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March 4, 2007

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Mallard Fillmore - 04.04.2007

I don’t know of any “Big Solar Energy Companies”, although they may exist. Today’s topic is simply about companies profiting from legislation.

It’s easy to hate the energy companies. What they do has a direct effect on all of us in the price of gasoline. Even if we don’t drive a car, price increases in gasoline are reflected in the products we buy, and any transportation we pay for, like planes, taxis, or buses. Seeing that many energy companies made huge profits as we all suffered under high gas prices upset many Americans. The large profits the companies made were mostly from wise investing as opposed to their high proces, but that was largely ignored by the media and the American public. That’s an editorial for another day, though.

The point is, everytime legislation is passed regulating an industry, several companies stand to benefit or lose from the decision. The more legislation and regulation that the government passes, the higher the stake the company has in the decision. Potentially billions of dollars are at stake with the stroke of a governor’s pen.

Even ‘good’ companies, like those promoting alternative energy sources, are in business solely to make a profit. They have just as much stake in the government’s policies as oil companies do, and there’s no reason to believe they wouldn’t stoop to underhanded tactics to get their way anymore than other types of companies would.

That said, it kind of makes you think. If there are huge corporations who will benefit from the US government moving towards using alternative energy sources, those corporations have a huge incentive to get the public on their side. I wouldn’t expect these companies to be above using propaganda to meet their ends. Warning the public about the “imminent danger” that Global Warming presents is a great way to do it. These companies would have every reason to promote the potential dangers of Global Warming, whether such dangers actually exist or not.

Now I’m not claiming that talk of Global Warming is all lies or that alternative sources of energy are a bad idea. In fact, I think they’re a great idea. But I do think it’s very important to look at the topic objectively, including who has a stake in each issue. It’s easy to look at ExxxonMobil’s CEO as horribly evil, and a “Green” company’s CEO as only out for good, but it simply doesn’t work that way. Any company can have good honest people running the show, and any company can have sleazy, underhanded people running things (like the National Republican Congressional Committee).

In the end, it all comes down to critical thinking. No company is truly looking out for your best interests. Not the Oil companies and defense contractors. Not the alternative energy providers and conservationists. It’s important for all of us to look past all the propaganda (and most of it just that), and find out the facts for ourselves. Only then, can we really judge a situation for what it really is.

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2 Comments »

  1. This is exactly why certain programs, mostly social ones, cannot be trusted to privatization. Betond guaranteeing solvency, the government has no vested interest in profiting from things like Social Security; privatizing (oh…excuse me…personalizing) it puts profit ahead of service.

    Mallard and Tinsley might not want to admit it, but the best thing that could happen to alternative energy is government research support, which will decrease the importance of the profit motive in establishing new technologies.

    Comment by Freticat — May 1, 2007 @ 4:20 pm

  2. Why is the profit motive ‘bad’? The government is inefficient, and it DOES have a vested interest. People who get their paycheck straight from the government are more likely to support the government. Also, it lacks an interest that companies have. Bureaucracies, corporate or governmental, have a tendency to grow. Corporations trim their bureaucracies more often and more efficiently than governments, because a corporation that goes into deficit is in much bigger danger than a government that goes into deficit.

    Quite the opposite then. The best thing that could happen to alternative energy is government getting out of energy research and energy policy, full stop. End all special benefits for dirty energy companies, end all special benefits for clean energy companies. Cut back regulation on all concerned, get out of the industry.

    Then up the air purity requirements, because pollution is trespass. If you force those dirty fueled plants to acknowledge more of their own costs, they don’t seem quite as wildly efficient. Coal is only ‘cheap’ because it gets to steal property value from the surrounding area!

    Comment by Nathan P. — April 4, 2009 @ 4:47 am

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