have little to do with the biggest European shooting war since 1945.

Second, last Dec. 23, we had a whale of a storm that not only knocked down power lines but also snapped poles. Within hours, CMP workers and contractors had dozens of bucket trucks parked in the small mall lot. Soon, most of us got the lights back on. Most of us thought they did a good job.

Third, those proposing this referendum would have to buy CMP and Versant. The CMP TV ads estimate that would cost some $13 billion. Who do you think would pay off that debt?

It seems to me that every month, I would have to pay the cost of the power, and the transmission line charges, and pay to service the $13 billion debt. There ain’t no free lunch.

Of course, this is not the only additional charge that would be added to our monthly electric bills. You can bet the whole shooting match would be tied up in the courts for years. Somebody has to pay for the lawyers and their bespoke $1,500 suits.

Speaking of lawyers, last week, much of the nation followed the bizarre South Carolina murder trial of a disgraced lawyer and local big shot.

While the testimony was interesting, one fact showed us how our nation has changed. In the low country of rural South Carolina, the heart of the old Confederacy, the judge who sentenced the big shot lawyer to prison for life, and many of the sheriff’s deputies who marched him to jail, were African Americans.