Running exhausted on an empty tank can take you to some pretty strange places. Candidate Obama, calling the Des Moines Register to pitch for its endorsement – my italics:
This [clean energy] is going to be the race to the future. The country that controls new sources of energy, not just the traditional sources, is going to have a huge competitive advantage 10 years from now, 20 years from now, 30 years from now.
I’ve complained about this nonsense before. Wind and solar are commodity manufacturing and construction industries. They obey the classical economics of textiles and steel – constant returns to scale in the short run, increasing returns to scale in the medium run, a low rate of profit – not the winner-take-all, network-effect, IP-gated economics of information technology. It’s quite unimportant if the USA has any solar panel manufacturing, or imports the kit from China: the fact that it could readily start manufacturing is enough to keep Chinese prices keen. Once you’ve bought the kit, it’s yours.
Obama did make the sensible jobs argument, but missed the equally true one of rents and local taxes. And not a peep on climate change:
If you want there to be any farms in Iowa in 30 years and not a dust bowl, we have to quit our lethal addiction to fossil fuels, starting now.
Sigh. Climate breakdown hawks like me are reduced to praying that Obama is lying on this and has an ambitious secret plan in pectore. I don’t apologise for not cheerleading. The risk of an undecided low-information voter in Iowa – aka a gormless hick – changing his or her vote at this point because of a post in the RBC is nil. For the record, Romney would be far, far, worse on energy as on everything else.
BTW, The Register still apparently hasn’t endorsed either candidate, after two years of ridiculously intensive and costly campaigning in this grossly overrepresented state. Did I say anything about gormless hicks? Mind you, the same holds for the snobs at WAPO, who only endorsed Obama on Thursday, far too late to matter.