Governmental picking winners and losers

I didn’t follow the most US election terribly closely but I did actually hear quite a bit about some of the proposals of the two candidates. I keep thinking that “Make America Great Again” does sound like a catchy slogan and who doesn’t want to live and work someplace great.  I can also understand that having a well maintained or good infrastructure is probably a key component.

If you ask some of the Minnesotans about their collapsed bridge perhaps they would respond that they want a bit more greatness in terms of their infrastructure.  Apparently it was a bit deficient and perhaps a bit more effort on general infrastructure would be a good idea.

During the election I also heard something about coal.  I only know about coal from schoolbooks when we were studying the industrial revolution.  It was apparently a dirty way of powering those steam engines but in general humanity made a great leap forward and it was due to coal as well as iron. We literally would not be were we are today without the sacrifice of the dinosaurs (in their own way) to help produce this magic fuel.

Nobody can stop the march of time nor can they stop the march of progress.  During the first industrial revolution the steam engine was revolutionary but it wasn’t as efficient method of power generation as some of the new comers – like the internal combustion engine.  The government didn’t spend its efforts encouraging the railroads to stick with the steam engine they let the market decide and despite the romance of the steam locomotive, its time had come.

It was not that long ago when President Obama was criticized for trying to pick winners and losers in the energy game.  This was done partly by the generation of laws that favored one particular position.  If this article is to be believed the Obama administration enacted 600 major pieces of legislation that at best made business difficult.  It isn’t really a question that the government took sides in which companies should be helped and which should have to go it alone.

Should we have optimism about the new President Trump as he is from business and should not fall into the same trap?  I suspect that his greatest detractors wish, if nothing else, he doesn’t knock the apple cart over.

He has not yet taken sides as president, but he did veer pretty close to taking sides this as President Elect – with Carrier Corp in Indiana.  But my current soapbox desire has nothing to do with the newly elected President Trump but rather a few forward thinkers in Wyoming.

It seems that the Wyoming legislature wants to select a few industries as the the winners in the generation of energy while creating some pretty stiff fines for anyone who tries to use newer alternatives for generating energy.  The only acceptable options for energy creation is this list.

  • coal
  • natural gas
  • hydroelectric
  • net-metered systems (for private use)
  • nuclear
  • oil

I can understand if Wyoming wishes that all electricity is produced in state.  This does give them some level of control over power should they ever need it.  It also makes sense if there are local laws that discuss what is environmentally acceptable in the generation of that power. It does seem to be a very protectionist move, by the largest coal producing state in the United States, by legislating (if it passes) what the only alternatives are.  Creating fines against forward thinking that would make virtually impossible for a utility to test out alternative methods of energy creation.  This does seem to be a bit odd considering that the local politicians backing this legislation were all republicans.

I would have thought they would have been pro-business not pro-protectionism.  Does the protectionist policies for a specific industries really level the playing field or is it just different form of government subsidy.  How big of a leap is it from subsidy to corporate welfare?  I am certain that the fine politicians in Wyoming have this all under control as well as having an eye out for technologies for the future.

I love seeing those old steam powered trains in the movies and so perhaps a coal resurgence will bring them back.  I do look forward to a steam powered future similar to the one found in the movie “Sky captain and the world of tomorrow“.  After all, who wouldn’t want giant robots, flying robots, zeppelins and of course flying aircraft carriers.

We are lucky that the legislators in Wyoming are such visionaries.

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