To the editor of THE EAGLE:
The citizens of Northern Berkshire are living in a rapidly declining infrastructure environment. First, a possibly negligent -- and at the very least incompetent -- board of directors declares bankruptcy on behalf of the recently expanded and much-needed full-service North Adams Regional Hospital. Now, National Grid can’t seem to keep the power on. It’s been a disturbing spring and summer so far for the 40,000 or so residents of Adams, North Adams, Williamstown, Clarksburg, Cheshire, Hancock and Florida.
The demise of our regional hospital and our increasingly unreliable power here in Northern Berkshire are related. Massachusetts’ for-profit health care regime requires a full-service hospital like NARH to turn a profit or be closed. Margot Moomaw’s July 6 letter in The Eagle spoke to that issue eloquently. A privatized utility company like National Grid must similarly turn a profit, according to the laws of our so-called free market, otherwise it must, like NARH, declare bankruptcy.
There is an alternative. Health care and electricity are public goods. The for-profit sector of our economy does many things well, but it is clearly not capable of providing these two crucial goods fairly and reliably.
Responsibly serving a community’s needs is not always going to turn a profit, but these needs must nevertheless be served because we owe a duty as citizens of the commonwealth to take care of one another. It’s time to take health care and electric utility service out of private hands and make them publicly owned and publicly accountable.