LeBron James is in the news again. This time, he wasn’t defending the authoritarian regime in China, not because he’s had a change of heart, but because he has a more urgent matter at hand. On Monday morning, he tweeted that he and his family have joined 200,000 Californians in evacuating from wildfires and were looking for shelter.
Despite Pacific Gas and Electric Co., the San Francisco-based utility that provides gas and electricity services to 16 million Californians, shutting off electricity three times in October in the name of preventing wildfires, subjecting millions of Californians to blackouts, wildfires started cropping up in Sonoma County, the famed wine country. So far, the fire reportedly “grew to 85 square miles (220 square kilometers), destroyed 94 buildings, and was threatening 80,000 buildings.” In response to the wildfire threat, California Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency.
PG&E filed for bankruptcy at the beginning of 2019 because it was held responsible for more than two dozen wildfires since 2016 and the financial liability was massive. Of course, the company blames gusty winds for the wildfire threat, but in truth, some of the wildfires were caused by the failure of old power lines that should have been replaced long ago. Is PG&E the poster child for the inevitable failure of capitalism because greedy corporations always prioritize profit over public safety and shortchange their maintenance responsibilities? Hardly.