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Okay, Okay, I’ll Comment

October 4, 2012

Yes, I’ve already said I’m sick of the election.  I was sick of the one two years ago.  I figured I’d make at least one comment today, though, given that everyone’s talking about the debate.  And Ed Morrissey does note the substantive hit that Mitt Romney made on President Obama and his administration that’s worth discussing.

Romney does even better with the green-energy subsidies, comparing them to Obama’s oft-used boogeymen Exxon and Mobile.  The scale for green-energy subsidies is an order of magnitude larger than that of the tax breaks (not subsidies) oil producers get — and as Romney points out, many of them small businesses that produce oil on behalf of or to sell to Exxon, Mobile, and other large entities.  Even if one considers tax breaks a subsidy, the amount of energy produced per subsidy dollar from oil far outstrips that of the green-energy industry.  The latter can’t survive without direct government subsidies, and for decades have promised that mass-produced green energy is just around the corner.  In the meantime, more than a few Obama green-energy subsidy companies have gone out of business and taken taxpayer funds with them.

This is an important distinction.  I do remember when the Bush Administration made a government investment in fuel cell technology, and they were roundly insulted on both sides.  The left said the administration should be focusing on more near-term solutions.  The right said they shouldn’t be spending money at all.  Both sides, in my opinion, were wrong.  Where the government can make a difference is in enabling research for technology that isn’t ready for prime time.  Space travel, for instance, would have never got off the ground (pun intended) without significant investment from the government in rocketry and other areas.  Now there’s a reasonably viable (though still funded by many other governments) business around launching sattelites and the like.

So for energy, government could still need to drive research and investment in things like high-density renewable generation and storage.  Commercial solar?  Nope.  Electric cars?  Haven’t we already found that you can viably produce them if you acutally do it with business sense, a-la Nissan?

So I agree, we need to find ways to advance technology, not agendas.  Hopefully more people get that as a result of the debate.

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