Basic market economics also explains why the government’s push for “green” energy and “green” jobs has been a failure. “Despite decades of subsidy and government promotion, “renewables” (other than conventional hydro) now generate barely 0.7 percent of our electricity,” Huber and Mills write. “No conceivable mix of solar, biomass, or wind technology could meet even half our current energy demand without (at the very least) doubling the human footprint on the surface of the continent.”
As for “green” jobs, they’re heavily subsidized by Washington, but seldom seem to develop on their own. “There are no sound economic arguments to support an assertion that green energy policies will increase the total level of employment in the medium or longer term when we hold macroeconomic conditions constant,” notes Gordon Hughes, an economist at the university of Edinburgh who used to be with the World Bank.
Then there’s bureaucracy, which ends up acting like friction does in a machine -- getting in the way and slowing things down, even when it’s trying to improve things.
“It rarely makes any sense for regulators to try to promote ‘more efficient’ technologies, because given the fecundity of technology, there’s no reason to suppose that regulators will reliably choose the right technologies to promote, or the right time to promote them,” Huber and Mills write. Thus, while federal policies try to promote CFL light bulbs that consumers aren’t wild about, capitalists are developing better and cheaper solid-state lights.
“When radically more efficient technologies do emerge, they are quickly embraced by paying customers without any need for government mandates -- embraced not just to displace old ways of doing things, but to do all sorts of new things that previously hadn’t been done at all,” Huber and Mills conclude.
We cannot say what the future will hold. But if the past is prologue, humankind will enjoy a brighter future.
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