Cheap Energy ... And Not

Since a picture is worth 1000 words, I give you this (324 words follow):

The article is link. It is an opinion article, but I did a quick check of the background source, and the chart and information seem to be in order. I invite you to do the same due diligence. You can find more link text
The important line from a new DOE report is that "Relative to their share of total electricity generation, renewables received a large share of direct federal subsidies and support in FY 2010. For example, renewable fuels accounted for 10.3 percent of total generation, while they received 55.3 percent of federal subsidies and support."

I think that alternative power, such as hydro and wind will - and should - play a growing role in our energy mix in the long term, but in the near and middle term the saving fuel is natural gas. The U.S. is already the world's largest producer of natural gas and new techniques of extraction has given us vast newly available reserves that can be accessed cheaply creating lots of American jobs. Gas is the cleanest of fossil fuels and actually produces almost no pollution other than CO2, which you also produced - probably along with some methane - in the minutes you spent reading this.

IMO - natural gas is the perfect transition fuel, a bridge to a cleaner energy future. It is American, widely distributed, easy to tap, near places where it can be used and cleaner burning than any other fossil fuel. It is as near as anybody can come to a gift from God (or nature or random chance as you prefer) as we could hope for. Even the Obama Administration has recognized its value AND it requires very little subsidy, as the chart shows.

It is odd that we have the solution dropped into our hands and some people still want to reject it. Why don't we just shout hallelujah and take advantage what God and American ingenuity have given us.

Posted by Christine & John at September 28, 2011 9:33 PM
Comments
Comment #329890

C&J, what makes you think the goal of democrats is to free us from fossel fuel. The goal is to shut down the economy and business, leading to more unemployment. The Obama administration and the democrats have done nothing that would lead to any type of recovery.

Posted by: Tim at September 28, 2011 10:01 PM
Comment #329892

If the facts of my graphic are right, your friend from the American Enterprise Institute are pushing a pennywise, pound foolish sentiment, especially if you look at the long term.

Fact is, while current subsidies are high for solar, because it’s just getting off the ground. But in absolute dollar terms, your friends in the fossil fuel industry are getting much more support, despite their profitability.

You don’t get something for nothing, but some deals are better than others. A homeowner who buys some gas will have to pay some more for it later. A person who buys a solar panel, say, from Westinghouse, gets it under a two decade warranty, and will see their bill reduced over time, for their investment.

Solar is also getting cheaper on its own. That’s one of the big reasons Solyndra went under. It wasn’t that their technology was bad, Thin film CIGS solar cells just got outcompeted by Polycrystalline Silicon cells for cheapness of manufacture.

The question is, who will make those panels? Your friends at the AEI would rather it be somebody else, so their friends in the fossil-fuel industry can continue to reap their profits.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 29, 2011 12:24 AM
Comment #329893

Tim-
Oh, yes, unemployment is just working like such a charm for us. By the way, we’ve been in a kind of recovery for a little while, so what do Republicans do to celebrate? Stifle more of the same economic medicine, and lay off hundreds of thousands of government workers to boot. Can you say fiscal drag? Goldman Sachs can. The capitalists there look at your plans and see more unemployment and less economic growth on its account.

Ah, but if they’re not saying what you want to hear, they’re just class traitors and liberals, right?

Like so many, you just don’t realize how absurd your picture of Democrats is.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 29, 2011 12:27 AM
Comment #329898

Stephen Daugherty, we are not in any kind of recovery. Why do you on the left continue to try to spread this crap? If government employee’s jobs are being cut, it is because they are not needed. The left has no concept of business and Obama and company is a bad investor of the tax payer’s money. Solyndra is just an example, and Obama has just two days to dump more tax dollars into green energy before it expires. $700+ million now to a green company in Nevada, which just by chance, has Pelosi’s brother-in-law as the second in command on the board. Stephen, since you are in denial that Obama has actually damaged the fossle fuel industry and since you want to blame Republicans for the loss of government jobs, perhaps you could explain to us how many jobs in the energy field have been lost as the result of Obama’s choice to shut down fossle fuel?

Everyone agrees that America needs jobs. Obama’s green investments have lost jobs in the fossle fuel industry and wasted money in the solar industry. If Obama was serious about creating jobs, he would not treat the fossle fuel industry as the enemy. But one has to come to the conclusion that Obama is either ignorant, or he is intentionally trying to hurt America:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/merrillmatthews/2011/09/22/obama-ignores-the-fastest-way-to-create-jobs/

Posted by: Tim at September 29, 2011 8:50 AM
Comment #329901

Tim-

Stephen Daugherty, we are not in any kind of recovery.

We were getting jobs back. Check the BLS stats. We were getting growth back. Check the BEA stats. Unemployment was going down. Check the BLS stats, again.

Why do you on the left continue to try to spread this crap?

Because we think it’s true?

The left has no concept of business and Obama and company is a bad investor of the tax payer’s money.

That’s why business prospered under Clinton and tanked under Bush, right?

Look, let’s skip all your unsubstantiated claims and just get to the heart of the matter: No matter how you try to dress them up, your methods for creating jobs are the old methods, and the old methods didn’t work like promised.

Now you can throw around all this cheap rhetoric about Obama “intentionally trying to hurt America”, but the truth is, Solyndra had a great product that was simply made obsolete, and from the looks of it, leadership that wasn’t exactly stocked from the sharpest tool section of the hardware store.

But concerning the programe in question, Solyndra had merely 1.3% of the loan guarantees. You show me somebody in the private sector who chooses 98.7% of his investments right, and I’ll show you a very popular fellow on Wall Street.

As for losing jobs in the Petroleum industry? Not really. By all accounts, despite all the job-killing you allege of Obama, the industry’s in a boom and jobs are plentiful. Jobs have also INCREASED in the Solar Power business, and elsewhere. So, could you explain what lead you to your conclusions, or have you just been listening to somebody else spout about how terrible Obama’s policies have been without doing your own research?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 29, 2011 2:07 PM
Comment #329902

SD

Where do you get this tripe? We are in a boom? The only boom we are in is the fart in your pants.

The Solyndra may be only a 1.3% of the loans. I don’t know and will take your word for it. The problem is that there were red flags all over the place about this being a risky loan. Rating companies rated Solyndra not in a very favorable way. Those who do the analysis on who does and who doesn’t get the loans had other motives for granting this loan.

You in a very biased way tried to portray the company as having a ton of republican lobbyists but fail to reveal some of the democrat lobbyists.

Here are three of the top lobbyists at Solyndra. They are former democrat aides to high ranking democrats.

Steve McBee (appropriations staffer)
Gregg Rothschild (John Kerry aide)
Andy Quinn (Steny Hoyer’s chief of staff)

You want more, they are there and easy to find.

One of the biggest problems here is that someone did not do the proper work to check out Solyndra to see what there financial picture looked like.

You keep going to the talking point of technology. That is just something to make conversation over. You know that and you still put forth a defense that will get a sure conviction.

Maranatha

Posted by: tom humes at September 29, 2011 2:30 PM
Comment #329904

Here’s a horrific story about green energy gone insane.

“This desecration, in the name of “green” energy, is taking place in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom on one of the largest tracts of private wild land in the state. Here and in other places — in Maine and off Cape Cod, for instance — the allure of wind power threatens to destroy environmentally sensitive landscapes.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/29/opinion/the-not-so-green-mountains.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha212

I believe we have merely revealed the tip of the iceberg, with the Solyndra debacle, when it comes to taxpayer money squandered on the special interest groups advocating more solar and wind power generation.

If one follows the money, starting with algore and a few others, it can be readily seen who is benefiting. Much of the so-called scientific evidence of MMGW comes from those who depend upon government grants for their existence and the UN panel on global warming which is the least trusted world organization for accurate and honest reporting.

First, create a crisis, give it a scary name, get some scientific types to agree by pandering to their greed, then hype the hell out of it. Second, bribe influential politicians to put forward plans for government to spend money to combat the crisis. Third, once the money is available, funnel it to political favorites.

I have come to the conclusion that MMGW is one giant financial scheme to plunder Americans pockets. Of course, liberals and progressives are sucked into the scheme as they can’t think beyond the latest bulletin from their leaders. And, I believe for most of them, little concern about cost and fraud is expressed as it doesn’t hit their pocketbook. And, it gives them an excuse to bash big oil, wall street, and all the other “bad guys” who haunt their dreams.

Posted by: Royal Flush at September 29, 2011 3:18 PM
Comment #329906

C&J,

From you EIA link:

This report only includes subsidies meeting the following criteria: they are provided by the federal government, they provide a financial benefit with an identifiable FY 2010 federal budget impact, and, they are specifically
targeted at energy. These criteria, particularly the energy-specific requirement, exclude some subsidies that benefit the energy sector. Some of the subsidies excluded from this analysis are discussed below.

In other words, indirect subsidies were not included in they study, which is a gigantic oversight. No attempt was made to ascertain the external costs of fossil fuel use, which amounts to a subsidy far larger than any of those examined by the EIA. According to the EIA, renewables received about 15 billion dollars in subsidies. According to the USNAS:

The damages the committee was able to quantify were an estimated $120 billion in the U.S. in 2005, a number that reflects primarily health damages from air pollution associated with electricity generation and motor vehicle transportation. The figure does not include damages from climate change, harm to ecosystems, effects of some air pollutants such as mercury, and risks to national security, which the report examines but does not monetize.

Posted by: Warped Reality at September 29, 2011 3:41 PM
Comment #329907
If one follows the money, starting with algore and a few others, it can be readily seen who is benefiting. Much of the so-called scientific evidence of MMGW comes from those who depend upon government grants for their existence and the UN panel on global warming which is the least trusted world organization for accurate and honest reporting.

First, create a crisis, give it a scary name, get some scientific types to agree by pandering to their greed, then hype the hell out of it. Second, bribe influential politicians to put forward plans for government to spend money to combat the crisis. Third, once the money is available, funnel it to political favorites.

I have come to the conclusion that MMGW is one giant financial scheme to plunder Americans pockets. Of course, liberals and progressives are sucked into the scheme as they can’t think beyond the latest bulletin from their leaders. And, I believe for most of them, little concern about cost and fraud is expressed as it doesn’t hit their pocketbook. And, it gives them an excuse to bash big oil, wall street, and all the other “bad guys” who haunt their dreams.

So when do Joseph Fourier and Svante Arrhenius get their cut of “giant financial scheme”?

BTW Happy Rosh Hashanah!

Posted by: Warped Reality at September 29, 2011 3:49 PM
Comment #329908

Fourier believed that keeping the body wrapped up in blankets was beneficial to the health. He died in 1830 when in this state he tripped and fell down the stairs at his home.

Arrhenius wrote; “By the influence of the increasing percentage of carbonic acid in the atmosphere, we may hope to enjoy ages with more equable and better climates, especially as regards the colder regions of the earth, ages when the earth will bring forth much more abundant crops than at present, for the benefit of rapidly propagating mankind.”

There simply isn’t enough fraud to include the dead…yet.

Posted by: Royal Flush at September 29, 2011 4:14 PM
Comment #329910
Fourier believed that keeping the body wrapped up in blankets was beneficial to the health. He died in 1830 when in this state he tripped and fell down the stairs at his home.

Fourier was a physicist, not a physician. We all are deeply indebted to him for his work in mathematics and physics. Not only was he the first person to speculate about the greenhouse effect, but he also gave us the Fourier Transform. An enormously powerful tool for breaking an oscillatory mathematical function into its constituent parts. Recently, this had profound implications for computing; applying a Fourier Transform on a file allows one to compress it and store it much more efficiently on one’s hard drive (or flash drive, CD, DVD etc). Without Fourier, we wouldn’t have JPEG images.

Svante Arrhenius built upon Fourier’s work by attempting to create a mathematical model in order to explain the greenhouse effect. Arrhenius hypothesized that swings in CO2 concentration might be responsible for Earth’s recent cycle of ice ages (but he was only partly right). There are benefits to a warmer climate, which Arrhenius wrote about in the quotation you provided. However, keep in mind that Arrhenius predicted that CO2 would take 3000 years to double and that in the 1890s the Earth was cooler than it is today, so he wasn’t too far off base to say things would be better on a warmer Earth.

If you have the time, Read Chapter II of this book authored by Arrhenius to get a fuller idea of what he thought about climate change.

Posted by: Warped Reality at September 29, 2011 4:41 PM
Comment #329911

WR writes; “Fourier was a physicist, not a physician.” I know that and didn’t say otherwise.

Look WR…I was just having some fun with you since you were having fun with me.

Posted by: Royal Flush at September 29, 2011 5:18 PM
Comment #329914

Warped

All forms of energy have externalities. Natural gas has fewer than most.

Stephen

I understood that you would illogically attack the source of the graph, which is why I included the source information, which you evidently find to be true, but you don’t like.

Your fundamental misunderstanding is that you equate money spent by government (inputs) with actual results and outcomes. It is a typical liberal mind-set and it is wrong. You often talk about the non-linear nature of problems. This is a classic example of where linear input does not equal output, but usually in the negative sense.

“Solar is also getting cheaper on its own. That’s one of the big reasons Solyndra went under.” Yes, yes & yes. The market can shift much faster than politicians can adapt. Government is often left with one of two things. Either it just enriches people who would have made money anyway or it bails out or enriches those who should not have been in the market because their products were not good enough.

You seem to see all the parts of the problem, but you fail to draw the conclusion.

But simply, except in a few cases discussed above, those that need large direct government money probably don’t deserve it and those that deserve it probably don’t need it. The more pernicious thing, besides the waste of taxpayer money, is that big government investment can sometimes ensure the survival of bad ideas at the expense of better ones.

Posted by: C&J at September 29, 2011 5:35 PM
Comment #329918

tom humes-
I guess the fact that we were drilling more wells than ever is a fart in my pants. Explains my indigestion.

I’m not disputing that the problems should have been attended to. As for my bias? Well, bias can be useful when it helps us bring in information others might not because their bias keeps them from doing it.

Between each other, we’ve established that lobbyists came from both parties, and that failures in dealing with Solyndra properly were distributed across both Administrations, and that the program was begun with bipartisan support.

So, quit telling me I’m the one with the stronger bias here. You tell me: would you have discovered the fact that Republicans were heavily involved yourself, or would you have just run over this fact without noticing, since you were so intent on nailing this scandal to the Democrats.

Royal Flush-
The hypocrisy of your argument stinks to high heaven. What do you think a coal plant does, hell, has already done to such pristine natural landscapes? How many mountain tops are removed, and dumped into streams to get that fossil fuel? The Tar Sands and oil shales you favor exploiting- do you have any idea the kind of environmental damage that inflicts and natural beauty that destroys?

You throw these arguments out just like Republicans cast forth arguments from the cigarette companies, before Jeffrey Wigand blew the whistle on what they actually knew. And you know what? It’s many of the same organizations that are making these kinds of arguments, casting the same kind of doubts in the same kind of ways, making the same sort of political conspiracy theories and appeals to fears about economic damage.

And you think, somehow, that these are devastating arguments.

Those think tanks and the pet scientists of those corporations demonstrate perfectly well that “science” can pay perfectly well if you’re telling the company what it wants the public to hear about its product. When you’re supporting ridiculous claims about cigarettes having vitamins, even while internal documents talk about increasing the addictive properities of the product.

The crisis is real. My state just experienced the hottest summer temperatures on average that any American state has ever recorded. My city had 100 degree temperatures virtually (if not actually) the entire month. That’s abnormal, even for my neck of the woods. It’s been dry, too. My area typically gets around four inches of rain in an average August. Last month, it almost didn’t rain at all.

Tradeoffs are unavoidable. The question is, what tradeoffs are we making, and for what reasons? Those windmills might leave the landscape scarred a little bit, but they’ll do their part to provide energy in the place of power plants and mining that will cause much more environmental damage over time. I don’t think we can get away with having zero footprint, but the small the strain we put on our environment, the better.

So, revel in your NIMBYistic hypocrisy, as you clear the way for much more environmental destruction than what you complain about. I’m going to tell people the truth about what’s happening to them, the science you disregard in the name of listening to the products of paranoid pyschosis and corporate propaganda. People can trace actual, established science that backs my position. There’s a real theory, with real scholarship behind it backing me.

What backs you, other than thinktanks paid to make excuses for businesses that depend on harmful products?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 29, 2011 6:25 PM
Comment #329920

C&J write; ““Solar is also getting cheaper on its own. That’s one of the big reasons Solyndra went under.” Yes, yes & yes. The market can shift much faster than politicians can adapt.”

Very salient point that seems to escape some of those on the left.

Posted by: Royal Flush at September 29, 2011 7:25 PM
Comment #329921

SD writes; “The hypocrisy of your argument stinks to high heaven. What do you think a coal plant does, hell, has already done to such pristine natural landscapes?”

Really? And you would have the green industry follow suit?

It may have escaped your notice but coal has been used for centuries to fuel our homes, factories, railway locomotives and more before some puny brains even began to think green. What would you have replaced it with for all those bygone years? Coal and other fossil fuels were the engine of our national success. Would you have forgone that success? In favor of what? It is indefensible to wish we had never, or now, used coal. The pinheads have no ready replacement…merely dreams of spending more trillions to chase the elusive shimmer of green energy. They wish us to live in their fantasy world and apparently believe that somehow, the energy from wind and solar will suddenly appear in vast quantities and be available to everyone everywhere. Go back to sleep and dream some more. Let us realists get on with ensuring that the country works and has energy NOW.

Posted by: Royal Flush at September 29, 2011 7:39 PM
Comment #329923

“First, create a crisis, give it a scary name, get some scientific types to agree by pandering to their greed, then hype the hell out of it. Second, bribe influential politicians to put forward plans for government to spend money to combat the crisis. Third, once the money is available, funnel it to political favorites.

I have come to the conclusion that MMGW is one giant financial scheme to plunder Americans pockets. Of course, liberals and progressives are sucked into the scheme as they can’t think beyond the latest bulletin from their leaders. And, I believe for most of them, little concern about cost and fraud is expressed as it doesn’t hit their pocketbook. And, it gives them an excuse to bash big oil, wall street, and all the other “bad guys” who haunt their dreams.”

Posted by: Royal Flush at September 29, 2011 3:18 PM

Royal, the plan of the left is even more diabolical than this; Obama and company gives tax payers money to union companies to keep them afloat, allowing the union workers to continue working and paying dues, which in turn are given to democrats for re-election. The most recent money doled out to green companies this week, go to companies whose investors were also investors in Solyndra and lost money. So what we have s the Obama administration making sure those investors in Solyndra get their investment money back. I believe the term is called “Crony Capitalism”. GW is a fraud!!! It’s just another crisis that must be used against the American people.

“Several of Barack Obama’s top campaign supporters went from soliciting political contributions to working from within the Energy Department as it showered billions in taxpayer-backed stimulus money on alternative energy firms, ABC News and iWatch News have learned.

One of them was Steven J. Spinner, a high-tech consultant and energy investor who raised at least $500,000 for the candidate. He became one of Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s key loan program advisors while his wife’s law firm represented a number of companies that had applied for loans.

Recovery Act records show Allison Spinner’s law firm, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, received $2.4 million in federal funds for legal fees related to the $535 million Energy Department loan guarantee to Solyndra, a solar company whose financial meltdown has prompted multiple investigations.”

http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/obama-fundraisers-ties-green-firms-federal-cash/story?id=14592626&cid=ESPNheadline

As far as I am concerned, Stephen’s comments show him to be a idiot. But I do notice that he is trying to become angry and make a forceful stand. This is the same thing the left has told Obama to do. The retards on the left believe if they become angry and forceful, they will gin up their base, of which support for Obama has been falling:

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2011/08/14/cnnorc-poll-more-dems-support-obamas-re-election/

Posted by: Tim at September 29, 2011 8:31 PM
Comment #329924

Royal Flush,

Your criticisms are nonsensical. Coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear will be needed for some time to come. Nobody disputes that. Oil and gas production are at record levels in the US. But, the fossil fuels have some obvious problems: pollution, carbon related warming of the atmosphere, inherently limited in supply, dependence upon foreign suppliers, etc. Nuclear has the problem of potential catastrophic release of radiation and management of waste.

I have absolutely no idea why some conservatives on this blog (C&J excepted) don’t appreciate the need and benefits for development of cleaner, renewable, alternative fuels for energy. I don’t understand the resistance to regulatory requirements for more efficient uses of energy. It is by far, the most effective means of reducing fuel requirements and reducing the carbon footprint. I don’t understand the resistance to government support for research and scaling up of innovative alternative energy sources. The private energy sector dominated by a few huge fossil fuel energy companies isn’t and won’t. We can quibble about the nature of such regulation, subsidies, etc. But, why would their be any disagreement about the need for cleaner alternative fuels?

But, then again, conservatives apparently believe that the benefits of coal far outweigh their negative impact on the environment. Not a big deal if the US, China, and the rest of the developed world, double the amount of carbon and other pollutants from coal derived energy. Peak oil is a fantasy. There is abundant “sweet oil” just waiting to be drilled at no additional cost. Climate change caused by fossil fuel is a hoax perpetrated by a renegade branch of science. Nuclear power is very safe and there is plenty of private capital waiting in the wings to replace over 100 nuclear plants in the US in the next twenty years.

Posted by: Rich at September 29, 2011 8:45 PM
Comment #329936


Tim

Thanks for your entry.

Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project is located in NV. They are partnered with Pacific Corporate Group. The PCG executive director is Ron Pelosi. Yes, a brother-in-law to Nancy. It is smelling rank already. This group received $737 million.

This changes the perspective on Solyndra.

Even when there was a difference of opinion within the administration there were people like, Carol Browner and Ron Klain who wanted to push forward with the Solyndra loans. Energy Secretary Steven Chu wanted less scrutiny from Treasury Dept. and OMB. Even after defaulting on the loan Solyndra continued to receive funds. They didn’t even make the first payment on the loan. The interest rate on Solyndra’s loan is 1.025%!!! Even the IRS got in on the act and allowed a 30% tax deduction for Solyndra customers.

When the Solyndra facility was finished here is what you could find.

300,000 sq.ft. (five football fields), robots whistling Disney tunes, spa-like showers with liquid crystal displays of the water temp., glass walled conference rooms, 19 loading docks and four electric car charging stations in the parking lot. That was for starters. The site in Silicon Valley was a place where office buildings were built and the cost of the real estate is some of the priciest in the country. And they build a factory there???

After default a preliminary estimate by the OMB showed that restructuring the loan would cost taxpayers additionally $168 million than if Solyndra would liquidate.

Obama’s team knew of trouble before October last year. OMB new the restructuring would cost additionally $168 million last January. The WH knew so much more, yet is just sweeping this mess under the rug.

The result of arrogant, incompetent, and politically motivated people has cost the taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

All of these decisions are analyzed by so-called experts. There methods surely must be faulty to come up with such programs and failures.

This is fraud.

Maranatha

Posted by: tom humes at September 30, 2011 1:54 PM
Comment #329937

Royal Flush-
So, are you saying the greenhouse effect is a fraud? Please, I’d like to know so I have some idea of how ridiculously easy you want to make it to kick your argument in the ass.

Oh, and with the Arrhenius reference, you do know that this scientist, who died in 1927 was basically saying that over the next three thousand years, the earth would get warmer thanks to manmade carbon emissions, right, and that by backing him, you’re essentially contradicting your claim that global warming is a fraud?

Tim-
The perpetual refrain from the right: It’s all a conspiracy, which just happens to play right into right-wing rhetoric, by some odd coincidence.

Go ahead and make the mistake of thinking I’m a moron. I need somebody who’s let their guard down, and underestimated me to make me look good. ;-)

Seriously, man, if you think just bashing Democrats means you have winning argument, think again. Global warming, and our part in it is real. The folks you are arguing against have done their homework. What you’re doing is running interference for an industry that wants to keep us buying their product for as long as possible, before they cash out.

You’re not fighting for something truly conservative, because you’re ignoring all the warning signs that this is not a good long term investment.

All the energy sources you would claim are lucrative and strong are among the more difficult resources to get oil out of. Oil Sands and Oil Shale require high temperatures in order to get the oil out, and then it’s a thick, sour kind of crude which is more expensive to refine. There’s a good reason folks haven’t been exploiting this stuff up till now: it’s expensive as hell. As a matter of fact, it’s only become economical to exploit this because gas prices have gone up, and it will only remain economical as long as they stay up.

Which poses a problem, of course. If gas prices drop, extracting this supply from those oil shales and oil sands will become less profitable. Which means that gas prices will go back up if that happens.

Meaning the market will stabilize at higher and higher cost as the easily exploitable sources dry up.

It’s grade-school economics, really: the scarcer and more difficult to get something becomes, the more expensive it gets. It shocks me that folks who profess such a love for the free market don’t register this fact. Oil can only get more expensive.

Solar, on the other hand, is getting cheaper. That’s part of why Solyndra failed. It wasn’t that they had a bad product- they had an excellent one! But they expected to sell that excellent, expensive product as a commodity, and the price for polycrystalline silicon panels, which allow the larger, less expensive units to be made, went way, way down.

Grade-school economics.

And as for crony capitalism? Somebody slept through the entire Bush administration. Don’t get me started. Really, don’t. If you challenge me on this, I promise I will show you what real crony capitalism looks like. As of right now, I don’t have the time.

Good afternoon!

(Oh, and by the way, cut out the personal insults. This is your last warning . Trollery will not be tolerated on this site.)

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 30, 2011 2:44 PM
Comment #329940

Stephen

Finish the thought. You say “Solar, on the other hand, is getting cheaper. That’s part of why Solyndra failed. It wasn’t that they had a bad product- they had an excellent one! But they expected to sell that excellent, expensive product as a commodity, and the price for polycrystalline silicon panels, which allow the larger, less expensive units to be made, went way, way down.

Grade-school economics.”

You said this before, but you don’t listen to yourself. YOu are arguing FOR markets and against government. You just don’t see it.

Re Bush - I know you like to bash Bush. We stipulate that Bush did some of the things Obama is doing now. Was that good? Once again, you are beating yourself with your fine arguments in favor of markets.

Posted by: C&J at September 30, 2011 6:05 PM
Comment #329943

C&J wrote; “(SD)You said this before, but you don’t listen to yourself. YOu are arguing FOR markets and against government. You just don’t see it.

Exactly correct. I do wish SD would recognize that.

Posted by: Royal Flush at September 30, 2011 7:31 PM
Comment #329945

RF and C&J, SD does not have the mental capacity to understand if it involves accusing his messiah of doing something wrong.

Posted by: Tim at September 30, 2011 8:08 PM
Comment #329956

C&J-
Good lord, why do you think I’m arguing against markets? As far as I know, we’ve provided federal funds for both kinds of solar panels, CIGS thin film and polycrystalline silicon.

I think it’s more an argument for diversified investment in solar, not just investment in one technology, than it is an argument for no investment.

What I’m talking about is a partnership with the markets, not the exclusion of them.

What I don’t believe is that the verdict of the markets is especially sacred. Some look at what the market produces and see the best of all worlds. I look, and I see a system optimized, and imperfectly so, in environment of certain economic conditions and government policies.

In other words, I believe we have options, even if the market doesn’t currently choose to support those options. The market should not and cannot, long-term, be disreqgarded, but it should not be treated as if its judgment is infallible. Very often, things only have to be provisionally successful, provisionally stable, and provisionally profitable for the market to jump for them. The market often works on a very short time horizon, so a lot of long term planning gets neglected.

Perhaps that’s why we need government involvement- not to replace the judgment of the markets where it’s being applied, but to supplement or correct it where it has its blind spots.

Long term energy policy seems to be one of those blind spots. Now, whatever you may think, I would be glad to have the market take over completely, for subsidies to be a relatively temporary measure. Fact is, once you’ve paid for the panel, your main expenses will be keeping the panels clean and in good repair. Solar power generation is the ultimate in externalizing of fuel costs, and what’s more, it has a great advantage that coal-fire plants don’t have: distributability. You can put a solar panel on practically any roof, and today’s panels are efficient enough that they don’t need intense sunlight all the time to generate current.

So, eventually, the subsidies can go away. Nuclear and fossil fuels, on the other hand, can’t do without such supports for the long term. Just listen to how much your side howls when subsidies are taken away. I mean, why are they there in the first place? Do those subsidies even truly reduce the price at all?

If we’re not going to be purists on government support for the energy sector, can we at least spend our money productively?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 30, 2011 11:46 PM
Comment #329960

Stephen

You are arguing FOR markets, as I pointed out. But you don’t take the next logical step. If markets are already working well enough to make an “excellent” investment in Solyndra go belly up, why do you still support government intervention to help firms like Solyndra?

You go on to say “I believe we have options, even if the market doesn’t currently choose to support those options.” But again, your example show that the market did indeed produce lots of options, some of which helped kill Solyndra.

Imagine the opposite. What if government money was enough to keep Solyndra alive, with its technology overtaken by progress. Firms like Solyndra, on government life support, just get in the way of real innovation AND they cost money. Why would you want that?

Re government role - as I wrote in the previous post, I think government has a big role in supporting research. It does not have a big role in picking winners among firms or among technologies.

BTW - I would add that government has a enormous role by its own purchases. If government has such confidence in a new technology, it can buy and deploy it. Make all those postal trucks run on electricity, for example. Government has the buying power to create the infrastructure.

Posted by: C&J at October 1, 2011 7:15 AM
Comment #329964

C&J-
Let me first start by basically saying that I don’t have your objections to intervening in the market. However, I’m not a fan of waste, nor of keeping bad companies on life support.

I like what Obama did with the Car companies. Rather than keep them alive on one bailout after another, he pushed for restructuring, putting those car companies back on a secure footing so they could sustain themselves.

Subsidies or tax breaks need to be employed to productive ends, and supporting companies that suck is not productive.

I freely admit that Solyndra was a mistake, but it wasn’t a mistake on accout of the technology being bad. It was actually quite innovative. However, it wasn’t economical, not in comparison to the technology that’s overtaken it.

The problem is, your side is taking what’s a mistake, and making it symbolic of a failure that doesn’t actually exist. I mean, you site support for solar panels as being too expensive, according to your chart, but then acknowledge that the market spoke in terms of which technology, that of Solyndra or it’s competitors, was adopted.

Fact of the matter is, the goal of support for solar is not to make a losing technology win. Technologies like solar will win out because of the inherent scarcity of its competitors. The question is, will there be American industries supplying that need, when all is said and done, and will the technology come along fast enough to prevent carbon emission which threaten global climate change?

I mean, the thing to keep in mind is that the market policies of the right, which were supposedly the best of all worlds, are what landed us here.

The way energy trading has inflated prices, the way fracking has caused such environmental problems, the price and supply scarcities have a great deal to do with policies that the GOP created to help energy companies, in consultation with them, in fact. You know those visitor records that the White House sued to block under the Bush Administration? Those were the people who came in to discuss the proposals, which became the report, which became the laws that set energy traders free to do their thing, which let oil companies merge and reduce the supply of refined gasoline and facilities to refine it with, and so on and so forth. The laws on fracking? Right from that 2005 piece of legislation. The policies which encouraged the far too quick inspection of facilities like the Deepwater Horizon? In that bill.

You can protest that it’s just more Bush bashing, but what am I to do, if it’s the policy he signed into law, give him a pass to make him look better, when the facts don’t merit it? A lot of what I blame Bush for can be tied to him by policies he approved of, which are documented. Now, Obama’s had his policy screw-ups, but again, the share of the blame he takes depends on what he actually did.

Solyndra, I would repeat, was a mistake. But it wasn’t a mistake that came of the fact that solar panels wouldn’t sell. It came of the fact that their particular panels, priced as they were, were not selling as well as the competition.

The Fossil Fuel companies don’t want competition. They’re not even really putting money into alternatives, which I think is kind of stupid, given the long run implications of peak oil. They’ve got people in charge who don’t want a nice, profitable (for them) status quo to go away. But it will go away, and they’ll have left their companies and this nation unprepared for what is to come.

The market doesn’t think, people do. The market doesn’t adapt towards perfection, it adapts to the current legal and financial climate. This is not a matter of interfering with the decisions of an infallible intelligence, but shaping the goals our economy moves towards. There will be mistakes. But mistakes should be learned from, not used as reasons to give up. In the program we’re talking about, for example, Solyndra is the only company in trouble. All the other companies remain on good terms, concerning their loans.

So tell me, do we throw out success when some want to make an example of a program for political reasons?

We’ve been through this rigamorale before on policy before. What it’s done to this country is make us very wary about facing the challenges we need to face. It protects some powerful, well-connected interests, but society pays the costs. This used to be a country that got things done, that faced its challenges, that looked out for it’s interests as a nation, and cared how America was seen in the world. Folks can talk about being proud of their country, but what about having pride in it?

We’ve fallen behind because we’ve over-emphasized people working for their own interests. We’ve taken for granted the legacy, heck, the permanence of the legacy left to us by those who did.

I mean, what have the Republicans said about certain laws? Ah, Unions served a good purpose, but now they’re obsolete, the markets will make you richer now! Ah, civil rights laws served their purpose now, we’re more fair more equal, but the market can take over now, discrimination won’t come back! Laws restricting bankers and brokers, keeping financial companies separate from each other, they’ve served their purpose, now the market’s the future!

Again and again, the notion seems to be that the market will automatically work for the greater good, towards the ends that benefit us best. The problem is, in many cases the market was in no hurry to change bad behaviors. The market did not prevent lenders from getting predatory, or sloppy in their origination of mortgages. It didn’t stop the mortgage bonds from being so hopelessly opaque, that worse than seeing the bank’s worth become low, the bank’s worth became uncertain!

If we had known the worth of those toxic assets, if we had known the underlying value, we could have corrected for the inappropriately high, and inappropriately low prices, and we would have known now much the banks need to be bailed out.

But then, if it had been clear what the value of the homes in those mortgage securities were, then perhaps people might not have bought them.

So much of the position we are in right now comes from the expectation that folks in the market would provide perfect information, that people buying and selling in the market would exercise good moral judgment under the threat of the market’s moral judgment. Unfortunately, BSing people and keeping secrets seems to have continued despite promises to the opposite.

I’ve said it before, that there’s something about the Right’s vision of the market that’s fairly naive. They expect people to both act for their interests with perfect rationality, yet against them as well. If your idea is that people should replace other institution’s functions with the market alone, then you’re making that poor bet.

The reality is, and the reason we have laws is that people will do a variety of things in their interests, and will only leave off of some unsavory behavior because they know they could be held civilly or criminally liable.

Society cannot conform perfectly to either a vision of the markets where the markets do all the regulation of society for us, nor can it follow the all government, all the time model.

I believe in a model where interests compete for control, instead of one group of people having all the power, and all sides are held accountable to the law. It’s a model that relies on correctability, rather than envisioning that one group of people are inherently more deserving of authority.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 1, 2011 3:00 PM
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