…and the right doesn’t.
As an avid reader of both the Economist and much of the progressive media throughout most of the 1980’s, I have to say I was always more than a little disappointed that most of those who advocated progressive social and economic justice didn’t seem to get basic economic concepts. It was especially frustrating because I thought that much of the market intervention, done on behalf of the ‘right wing’ was anti-market, and engineered to create benefits to certain elites. I observed that these economic policies cascaded into social and political injustice that could only end in massive political instability, and would (probably) result in a USA that would look very much like the Third World. Of course, at exactly this time I was living fairly comfortably in Jackson Heights, Queens, NYC, but every day working (for 3 years) on a Hospital project in Morrisania, one of the most impoverished parts of the South Bronx so I didn’t really need much imagination to see the ends of the policies of that day. I just had to keep my eyes open.
Today, there is a host of leftists who understand market forces, and are entirely willing to thoughtfully engage market forces as agents of positive social change. Two groups bear special attention: One is the Rocky Mountain Institute in Colorado, USA and the other being the New Economics Foundation in London.
And what’s even more interesting is that there is abundant evidence that the right hasn’t a clue about markets, and are about to slide down a very slippery slope of massive interventionism. I wish I could say that Barack Obama wasn’t part of that group, but I am not sure that I can. (Of course, everything is relative. Barack is infinitely preferable over McCain, aka Bush-lite.)
A couple of interesting articles, one on each group, follow below the fold.
First, at Democracy Now, Amy Goodman interviews Amory Lovins, one of the founders of the Rocky Mountain Institute, and notice that it is market forces that Lovins uses to maintain the necessity of an alternative, non-polluting, energy path:
AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you with us. Well, talk about nuclear power. Why do you feel it’s not an option, given the oil crisis?
AMORY LOVINS: Well, first of all, electricity and oil have essentially nothing to do with each other, and anybody who thinks the contrary is really ignorant about energy. Less than two percent of our electricity is made from oil. Less than two percent of our oil makes electricity. Those numbers are falling. And essentially, all the oil involved is actually the heavy, gooey bottom of the barrel you can’t even make mobility fuels out of anyway.
What nuclear would do is displace coal, our most abundant domestic fuel. And this sounds good for climate, but actually, expanding nuclear makes climate change worse, for a very simple reason. Nuclear is incredibly expensive. The costs have just stood up on end lately. Wall Street Journal recently reported that they’re about two to four times the cost that the industry was talking about just a year ago. And the result of that is that if you buy more nuclear plants, you’re going to get about two to ten times less climate solution per dollar, and you’ll get it about twenty to forty times slower, than if you buy instead the cheaper, faster stuff that is walloping nuclear and coal and gas, all kinds of central plans, in the marketplace. And those competitors are efficient use of electricity and what’s called micropower, which is both renewables, except big hydro, and making electricity and heat together, in fact, recent buildings, which takes about half of the money, fuel and carbon of making them separately, as we normally do.
So, nuclear cannot actually deliver the climate or the security benefits claimed for it. It’s unrelated to oil. And it’s grossly uneconomic, which means the nuclear revival that we often hear about is not actually happening. It’s a very carefully fabricated illusion. And the reason it isn’t happening is there are no buyers. That is, Wall Street is not putting a penny of private capital into the industry, despite 100-plus percent subsidies.
AMY GOODMAN: Why?
AMORY LOVINS: It’s uneconomic. It costs, for example, about three times as much as wind power, which is booming.
Let me give you some numbers about what’s happening in the marketplace, because that’s reality, as far as I’m concerned. I really take markets seriously. 2006, the last full year of data we have, nuclear worldwide added a little bit of capacity, more than all of it from upgrading old plants, because the new ones they built were smaller than the retirements of old plants. So they added 1.4 billion watts. Sounds like a lot. Well, it’s about one big plant’s worth worldwide. That was less than photovoltaics, solar cells added in capacity. It was a tenth what wind power added. It was a thirtieth to a fortieth of what micropower added.
Second, here’s a description of the Press Release from the New Economics Foundation, calling for transformation of the economy, which they are calling the Green Deal, harking back to the New Deal. Obviously, from this reference, the NEF isn’t constrained by Free Market dogma, but they clearly see the necessity of appropriate regulation and show a healthy disdain for the concept of the “to big to fail” meme that huge corporations and the bank lobby are about to use to (try to) wrest billions of tax dollars of tax payer dollars for private benefit. Enough!
Their proposed Green Deal would lead to many jobs, and a redistributive economic system, that would include authentic market structures as the very cornerstone, not the massive corporate welfare proposed by the banking industry today. I find their concern for the scale of the market players, and the tie in that scale has with consequences to be especially interesting.
Compare that to the massive bail-outs of Fannie Mae being banded about so irresponsibly by those “Free Marketeers” of yesterday:
By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS – 5 days ago
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Bush administration lobbied skeptical lawmakers Wednesday to support a rescue plan for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as lawmakers weighed how to protect taxpayers while still giving the government unfettered power to pour money into the mortgage giants.