Ward Armstrong, Occupy Wall Street and “No Fault” Liberalism

What does Del. Ward Armstrong have in common with the Occupy Wall Street protestors?  Both are focused on an emotional issue–Appalachian Power’s electric rates and paid college tuition, plus a lot of other stuff that has yet to be determined, respectively–however, both are blaming the wrong institution(s) for causing their problems.

In its lead editorial yesterday, the Wall Street Journal concedes that the protestors “occupying” Zuccotti Park have a legitimate point:

…[T]o the extent that the mainly young demonstrators have a valid complaint, it’s that they are trying to bust their way into an economy where there is one job for every five job-seekers, and where youth unemployment runs north of 18%. That is a cause for frustration, if not outrage. The question is, outrage at whom?

…[I]f anyone in the Occupy Wall Street movement wants an intellectually honest explanation for why they can’t find a job, they might start by considering what happens to an economy when the White House decides to make pinatas out of the financial-services industry…the energy industry…and millionaires and billionaires (who paid 20.4% of all federal income taxes in 2009). And don’t forget the Administration’s rhetorical volleys against individual companies…or various other alleged malefactors of wealth.

Similarly, for residents of the Southside, who have been among the hardest hit in Virginia by the changing economy, rising electric rates are a real and painful problem.  However, their “champion,” Del. Armstrong has–as fellow Bearing Drift contributor Norman Leahy notes–built his argument about ApCo’s “corporate greed” on a tissue of lies.  Why would Del. Armstrong misinterpret facts so he can blame the power company for the higher electric rates?  Probably because it’s easier–and more fashionable in a sluggish economy–to blame corporate “fat cats” for the rate increases than it is to admit that the rate hikes are necessitated largely by his own liberal allies in Washington, with the burdensome environmental regulations they have imposed on energy producers.

In addition to the need to replace aging facilities and infrastructure, energy companies like ApCo and its parent-company AEP

…also are facing more stringent environmental regulations. The Environmental Protection Agency is considering a variety of new rules that would affect electricity generation, essentially forcing utility companies to shutter their coal plants or invest hundreds of millions in scrubbers that remove toxins from the air. Many of these proposed changes are court-ordered and required under the Clean Air Act.

In July, the agency finalized its Cross-State Air Pollution Rule in an effort to cut sulfur-dioxide and nitrogen-oxide emissions…. Earlier this year, the EPA proposed national standards for mercury pollution from power plants. It’s also working on a controversial plan to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant.

In the aforementioned editorial, the Wall Street Journal‘s editorial board also notes that these same EPA standards could force AEP to close 25 more power plants across the U.S.

It must be hard for Del. Armstrong and the Occupiers to admit that the very policies and politicians they have repeatedly supported are largely to blame for causing the problems they are now waging a crusade against, but the sooner they accept the precarious position liberalism has placed our nation in, the sooner we can begin to institute market-based reforms that will put Americans back to work.  Retiring Del. Armstrong on November 8th will be a  huge step in that direction.