[quote]Bill Roberts wrote:
The elegant thing (well, not strikingly so, but somewhat) is that the approach I used above for evaluation is independent of which of these systems is used.
If solar is in fact viable – that is to say, if value output exceeds the value that must be input – then it will happen without requiring advocacy or government support.
Government support works only either to yield malinvestments where value put in is greater than value produced; or to line pockets of the connected at the taxpayer’s cost.[/quote]
I absolutely get where you are coming from. I have made this very argument a hundred(s) of times. The problem is, every time I made that argument I felt a small twinge of hypocrisy.
I think it would be hard for anyone on this board to label me a bleeding heart liberal. I like to think of myself as a centrist, but I realize I lean conservative more often than not. I can’t say that I’ve given this a in depth examination. Just scratched the surface at most. However, here is a possible example to consider.
I am from Tennessee, and while not much above average in my knowledge of history, I am probably more familiar with TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority). Created in 1933 as a part of FDR’s New Deal, TVA transformed Tennessee. The area was particularly hard hit by the depression. In many ways it resembled a third world country. Extreme poverty, widespread disease such as malaria, you name it we had it. TVA’s scope was immense, but perhaps the most dramatic change it effected was the electrification of the region. This brought about a dramatic improvement in the quality of life of virtually all residents, as well as bringing much industry into the area via lots of good cheap electricity.
I know one could argue that those resources could have better been allocated by free enterprise. I am just not sure that such an argument would be honest. The region was particularly suited for hydro electric production. Tennessee in particular has more rivers and dam-able (is this a word?) terrain than any other state. The tremendous amount of electrical production soon became instrumental in national defense and our eventual rise as the Super Power we became. It was TVA electricity that made it possible to produce the quantities of aluminum necessary to build the airplanes that were instrumental in winning WWII. It was huge amounts of TVA electricity that allowed for uranium enrichment at Oak Ridge, TN that would be used in the Manhattan Project.
It is possible that given time that private free enterprise could have enacted these changes more cost effectively. Possible, but not probable. Given the huge capital requirements, not to mention the expediting of legislation that allowed for the grand scale purchasing of land, relocation of populations, rezoning, etc., it is unlikely that any of this would have been accomplished by free enterprise alone.
I know many will chime in that the Fed Gov had no right to forceably purchase most of this land, relocate populations, etc. That is a different argument for another time. What I am contending is that an immense public good was brought about with government support that would most likely not have been possible otherwise. In a sense, it tended and fertilized the soil in which free enterprise was later able to flourish.
In this context, I do not think it unreasonable that the Fed Gov in some way facilitate or subsidize the initial stages of large scale applications of solar energy production. I have not even bothered to mention how many times advocates of American energy independence have lamented the throttling of nuclear energy production in the US by special interests. As much as I am for limited government, I assure you that I want governmental oversight when it comes to nuclear energy.