EL&P turns 80: The power industry tackles the 1930s

Part two in the series

By Kathleen Davis, EL&P Associate Editor

May 14, 2002 — The following are two of my favorite snippets from the 1930s. The first is a 1930 New Year’s wish from the magazine staff, the second a portion of a radical and subjective editorial on then Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt’s plea for utility regulation.

Whereas, the year of our Lord, Nineteen Hundred Twenty-nine has just passed, taking with it the opportunity of fulfillment of certain of your aspirations and hopes for that year; and

Whereas, such hopes and aspirations were founded on your desire to perform a greater humanitarian and industrial service to your fellow man; and

Whereas, the year upon which you are embarking must increase your trusts and responsibilities to those you serve; now be it therefore

Our Wish that the year Nineteen Hundred Thirty shall lavish upon you powers to attain insurmountable heights of service and return you a bounteous reward. (EL&P, January 1930)

And from an editorial entitled “Remarks on a Standard Alibi” by 1930s Public Policy Editor, Harper Leech:

Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt of New York in concluding a significant article in the December issue of the Forum – – significant because of the fact that the appearance of the article is also a definite indication that politicians will attempt to make a presidential issue out of federal regulation of electric utilities in 1932 – – says “those who still believe in the basic theory that a public utility is now what it has been always – – a servant of the public providing service without discrimination, at a reasonable rate and for a reasonable return on the investment – – these people ought not to be howled at as Bolsheviks and dangerous radicals; for after all they are seeking only a return to the ancient principles and the protection of the average man and woman in the reasonable enjoyment of social needs.”

Disregarding the obvious unfairness of any such statement of the issue, which is evident because no utility man or corporation disputes the fact that utilities are public servants under just such obligations as are set forth by the governor, the utterance justifies certain other reflections.

Inasmuch as the only possible political issue which can be educed from the public utility industry is that of the opposing theories of socialism and private management, one is entitled to inquire why Governor Roosevelt and the other political gentleman who have of late concerned themselves with the so-called “power question” are so indignant when one ventures to point out the intellectual kinship of their theories with those now favored by the ruling clique in Russia.

Of course no one is silly enough to insinuate that a man of Governor Roosevelt’s intellectual force and clarity entertains any real sympathy for the degenerate social cult which has seized the Asiatic mind of Russia, but on the other hand when the Governor begins to toy with socialistic political theories he should not be so tender about discussion of the company in which he may find himself. . . . (EL&P, January 1930)

Read more….
Part one, the 1920s

More information on EL&P’s 80th anniversary can be found in May’s commemorative issue at http://www.elp.com.

Kathleen Davis is an Associate Editor for Electric, Light & Power Magazine, a PennWell publication. She can be reached at kathleend@pennwell.com.

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