I Love Lucy and the Cooperative Movement
Call me old fashioned, but I’ve seen my fair share of the “I Love Lucy Show”. The show remains one of the funniest and most iconic shows ever made. Remember when Lucy ran for Club President against her best friend Ethel? It got downright nasty between the two friends, with their husbands each getting in the middle of the election. There were bribes exchanging hands between club members and name calling between the candidates. I guess it goes to show that dirty politics isn’t something new.
Despite all the negativity surrounding today’s politics, we must remain engaged in the process. We must find a way to look past the shallow talk and look at the actual issues that affect our daily life. The reality is that our vote matters and it does have an impact on your daily life. In fact, the ability to provide power to your home was born in politics during the 1930’s.
At that time, rural areas across the country struggled for access to electricity that had been powering the neighboring towns and cities for decades. Electric providers did not want to extend service to these areas because the return on investment was not favorable. The first major piece of legislation to help electrify the countryside was the formation of the Rural Electric Administration (REA) in 1935. Then in 1936 the Rural Electrification Act was passed establishing a lending program, available to all electrical providers. Funding requests poured in from farmer-based cooperatives and the REA soon realized that electric cooperative would be the entities to make rural electrification a reality. At that time, only 10% of rural America had access to electricity. With these two acts, things would change for rural America.
1937 was a big year for Union County. That year, the REA drafted the Electric Cooperative Corporation Act, which was a model law that states could adopt to enable the formation and operation of not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives. Union County Electric Cooperative was established in 1937 and began building out infrastructure to provide electrical service to rural members. Rural families now had the same opportunities as their counterparts in town had. They could now have access to what was once considered a luxury.
It’s hard for us to imagine days when electricity was a luxury. I’m sitting in an office with a computer that has multiple monitors and plenty of light to see what I’m reading. We have a heat pump keeping the temperature comfortable while my cell phone is on a wireless charger and streaming music from Spotify to a Bluetooth speaker. This wasn’t imaginable 85 years ago when the REA was trying to electrify underserved area. Those farmers simply wanted the luxury of an electric washing machine. What was once a luxury is now our common everyday life.
So as this election season comes to an end, remember how blessed we are to live in a country that allows us to freely vote. We have the freedom to identify a problem and work to solve it. While it doesn’t always seem like it, each vote matters. We are fortunate that our local representatives are all upstanding individuals who honestly work to solve problems after giving the issue thoughtful consideration. I encourage you to research the issues of importance to you before you cast your vote on November 3rd.
I don’t want to spoil the outcome of the Lucy and Ethel battle for Club President. But in the end, they figured out a way to work together. Hopefully after this election, both parties will be able to use the example from a 1950’s TV show for inspiration and figure out how to work together. A little sense of humor wouldn’t hurt either.