Wall Street is agog over T. Boone Pickens' "plan" for alternative energy.
But read it. Read it closely. Know what it is?
It's Communist. Not "let's start a commune and grow organic produce" communist. Stalinist 5-year plan Communist. My way or the Gulag Communist.
Here it is, at the end of his Wall Street Journal piece in Pickens' own words. This is his proposition. I just used some boldface so you would see what he's really saying:
The government must mandate the formation of wind and solar transmission corridors, and renew the subsidies for economic and alternative energy development in areas where the wind and sun are abundant. I am also calling for a monthly progress report on the reduction in foreign oil imports, as well as a monthly progress report on the state of development of natural gas vehicles in this country.
In other words, "Subsidize what I'm already doing. Override any objections to my plan for big windmills and ginormous transmission lines hundreds of miles long. Give me control, and guarantees. Make me Wind Czar and put all your eggs in my basket."
This is why Communism fell, because they bought 5 and 10 year plans from goobers like Boone Pickens. He has claimed all his life to be an anti-communist, but this plan reveals him for what he is. He's not a businessman. He's another lobbyist with his hand out. For Siberia read West Texas.
There's a better way.
But Pickens' means are all wrong. We don't need a grand industrial policy. We don't need to guarantee Pickens' profit from a windmill scheme that will lose half the power it creates during transmission, and which only uses the most reliable, highest quality "light sweet" winds of West Texas, where he's already sewn up all the rights.
As I've said before, what we need is a floor price for energy, and a tax on all hydrocarbons which come to market below the floor. Guarantee producers like Pickens a profitable price for what they bring to market, and then let the market decide where that supply will come from.
There are lots of ways to produce alternative energy. Solar cells can go anywhere. Frankly so can windmills. They're not as reliable when they're in-town, but the wind does blow there, and everyone deserves the right to drill his own patch. Geothermal energy also deserves an equal chance to shine. It's plentiful out west, although not so much in West Texas.
We can also do some things in the area of utilities regulation. It is foolish to lay a second set of electric wires everywhere, and a third, and a fourth. We have a 100 year record of successfully regulating electric utilities for the common good, and the good of the industry.
The right regulatory policy for electric utilities will encourage the replacement of current high-power lines with lines made with new materials. It would also encourage creation of an "Ener-Net," (Gore's term), a system in which utilities could buy power from individuals as well as sell power. Anyone with a solar cell or windmill who is generating more than they need at any moment should have the means to sell that power back, at a fair price. We need 300 million entrepreneurs, and an Ener-Net which can buy as well as sell is the means to get there.
Finally, Pickens is completely wrong about the type of gas we should be using in our cars. Natural gas should be reserved for heat and cooking. Instead our utilities should store excess power in the form of hydrogen, so we can create a market supplying fuel-cell vehicles. Those vehicles need to sequester the water they produce as "pollution," delivering it back to city systems when they load up on gas. That way we're producing water in proportion to where people live and work, and it's not blowing into the atmosphere turning the deserts into rain forests.
How do we pay for this? Eliminate all subsidies for hydrocarbon production. All of them. If current market prices don't justify the investment don't make the investment. As soon as we start producing wind energy and solar energy, as soon as we start using energy more wisely and reducing our aggregate demand, oil and gas prices will fall to the floor. Let them stay there.
What I've just described is a market plan for fighting the War Against Oil. Don't subsidize individuals. Don't decide who will win or who will lose. Provide an incentive for everyone to get involved, a floor price which encourages both conservation and new production, and regulatory policy which directs utilities toward greater long-term profit.
And next time Pickens, or some fraud like him, starts demanding subsidies before they put money into a proposition, watch your wallet.
That's Communism talking.