Forget the energy initiative

Government fails when it has to compete with the free market.

After the State of the Union speech, I thought it's a good time to look at the free market again.

Before the 1970s, roller skates and skateboards didn't have much going for them. Metal or occasionally clay wheels, and very primitive wheel mounts. At best they were toys.

Enter polyurethane and a a bored fabrication engineer.

While roller disco was one of the unfortunate results, it wasn't the only one. The rise of skateboarding and the eventual development of X-sports was another direct result.

Indirect results include magazines, clothing lines, video games, movies, and accessories.

Secondary indirect results include lawyers, accountants, shipping firms, distribution companies, and stores. While these aren't totally dependent on the existence of x-sports, those colored polymer wheels have contributed heavily to the bottom line.

Not to mention pool repair.

This is a multi-billion dollar industry.

Notice what didn't happen here.

No President gave a speech promising that someone would thrash in ten years. No federal funds were diverted to research composite boards. There was no intent in Congress to build a x-sports industry.

It just sort of happened because some people wanted it and were willing to pay for the tools.

Government wasn't involved.

Disposable razors. High thread count sheets. Softer toilet tissue. Better mops and brooms. Jeans. I could go on and on.

The fact is that business works better when government gets out of the way.

"Ah," I can hear you saying. "What about the programs created during the Great Depression to help people?" About the only one left is Social Security, and we know that it is broke. Most of the New Deal programs didn't make it past the Roosevelt presidency.

"But what about Civil Rights?" Those programs in the 1960s were passed in response to public pressure, they certainly didn't cause the change.

"But the space program. We went to the Moon. That's one that worked." Did it? Are we on the moon now? Where is the infrastructure to support a full scale space program? I promise you that if Wal-Mart had gone to the moon, they would have built a distribution satellite. After the U.S. went to the Moon a few times, we have no significant manned space presence. We do have communication satellites, weather satellites, spy satellites, and probably defense satellites, but we don't have people in space.

President Bush has promised that the U.S. government will take the lead in alternative energy research. Remember, this is the same Federal government that is responsible for thousands of unoccupied FEMA trailers sitting in Louisiana. This is the same Federal government that is responsible for the War on Drugs. This is the same Federal government that is responsible the No Child Left Behind.

But this is also the same Federal government that promised to take the lead on alternative energy research before. Anyone else remember the solar panels that Jimmy Carter ordered installed on the White House? Do you suppose those are still there?

Government responds to political imperatives, not market demands. That is why Representatives can stand on the floor of the House decrying excess corporate profits from oil companies and high gasoline prices, yet not make one move to repeal the various gasoline taxes.

Because government doesn't respond to the free market, they can only make a general guess as to what is needed and what can be provided. There will always be exceptions to the rules, usually in favor of those who lobby the most effectively.

Do we really want our energy supply controlled by Congress and the President?

— NeoWayland

Posted: Mon - February 6, 2006 at 08:41 PM  Tag

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