February 24, 2009

An Ear to the National Scene

Justin Katz

Personally, I've never been a fan of state of the union addresses. They're political speeches dressed up as government updates. A lot of partisan applauding. A lot of commentary as if what the president says sets some bold, unexpected plan for the country.

And yet we go on living.

The few minute's of President Obama's first "Address to Joint Session of Congress" that I heard on the way home from a frigid (but warming) post–school committee chat confirmed the quality that leads me not even to enjoy these speeches as political theater (whatever the president's party):

But to truly transform our economy, protect our security, and save our planet from the ravages of climate change, we need to ultimately make clean, renewable energy the profitable kind of energy. So I ask this Congress to send me legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of more renewable energy in America. And to support that innovation, we will invest fifteen billion dollars a year to develop technologies like wind power and solar power; advanced biofuels, clean coal, and more fuel-efficient cars and trucks built right here in America.

So we're going to make green energy "profitable" by artificially increasing the price of alternative sources of energy and by pouring government subsidies into it. I'm not sure that's how it's supposed to work. But this president is nothing if not keen to usurp (and stir to brackishness) the beliefs and arguments of his opposition.

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Artificially? So are you denying that there is a societal cost to pollution and that a market is skewed when those costs are externalized, or do you think fossil fuels aren't associated with pollution? Shouldn't a "free" market accurately reflect the cost of goods?

Time was many factories here in RI discharged effluents directly in to our rivers, a cost we're still bearing today. Is that the conservative "ideal?"

Posted by: Russ at February 25, 2009 11:45 AM
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