Stewardship, or micromanagement?
Jan 24, 2012 | 1755 views | 0 0 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Franklin Roosevelt’s Tennessee Valley Authority ruffled plenty of feathers in the 1930s when it began acquiring private land and submerging it beneath reservoirs as a series of dams were built along the Tennessee River.

It’s difficult to seriously challenge the public good that came of the project, when you consider the control of seasonal flood waters, the large-scale eradication of mosquitoes and the diseases they spread and the introduction of electric power to rural areas via hydroelectric generating stations incorporated into the dams.

Oh, and there was the creation of thousands of jobs, sorely needed as America wrestled with the Great Depression.

To be sure, there was plenty of support for the TVA and all that it did for the region.

But it would be naïve to think there was no reason to oppose what TVA stood for and proposed to do. And many families and individuals, offended that they were being ordered to leave their homes by the federal government to make room for a lake, opposed it.

Much has changed since 1933. TVA is no longer a federal government entity per se, but rather a public corporation whose mission is producing and selling energy. It receives no appropriated funds, and it is no longer subject to Congressional oversight in its operation.

But it’s still ruffling feathers.

This time, it’s not appropriating private land; it’s tightening its control of private business with a plan, announced more than a year ago, to change the way it regulates privately owned marinas and campgrounds on lands bordering the lakes created by all those dams.

Many campground owners fear the fee increases that are supposed to take effect in January 2013 will put them out of business.

Others are concerned that a TVA objection to “annual” tenants – those who want to lease a campsite, park a travel trailer on that site and leave it to come and use during vacation time – will seriously erode their business and their ability to provide a service for which there is a demand.

Some say they have already lost customers. More importantly, many are afraid they’re going to lose more than that.

It is TVA’s duty to oversee the lands bordering its reservoirs and ensure that this public resource is available to all the public wishing to access it, but in an era of rampant big-government intrusion and overreach, in a time of fragile economy, TVA’s fee-increasing and regulation-tightening smack of micromanagement.

Is this system truly broken? Does it really need the “fixing” TVA is prescribing?

It would be nice to see stronger defense of such an argument. Right now, it’s more of a big government “because we say so.”

Here’s hoping it doesn’t do a whole lot more harm than good.
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