Shoddy; Decidely Shoddy…….

Have you ever wondered why, wherever you travel in America, it looks like an enormous spider has weaved its way across the landscape before you? Cables, cables, cables. Everywhere you look there are cables. Power cables, TV cables, cables for this, cables for that……..America is a land obsessed with cables. And what happens everytime a decent size storm comes along? They all fall down in a hideous, tangled heap, and society crumples as the power goes out and communications equipment gives up the ghost.

America thinks it is obsessed with terrorists. Forget the terrorists. The weather wreaks more havoc on this continent than a whole army of terrorists. America lurches from one weather crisis to the next, and after each catastrophe spends a fortune patching up the damage until the next time.

And that’s the crux of the problem. America does nothing properly. Almost everything about this nation is shoddy. There’s only one thing America does well; marketing its own image to its citizens. Tell John Doe his country is shoddy and far behind much of the rest of the world, and he’ll probably punch you in the mouth. He certainly won’t believe it. That’s understandable. Eighty percent of Americans don’t hold a passport, which means they’ve never been out of the country. They’ve never seen for themselves how much better other nations are at organizing simple matters like power distribution.

The storm that hit Illinois on November 30th will be remembered around here for a very long time. In fact, it wasn’t a storm at all. It just rained for a day, before the temperature suddenly dropped drastically below freezing. The rain froze as it hit the trees, and with the assistance of a strong breeze, caused branches to break away under the weight of ice, carrying away the web of cables beneath them. The result was chaos.

Had the cables been in the proper place – underground – the impact of this “storm” would have been negligible. So why, then, are America’s cables suspended from poles susceptible to severe atmospheric conditions? The answer is as simple as one word: money.

It’s expensive to dig trenches and sink plastic ducting to carry powerlines. Cabling and poles are cheap. Replacing them, while a lengthy process following major outages, and extremely inconvenient – not to say, deadly – to the customer, is not a particularly expensive process. Hence, profits remain high; investors are kept happy; only the customer is inconvenienced.

There lies the crux of the matter. American utility companies don’t give a toss about their customers because in most areas, certainly Illinois, they hold a monopoly. The cost of maintaining infrastructure can be kept to a minimum, prices inflated to a ridiculous degree, and when major storm damage occurs the only loser is the customer.

Of course, they will still spend money telling you how much they care about you, and how you really matter to them.

Are you stupid enough to believe it?

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