Summer of "Recovery" Continues
You have to wonder about the White House’s continue efforts to defend Obama’s stimulus bill (and I’m starting to wonder how much the defense itself is costing). I mean, they’re spending more on this single bill than was spent in the entire Iraq war and today we are told that we got... better batteries?
I thought it was supposed to create jobs.
Seriously, what is one to make of the claims reported in the press1:
• cut the cost of solar power by 50 percent in the next five years
• the cost of electric vehicle batteries will drop 70 percent by 2015
• the total capacity to generate renewable energy will double by 2012, and
• the cost of a personal human genome map to under $1,000 in five years.
Notice that for solar power and batteries, the emphasis is on lowering the cost, even though these are trivial parts of our energy portfolio. It is like saying that stimulus cuts the cost of intra-orbital rocket travel to Asia by 80 percent. Unfortunately, nobody does that. The latter is literally an infinitely costly improvement in how people live; the actual examples are merely outrageously costly.
Renewable energy provided less than 7 percent of U.S. energy consumption in 2007.
The private sector mapped the human genome based on the prospect of profitable, innovative medical advances. To date, profit has been thin but that is the nature of private sector risk-taking. The Obama approach is to bypass the benefit-cost calculus – do it whether it will push society ahead or not – and turn it into an entitlement – “a genome map for every American!”
But back to the bigger point. What does any of this have to do with creating jobs or fostering economic growth? Nothing. The stimulus package cynically packaged ill-thought-out policy initiatives as a response to a real crisis. The real crisis continues. Unfortunately, so does the White House cynicism.