Monday, November 07, 2011

Keeping score

A quick review of the Obama administration's adventures in industrial policy:
  • High-speed rail: Costs have more than doubled in California in the past three years while the timeline for completion has been stretched from 2020 to 2034. Projects have also been canceled in Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida. What actually has boomed: intercity bus service
  • Solar power: Beyond the Solyndra debacle, the solar industry remains a long way from having any kind of appreciable impact on US energy consumption, accounting for roughly 0.1 percent of electrical power in 2008. This is probably due to the fact that it is so wildly expensive, costing many multiples of other energy sources such as natural gas, coal and hydro. Missing the boat yet again, the segment of the energy sector that actually has been revolutionized is -- contra the desires of many politicians -- not solar but natural gas
For all of the talk one hears about government picking winners and losers, one can't help but wonder where the winners are. It's almost as though politicians have no special competency in identifying what consumers want -- who knew?

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