Thomas Sowell

Nothing forces prices up like restricting the supply. It has been years since anyone has built more electricity-generating facilities in California because the environmentalists, the courts, the state and local governments and assorted wackos have made it virtually impossible to build a hydroelectric dam, a nuclear power plant or a facility that uses coal or oil to generate electricity.

There are all sorts of bright ideas for generating electricity by using sunlight or windmills. It never seems to occur to those who espouse these ideas to ask why people who have spent a lifetime working in the electricity industry do not share their enthusiasm for these schemes. Could it possibly be that the costs of generating electricity this way are higher?

There are already vast arrays of aging windmills in the hills leading out to California's central valley as monuments to the utopianism that seems to flourish in the golden state. All that is needed is Don Quixote.

Politics is supposed to be the art of the possible but, in California especially, it is often the art of the impossible. Somehow politicians must make it seem possible to get benefits without paying costs. But if we are too squeamish to build a dam and inconvenience some fish or reptiles, too aesthetically delicate to permit drilling for oil out in the boondocks and too paranoid to allow nuclear power plants to be built, then we should not be surprised if there is not enough electricity to supply our homes and support a growing economy.

The easy answer that is preferred is to use electricity generated outside of California -- somewhere out in the real world beyond our borders.


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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