Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Marketplace

When politicians don’t do anything to fix a problem, often the marketplace does it instead. Often the marketplace does it better, although usually slower than government actions. We are seeing the marketplace at work right now as people adjust to the “new normal” of expensive energy.

People are driving less, buying more efficient cars, and industry is working hard to develop new methods of propulsion for cars. General Motors has the Volt, an all-electric car coming out sometime in the future, and hybrids are proliferating. To accelerate the process of becoming not only greener but oil independent as soon as possible, I believe some government intervention is necessary.

Tax incentives and disincentives have been historically used by government to promote social policy. While sales of SUVs and other gas guzzlers are down, a gas guzzler tax would accelerate their demise.

I believe that that government must establish an electrical energy policy that promotes nuclear energy, and tax incentives to rebuild and strengthen our electrical grid. If we’re going to have more and more electric cars, continue to run our electrical appliances and computers, and still want to cut back on carbon emissions, our whole electrical system must be overhauled. I’m of the opinion that nuclear power generation – correctly done, properly controlled, and technical obstacles overcome – is the wave of the future.

Passive energy sources (wind, solar, etc.) will play only a minor part, but of course must be included in the equation. In order to accomplish these goals, this country must overcome two syndromes: the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) syndrome when it comes to wind (it wrecks my view) and nuclear (we’re gonna get fried from the radiation), and this unrealistic fear of nuclear power (we’re gonna die!). Properly done (as the French do it), nuclear power is safe, clean, and reliable.

In the short term, we should not let this country be controlled by a bunch of radical environmentalists. We must drill in new areas to meet domestic demand and stabilize oil prices in this country. Prices won’t come down, but we can slow the increases. We must remember that new drilling, while critical, is merely a stopgap measure until we start using less petroleum and become oil independent.

In conclusion, I believe the marketplace and wise government policy (and not bowing to special interests) will get this country back on track. If not, then God help us.

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