In this information age, it’s very difficult to separate the news wheat from the chaff. Clickbait headlines, paid-placements, and boatloads of political nonsense make it a challenge for even the most discriminating of information consumers to identify ideas that really stand out.
This week there were three of them and they all deserve to be highlighted and given further consideration.
The standout among the standouts was Hillary Clinton’s idea to throw one-third of a trillion dollars at the problem of college affordability. Pointing out that cost should not be a barrier to someone getting a college degree, she wants the government to make sure students do not have to accumulate debt to attend a public college or university.
There are two reasons why this is an extremely good idea. Firstly, the country has plenty of money and can afford it. Federal tax receipts just set a record and what better use could there be for all of this extra cash lying around? Also, people tend to highly value those things obtained with little or no cost.
The logic here not only applies to college, but also to anything else people need.
Plug in whatever item you believe is too scarce in America today and you’ll see how easily it fits: “Cost should not be a barrier to someone getting XXX.” Food? Housing? Healthcare? A high-quality speaker at your graduation or corporate event? They all work perfectly.
Hopefully Mrs. Clinton can sidestep the campaign nonsense that the Republicans are throwing at her and put herself into a position where she can roll out this kind of thinking on all these important issues, and more. If she were President and the dollars continue to roll in to the Treasury, we might be in a position to make sure everyone has what they need. A little application of “cost should not be a barrier…” to every policy proposal and the country will be golden.
The second wonderful idea of the week was making sure that Cuban dissidents were not welcome at Friday’s flag-raising ceremony in Havana. In times gone by, we would have used to great effect the visual of having pro-liberty and pro-freedom activists at an event like this. Fortunately, those days are long gone. Who are we to meddle in another country’s affairs and give voice to its government’s opponents?
Obviously, the Administration conveyed an important lesson to us this past January, when at the State of the Union Address Michelle Obama had sitting next to her an American who had just been released from a Cuban prison. If the Castro brothers let out one of our own, we need to make a big deal about it. But if one of theirs has the temerity to protest, we cannot be seen to encourage that kind of behavior. Freedom and liberty maybe of value to some Americans, but we shouldn’t necessarily think that translates to other cultures.
The third big awesome idea of the week came with the disclosure of how Germany's alternative energy experiment is progressing. It seems to be going wonderfully: the average German pays three times for electricity as does the average American.
What better way to encourage energy conservation and a simpler lifestyle than by causing energy prices to go through the roof? Demand for power is subject to the same rigors of the marketplace as everything else. If costs go up, demand will decrease. And if we know anything, we know that we should consume less power.
Germany has discovered a wonderful way to increase electricity costs: spend billions on alternative energy. The results have been even better than anticipated. One of the unique consequences of relying on wind or solar is that back-up systems are necessary. The wind isn’t always blowing and the sun isn’t always shining. And when that happens, a source of power is needed. All of that costs a ton of money to build and maintain; and all of that money translates directly in to higher energy costs.
Of course, the ideal would be to drive costs to such a stratospheric level that no demand for power would exist at all – other than that which would be provided when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining. They’ve not achieved that point yet, and as some Germans are starting to question the wisdom of the approach – for some insane earth-hating reason – they may never reach it.
But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to achieve that goal here in America. There’s certainly been some lip service to increasing alternative energy sources here in the U.S. and with the Administration putting the brakes on public-land drilling and the Keystone XL pipeline, we may someday have the same sort of success that Germany is enjoying.
Hopefully next week’s news cycle will contain as much brilliance as this week’s did. We will just have to wait and see…