Republicans are less likely to impose technology mandates because they know government has a terrible track record (Part 4 of 6)

[For the first entry in this series and pointers to the five follow-up posts, go here.]

Two examples of ill-considered tech mandates come from the Carter administration: the failed Synfuels Corporation initiative (a big waste of money) and corn-based ethanol subsidies (harmful to the environment and a big waste of money).

The difference between the parties is this: when Republicans impose technology mandates –as George W. Bush unfortunately did when he increased Carter's ethanol subsidy – they are swimming upstream against their core principles. But when Democrats do it they’re going with the flow of their party, which is biased toward government intervention.

Dernoga cites several technology mandates enthusiastically supported by Martin O’Malley. Here’s one:
the Renewable Electricity Standard - [in] which [O'Malley] pledged that 20 percent of the state's energy would come from renewable energy sources by 2022.
“Renewable energy” sounds at first like a wonderful, win-win kind of thing. I would bet my 401(k) that voter focus groups love the term.

Nevertheless, many people are beginning to point out problems with renewable energy. Matt Ridley writes in his recent book, The Rational Optimist:
It is an undeniable if surprising fact, often overlooked, that fossil fuels have spared much of the landscape from industrialization. . . To get an idea of just how landscape-eating the renewable alternatives are, consider that to supply just the current 300 million inhabitants of the United states with their current power demand of roughly 10,000 watts each would require:
  • solar panels the size of Spain
  • or wind farms the size of Kazaakhstan . . .
To label the land-devouring monsters of renewable energy ‘green’, virtuous or clean strikes me as bizarre.
Here we go again with the unintended consequences.

This is one of the biggest sins of green Democrats: using peer pressure and faith-based marketing techniques to hurry us into supporting poorly thought-out technology mandates.

Such mandates are strait-jackets. They don’t encourage innovation. They strap down the innovators.

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