These are not the best of times for supporters of green energy.
First, politicians and bureaucrats poured billions of our tax dollars into all types of green projects. They figured they were all-wise. Wiser than the market. Private investors would not fund a lot of these projects. So the green companies came cap in hand to the politicians.
The politicians figured they knew more than those stupid investors. And it wasnít their money they were gambling with, anyway. So they invested your tax dollars. And so far theyíve lost a lot of them. I suspect they will lose more.
Next, they invested many of those billions with their buddies. This is called crony capitalism. And it stinks. They invested billions with buddies who had contributed to their election campaigns. Buddies who rounded up money from their pals. Bundled it. Gave it to the politicians. The politicians rewarded them by funneling tax money into their green projects.
That is corruption. And corruption does not work forever in the market place. It is not working very well now.
So, we have corrupt politicians picking winners and losers. And rewarding their cronies. With your tax dollars. For the sake of green energy.
Politicians usually flop when they try to pick winners and losers. Japanese politicians tried to do this for years. They figured they were all-wise. Turned out they were all-stupid. All-wise Jimmy Carter picked winners with government money. Doled it out to synthetic fuel ventures. Turned out they were losers. As he became, next election.
Jimmy was soooo absolutely certain we would run out of oil and gas and other minerals he ordered up a book. Written by government and other experts. It forecast doom. They were certain that by now we would have only a few drops of oil left. Right.
The other problem green energy faces these days is oil and gas. An abundance of both. Especially natural gas. (Oil is not far behind.) New technology is bringing it to the surface and to the market place. New technology the green folks did not anticipate. Technology the all-wise politicians and bureaucrats did not anticipate.
They reckoned oil and gas prices would keep climbing. Because supplies would keep dwindling. Those higher prices would make solar and wind and biofuels more competitive. So it made sense to shell out tax dollars on them. And on electric cars.
Things did not turn out the way these all-wise guys were certain they would. Natural gas prices have plummeted about 70 percent. Thatís how much of it we have. Enough for our needs for at least 100 years.
This leaves green energy supporters in an awkward place. They can fret about fracking and horizontal drilling and tar sands and pipelines. But they will not be able to stop this rush of low-cost energy. At best, they will get some more sensible restrictions put on these activities.
Too, they can tell us such carbon-based energy will warm the planet to our extinction. Science does not seem to be supporting them in this. Lots of scientists tell us the earthís been cooling. Others tell us that climate changes are most likely caused by the sunís activity rather than our own.
Will politicians of the future learn from this?† To future generations, I suggest this: Donít count on it. Over the next several generations the world will not run out of carbon-based energy. And it sure will not run out of all-wise numbskull politicians. The type who are happy to pick winners on which to gamble the peopleís money.
From Tom ... as in Morgan.†††††
For more columns and for Tomís radio shows and new TV shows (and to write to Tom): tomasinmorgan.com.