A few days ago, I listened to pundits complaining that The Great Satan George Bush had returned the U.S. to the energy policies of the 1950s, and how we need to have some sort of Al Gore style character back in the Whitehouse so that we can get back to a large centralized energy policy.
I thought this debate odd because the energy profile prior to the 1950s had a lot more alternative fuels in play than after the rise of the Great Society.
For that matter, I believe that the centralized environmental and energy policies advocated by progressives was a major factor in our current dependence on a single source of fuel.
The centralization of energy policy and ownership played a pivotal role in the systematic removal of all the windmills, watermills and alternative fuel sources that dotted the landscape prior to the Great Society.
Modern politics made harvesting biofuels from forests a sin against Gaia. Restrictive zoning laws reduced the ability of architects to experiment with environmental housing and community design. The strict zoning laws forced our cities into environmentally unsound development patterns (sprawl). For example, in Salt Lake County, most of the high density housing developed in the last half century is in the unincorporated areas.
Our activist leaders let forth a screech of NIMBY whenever a business used anything other than the once politically correct fuels of grid electrical power or petroleum.
The media tells us to hate George W. Bush and worship Saint Al Gore. The great irony of our day, however, is that our society appears to have made greater strides toward alternative energy under the administration of the hated Bush than during reign of loved Nobel Laureate Al Gore and adored president William Jefferson Clinton.
Of course, the people who understand that nature of political and economic power are not surprised.
The Energy Department of the Carter years spent a great deal of money on alternative industries. Sadly the companies that formed during this period geared their efforts to collecting the government manna, and failed to create a sustainable market. In many cases, energy companies created schemes that consumed more than they produced.
During the administration of the loathed Bush, alternative energy companies realized that their products needed to produce more energy than they consumed and that they needed products that could compete in the market. The market filters down to the most sustainable products. Not surprisingly, the technologies that are coming online today are a hundred fold better than those that occurred during the Carter years.
This next set of technologies might even survive the impending oil bust that will ensue when new earth friendly technologies come online and OPEC finds itself dealing with a glut.
Now, I really don't mind that liberal media and public schools teach students to hate President George Bush. I am cactus hugging environmentalist at heart. If hating Bush gets people to conserve or invest in alternative fuels, then I must concede that the hatred has had a positive effect.
I love the fact that there are more bikes on the road today than there were during the heady days of Bill Clinton.
We saw the positive effects of Bush bashing in action last year when Bush openly favored ethanol made from corn and switch grass. The press was quick to forget that Bush's mentioned switch grass and began a month long intensive criticism of subsidized corn ethanol.
This criticism would never have taken place if a Democrat had supported subsidies for corn ethanol.
As a person who authentically wants to see alternative fuels in place, I am actually more afraid of the blindness that will ensue if the candidate the media and public schools love ascends to power. When this happens there will be praise for the subsidies and centralization that caused our fuel addiction in the first place.