“If only the right people were in charge, implementing the right policies…”
I see a lot of enviro-blogs while browsing around the internet, which seems to have been (sometime in the last two years) painted green. In addition to the Castor and Pollux of environmentalism (Ethanol subsidies and energy independence) many environmentalists also have a solar fetish.
One common theme is that government is the solution to their pet problems. They’re wrong, of course. For example, environmentalists should hate ethanol primarily because it is destroying the environment.
Recently, I came across an article called Farming the Sun at Treehugger.com, the author is optimistic about “sun farms” and writes favorably about a particularly large one in Germany, overseen by Heiner Gärtner, who converted his family’s pig-farm to a solar-powered eyesore several years ago.
…As he sees it, his farm is merely adapting to an economic cycle that happens to favor a different sort of energy.
No, Gärtner is not adapting to an economic cycle that “favors a different sort of energy,” he’s suckling at the teat of government, adapting to a political cycle that subsidizes certain endeavors. This is more appropriately described as “rent-seeking,” the process whereby an individual games the government system to extract profits in excess of those which he would otherwise earn in a free and competitive marketplace.
In 2004, Germany passed a new law that guaranteed people who built solar parks a minimum price for each kilowatt of electricity that was two to three times the market price.
Mr. Gärtner makes more than $600,000 a year from the sale of this electricity, which will allow him to pay off his loans in 15 to 16 years. That is good for him, because the government is phasing out the preferential prices over the next decade. The Mercedes parked in his farmyard attests to his success.
No. Mr. Gärtner essentially steals $600,000 a year from his neighbors. He does this by selling electricity to the German government, which they turn around and sell at a staggering loss to the same taxpayers who had no choice but to finance Heiner’s Mercedes.
This is not a success story for environmentalism, and it should not be championed by those who allege to love the environment. It is legalized plunder, and should be described as nothing short thereof. Every German taxpayer is a victim of the scheisters who seek rents at the State’s enviro-trough.
There’s nothing per se wrong with encouraging more “environmentally friendly” or neutral sources of energy. I’m all for technological advances. But as long as a farmer is guaranteed a certain rate of profit, through a politically controlled infinite arbitrage opportunity financed by taxes, there is no real incentive to get better, there is no incentive to develop a real, profitable energy alternative.
Government is the single greatest threat to the environment, and as I’ve said before in response to environmental questions found elsewhere on the interwebs:
The solution to whatever ails the planet will certainly not come from the fucking cancer that’s strangling it. —Environmental Questions, 9.15.08