Morganomics and renewable energy

Was J.P. Morgan (right) a socialist?

To hear the global warming denialists and big oil apologists tell it, he must have been.

Morgan’s career was based on the idea of “strong hands.” Capital was limited. When speculators controlled vital interests like railroads and oil, prices fluctuated wildly and business could do no long term planning.

So Morgan organized industries into holding companies, and along with utility executives like Samuel Insull and Theodore Vail they made a deal with government. Regulated monopolies would serve everyone, and government would not micro-manage industry.

Stable policies are vital to long term economic growth.

Countries like China and India, which watched Morganomics dominate the last century while their great civilizations stagnated, have taken this lesson to heart. Thus India can set a goal of 20 gigawatts of grid-connected solar power by 2022 and stick to it. China is doing the same thing, but promising that if costs come down it will do even more.

Fact is, maximizing our alternative energy output takes planning. Short term prices can be manipulated. They can fall in the near term, and if you let an auction market determine your economic path you are asking for trouble.

It takes long term planning, and long term finance, to put a gigawatt of wind power into Long Island Sound. Basing 20-year plans on short term auction prices is what got us into the housing bubble. Loans have to be matched to the maturity of the investment they’re made for.

Those who claim you can’t do long-term planning in the auction market of modern America are mistaken. This America is not so modern. We have built a bridge to the 19th century and now run our economy for the benefit of short-term speculators, the Jay Goulds and Jim Fisks of our time.

Where have you gone, J.P. Morgan, our country turns its lonely eyes to you. Woo-ooo-ooo.

Who cares what the price of natural gas is today, or next week? What we know for certain is that in 10 years it will be higher than it is today, and 10 years from that higher still. On the other hand we know solar cells are becoming increasingly efficient, and that scaled wind power can already be competitive with other energy sources.

What we need are stable energy policies, based on knowledge of long term market trends. Our government neeeds to get its head out of its re-election ass and engage with this industry in planning that will keep us competitive with our international rivals, then leave us alone to grow.

Conservative enough for you?

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Dana Blankenhorn has covered business and technology since 1978. He covered the Houston oil boom of the 1970s, began making his living online in 1985, and launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of e-commerce, in 1994. He has written for a host of off-line and online publications including The Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age, and ZDNet. He has covered PCs, networks, telecommunications, cable technology, Internet commerce, the Internet of Things, Open Source and Health IT, He began covering alternative energy at his personal blog, Danablankenhorn.com, in 2007.

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