Is The TVA A-OK?


Columnist Ron Hart, who hails from Tennessee, is proud of the TVA:

In fact, the only government program one might arguably call a success, the Tennessee Valley Authority, was spawned in Tennessee. In an aberrant and odd use of government, the TVA actually produces things Americans need: hydroelectric and nuclear power, fertilizer manufacturing, flood control, recreational lakes, and barge transportation routes. In an Obama-nation where federal power is exerted in legislation that, by the second page, treads on dubious constitutional grounds, the TVA seems overlooked as a government-owned, independent corporation with $11 billion in revenue and an operating income of about $2 billion in 2009.

If Obama does not shut it down for making an evil profit and providing 9 million customers with products they want at competitive prices, the TVA may be the only thing the Federal government has been involved in that actually helps us Americans. The good people of Tennessee were a big part of TVA's success.

His Daily Caller col is actually about a lawn mower race and is filled with good lines ("Atlanta is the 'City Too Busy to Hate,' which leaves it ample time to tax.") Read it all here.

But before you get carried away by the TVA's arguable success like a billion gallons of wet coal ash did when a dike broke in 2008, remember the words of the man who got fired by General Electric for pissing on the Depression-era project in 1962. His name? Ronald Reagan. His rap agin the TVA as delineated in his speech "A Time for Choosing":

One such considered above criticism, sacred as motherhood, is TVA. This program started as a flood control project; the Tennessee Valley was periodically ravaged by destructive floods. The Army Engineers set out to solve this problem. They said that it was possible that once in 500 years there could be a total capacity flood that would inundate some 600,000 acres (2,400 km2). Well, the engineers fixed that. They made a permanent lake which inundated a million acres (4,000 km²). This solved the problem of floods, but the annual interest on the TVA debt is five times as great as the annual flood damage they sought to correct. Of course, you will point out that TVA gets electric power from the impounded waters, and this is true, but today 85 percent of TVA's electricity is generated in coal burning steam plants. Now perhaps you'll charge that I'm overlooking the navigable waterway that was created, providing cheap barge traffic, but the bulk of the freight barged on that waterway is coal being shipped to the TVA steam plants, and the cost of maintaining that channel each year would pay for shipping all of the coal by rail, and there would be money left over.

More here.