Look, guys, we are going to keep going over this until it sinks in and you get it right.
In response to a post yesterday (see "Tim Kaine Is Stuck On Stupid"), which had to do with the news that our former governor is still jacking around with always-silly and now-discredited notions about "alternative energy" initiatives, and with the fact that there are real and substantive solutions being developed that will revolutionize the energy delivery system and could - if Kaine and Obama don't stand in the way or screw it up - make the USA energy independent, for the first time in decades - think hydraulic fracturing - think shale oil - a truly appreciated commenter has this to contribute:
"[A]nd Jerry would rather have [the government] mandate the use of coal rather than let the market work and have us rely more on natural gas thus resulting in the closure of antiquated plants."
If that's what you think then I've failed in my 19,290 efforts (that's the number of posts I've coughed up over the years thus far, as of this morning) to make you understand what my attitude is toward the government and to the free market system and to the relationship of the two.
Let me start with this word - ethanol.
That's the concept that fits right into the "Jerry would rather the government mandate the use of ..." Whereas I might admit that I'd rather the government mandate the use of .45 Colts for the Marine Corps, in the private sector government mandates spell only doom, no matter the circumstance. With regard to ethanol, the government, bless its soul, is trying to reduce our dependence on oil by increasing our dependence on corn. A stratagem that has driven the price of corn through the roof and has reduced the stockpiles available for consumption. The developing drought out west is now putting a calamitous burden on our ability to bring in enough corn for the market and, there is still that government mandate relating to ethanol manufacture - a problem that the federal EPA (the EPA? Yes the EPA, for God's sake) will be reluctant to address. As it stands right now, going into winter we are going to have plenty of ethanol but a lack of food.
Government mandates at their essence.
As for coal, let me put it this way, about as clearly as I can: If it goes the way of the buggy whip, so be it. But its demise shouldn't come about through the machinations of some college professor/village organizer/turned President who doesn't know the first thing about market forces or the capitalist system. If natural gas (or nuclear power or voodoo maledictions) supplant the use of coal for energy because gas (or nuclear or ...) is cheaper to bring to market, is available in abundance, is stable in its availability, safety, and effectiveness, and it has long-term prospects for us to maintain the grid for generations to come, bring it on, baby.
But here's the deal: Coal is cheap and effective. If not as "clean" as some purists would want it to be. And coal is abundant. And it's very stable. And the system to turn it into electricity is in place and doing quite nicely.
So, yeah, I'm a big supporter of coal.
And I'm against, with every fiber in my being, a government that forces its demise so that some mythical problem - global warming - can be "solved."
Stability here is the key going forward. Stick around. You are going to see market upheaval the likes of which this country has never seen. When the average electric bill jumps into the thousands of dollars a month perhaps some politician will look beyond those greedy Appalachian Power executives and look to the real reason energy costs are soaring.
It's the government playing god with forces beyond its control. Was Obama shoving cocaine up his nose back when he should have been studying the story of Phaëton?
So, no. I do not want the government mandating coal. Nor any other energy manufacture. I want the government to get the hell out of the energy business all together, and stay out.
My honest belief? Our way of life depends on it.