Private investments should fuel new energy

To the editor:

Mr. John Whiteman’s letter to the editor of Nov. 29 says, “renewable energy is the future.” Perhaps it is, but how far off is that future – and how do we get there?

If we let private investment in new technologies get us there, we will evolve to it over time through a series of profitable enterprises based on economically-viable developments. If the government chooses to get involved to speed things up, there are usually side effects, such as lost investments in unprofitable companies (sometimes headed by important political contributors) or regulatory burdens placed on unfashionable industries like coal.

There is no need to speed up the process, as the reserves of fossil fuels will last far beyond the time when we are long gone, but the attraction of government intervention to people like Mr. Whiteman is irresistible. He urges us to follow the example of the Saudis “who have reaped the benefits of oil exports.” I believe the Saudi government had little to do with the development of Middle East oil: western companies did all the exploration and development, and the Saudi government is simply living off the royalties (I may be wrong).

I am suspicious of any business that receives government subsidies, and that includes wind farms, for the simple reason that if the business were based on a profitable concept, it wouldn’t need any government money. The push for renewable energy is not a liberal conspiracy, but it reflects the liberal state of mind. Conservatives believe in the progress that comes from all actions of all the people when left alone to do what they want to do; liberals (or progressives, or whatever you want to call them) believe that government should intervene to bring about, as Mr. Whiteman puts it, a “better world.” Why is it better, if it’s different than what we all want to do on our own? Whenever I hear somebody call it a “better world,” I check for my wallet.

John Brittain