Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Copper Wire: California Living Through Atlas Shrugged

From a cliff-notes version by Free Republic of the philosophical novel (and maybe I should start using that phrase a lot more lightly, or switch to "precognitive essay"):

In California a copper wire breaks on a Taggart phone line. The last replacement wire has been sold to black marketeers with government connections, and no one will report anything because of possible repercussions from those with pull. An employee calls Dagny in New York to report the break, and Dagny asks Eddie to have their Montana people ship copper wire to California...

...In Montana a copper wire breaks, idling a copper mine adjoining a Taggart spur. The station agent strips out the station wiring and puts the mine back to work. Dagny tells Eddie to send Minnesota’s wire to Montana. Jim has procured every piece of government paperwork to get wire rationed to the railroad, but he hasn’t been able to get the actual wire.

...In the bowels of the Taggart Terminal a copper wire breaks, choking traffic. Dagny receives a call about the wire and leaves the meeting in relief...She sends out a crew to recover whatever copper is available on the Hudson Line despite not having the permission of the Unification Board to abandon it...
And today, from (real-life) California:

ANTIOCH (KCBS) – Copper wire continues to be snatched from the East Bay city of Antioch this year, and that’s translating into a big problem for Pacific Gas and Electric – considering how much the utility relies on the material.

Since the first of the year, 300 power poles have been knocked down in Antioch. The wiring contained on and within the poles was subsequently ripped off.
Stealing copper wire is nothing new, but Antioch police describe the recent spate of incidents unusual.

PG&E, meanwhile, maintains it takes $500 to repair a pole containing just dollars worth of copper.

Copper went for $1.25/lb in 2009, though the market price has since climbed to an estimated $4/lb.

Police have not identified any suspects....


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