While stumping for Rep. Timothy Bishop, D-N.Y., Vice President Joe Biden told a crowd that "every single great idea that has marked the 21st century, the 20th century and the 19th century has required government vision and government incentive." These "great" government ideas include abysmal programs such as Social Security, the Post Office and public schools where only 35 percent of students are proficient in reading. Biden's misguided comments demonstrate the disturbing trend of turning to tax dollars and federal agencies to address problems that are best handled privately. Nowhere is this truer than with the Obama administration's plan to "win the future" through clean energy initiatives.
The president is leading the progressive charge in forcing environmental conscientiousness upon the masses. He has made it his presidential mission to implement "green energy" and "clean jobs" into the American economy, market signals be damned. Obama believes that the accomplishment of such a wildly noble, unquestioningly beneficial goal must be solely the duty of the federal government, but if he were to examine past governmental efforts to intervene in environmental affairs, he might notice that those experiments did far more harm than good.
In a special report in the May issue of Townhall Magazine full of inconvenient facts that are sure to annoy and frustrate the enviro-Left, Helen Whalen-Cohen and Erika Johnsen explain exactly why bigger government will not save the economy or the environment but private solutions will.
"The Great Green Gaffe" exposes much of the nonsense that comes from the liberal environmentalist movement. Their plans serve only to hurt both the environment and the economy -- but there is hope. You can bet the Left won't hearing this, but it must be told. Order today to get the full report.
Here are a few excerpts from this important feature:
The Solyndra solar panel plant in Northern California has served as a poster child of the supposedly burgeoning solar energy industry. In the spring of 2010, President Obama visited the solar plant to check up on the green "investment" he made in the form of a $535 million stimulus loan the plant received under the 2009 Recovery Act.
"The promise of clean energy isn't just an article of faith," said President Obama. "It's not just some abstract possibility for science fiction movies or a distant future or 10 years down the road or 20 years, it's happening right now."
"Article of faith" and "abstract" are, in fact, great terms to describe the solar panel industry. The bailout only buoyed an industry that is not economically viable on its own. The day after the November 2010 elections (how convenient!), the solar plant announced that it needed to lay off 17.5 percent of its workers. ...
The Solyndra solar debacle demonstrates the imprudence of a government that believes itself able to create green jobs from nothing but its imagination. Instead of leaving citizens free to make their own economic decisions, the feds pick the winners and losers of the marketplace, based on nothing but political ambitions and ideologies.
Wind power presents a similarly frustrating story. The American Wind Energy Association, a D.C.-based lobby, asserts that "[f]ederal and state policies will unleash [wind's] potential," according to a report titled "Wind Energy is Good for America." The lobby does not seem to have an interest in nurturing an independent, profitable and efficient industry; instead, they would rather chase subsidies. According to U.S. Energy Information Administration data, wind barely accounted for 0.7 percent of U.S. energy consumption in 2009 (see "U.S. Energy Consumption by Energy Source, 2009"), and the number was only that high because electricity companies are required by law to purchase some energy from alternative sources. [...]
No doubt President Theodore Roosevelt had (in his own mind) good intentions when he accelerated the federal land grab that gradually led to federal ownership of more than 25 percent of the United States' lands.
Conservation, both for posterity and for the sake of conservation itself, is an admirable goal. As in all other enterprises, however, basic economic principles apply. As soon as land belongs to everybody in common, it belongs to nobody in particular.
Instead of land-maintenance and conservation decisions made by localities, the out-of-touch bureaucrats in Washington dictate the ways in which money is spent, resulting in inefficiencies, oversights and environmental degradation (for instance, untended forests become overly dense and prone to ravaging wildfires).
According to a report by the Cato Institute, the National Park Service alone estimates a backlog of more than $10 billion in deferred maintenance projects, and the U.S. Forest Service loses an average of 77 cents for every dollar it spends on land (mis)management.
In a moment of economic crisis, the other President Roosevelt also attempted to assert new responsibilities for the federal government at the expense of the American taxpayer. FDR first instituted farm bills during the Great Depression, when millions of small farmers were suddenly bankrupted.
Ever since, the federal government has cosseted the agriculture sector to no end -- in theory ensuring the survival of the small family farm, low food prices and environmental stewardship, but in practice achieving the opposite effect. Government farm subsidies encourage overproduction, often at the cost of the environment, and two-thirds of direct agricultural payouts go to the wealthiest 10 percent of growers. ...
The success of the agribusiness lobbyists in keeping bureaucrats under their collective thumb, while swindling the free market economy, is a testament to the power of small interest groups in influencing an over-regulatory, bloated government. If the agricultural sector can be so damagingly defective, why would environmentalism be any different? [...]
With the proper incentives, individuals and businesses can accomplish any number of honestly green initiatives. Instead of the convoluted, unintended-consequence-laden, environmental jeopardy that results when politics and environmentalism mix, private ownership and entrepreneurship are the best methods to conserve the American landscape and protect our natural resources.
Get the full report on "The Great Green Gaffe" only in the May issue of Townhall Magazine.