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December 9, 2009

Green Revolution - Ideology Holding America Back

-- by Dave Johnson

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.

American competitiveness is severely hobbled by our "free market" and anti-government attitudes. One way our competitors hold us back is by encouraging this outdated ideology. Result: other countries have national economic/industrial strategies and we don't. So we lose.

Remember how "chips" was a major driver of the economy in the 80s and 90s? Then the Internet drove the economy late 90's and early 2000s? The world understands that "green energy" is the next big industry that will drive the world economy. Actually, the rest of the world has understood this for some time and has been investing and inventing and innovating and building. Meanwhile over here America's big oil and coal companies bought themselves a Presidency and an anti-government ideology and a climate-change-denial industry that has cost us 8 years and counting.

Now we're playing catch-up, and the rest of the world is determined to keep us from taking the lead.

In The Big Chickens Keep Coming Home to Roost, Leo Hindrey writes about the Chinese plan to buy part of the wind-generation arm of a company called AES,

China's state-controlled investment fund, China Investment Corp. (CIC), plans to invest $2.2 billion to acquire 15% of the stock and, forebodingly, 35% of the actual wind-generation business of AES, the Arlington, VA-based company that is deeply involved in developing and managing vital aspects of our nation's critical infrastructure - specifically, our power grids, electricity transmission and alternative energy production.

Hindrey expects China to use its stake in this company to get them to buy components from Chinese instead of American companies, as they help grow the American green grid.

...anyone who has ever been in business knows that a massive 35% ownership stake will inevitably create "incentives" for Chinese-sourced products to be used in AES's projects here in the U.S., incentives which will undercut our domestic innovation and against which no fair-dealing American manufacturer can easily compete.

. . . And strong evidence of this predisposition can be found in the new Chinese-sponsored $1.5 billion wind farm in Texas that recently applied to the federal government for financing from the stimulus package - a wind farm that will create only 30 permanent jobs in the U.S. but 2,000 to 3,000 permanent jobs in China where the wind turbines will be manufactured.


This will means lots and lots of jobs going to China. His solution?
Rather than allowing CIC and others to, on the one hand, use U.S. tax dollars to stimulate their economies and, on the other, often acquire the very technologies which represent much of our future jobs opportunity, our government needs to start buying American, bolstering domestic manufacturing, and protecting our intellectual property.

American competitiveness is severely hobbled by our "free market" and anti-government attitudes. Other countries have national economic/industrial strategies and we don't. Please read this from Hindrey:

In the world today, there are two general sets of business and trade rules. One set resides in the older developed countries, such as the U.S. and Europe, where companies still compete mostly on their own on the basis of their business acumen and product value differentiation. The other set resides in the world's largest emerging markets, most notably China, where there are elaborate policies to protect domestic enterprises, induce foreign corporations to shift their production facilities and technology to them, and anoint selected "champions" as the nations' chosen global competitors - and, as we are seeing with the AES deal, make overseas investments that gobble up competing facilities and technologies.

It is crucial to our future to understand that the rest of the world is moving ahead full-speed with the green revolution and that our competitors have developed national strategies where their governments work to guide/assist and grow their businesses to this end. And we have not. We are held back from this by our "free market" belief that it is "wrong" for our own government to help our own people and businesses.

One way our competitors hold us back is by encouraging this internal American "free market" and anti-government ideology. When we tried to get a "Buy American" requirement in the stimulus plan our competitors cried "protectionism" - so we weakened it. The result was that our stimulus dollars created lots of jobs - in other countries! One Texas wind farm deal, for example,

The group’s calculations last week put the number of American jobs at a little more than 300 — most of them temporary construction jobs, along with about 30 permanent positions once the wind farm is operating. Mr. McGarr told The Wall Street Journal that more than 2,000 Chinese jobs would be created by the deal.

Look, it is time to just drop this ideological nonsense. Just stop listening to these self-serving ideologues and leave it behind. The free-market deregulation nonsense created the conditions that caused the economic collapse. We know that. Leave it behind. The anti-government nonsense is holding us back from repairing our economy and developing strategies to take part in the green manufacturing revolution. We know that. Leave it behind.

When people keep telling you that the earth is flat and demanding that we follow flat-earth policies that keep harming us and holding us back, over and over, you finally have to stop listening to them and leave them behind. It's time. Let's start doing what organized, intelligent adults should be doing: taking care of each other, empowering each other, bringing each other up. That is what government is and that is what it can do if we let it. Let's give it a try.

Posted by Dave Johnson at December 9, 2009 11:09 AM


Comments

It is true we need more public investment in green technologies. Green jobs are going to fuel the next wave of global prosperity and the U.S. needs to work harder to solidify its role in this evolving market. Across the board, economists agree that eco-focused business is the next big step in innovation. There is already tons of information out there about the new green economy and how companies and cities are taking advantage of this unique opportunity even during these difficult economic times. The website http://www.greencollareconomy.com has a directory of thousands of businesses who have embraced this new market and are using the power of collaboration, public policy, and global networks to produce jobs and economic prosperity. At www.greencollareconomy.com there are also hundreds of case studies that demonstrate the opportunity we have to create a jobs and examples of those who are already moving toward this market in full force. I encourage readers to take a look and learn more about the green collar economy as this will need to be a signature strategy for the U.S. if we are to remain a global leader.

Posted by: Doug Tetrault [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 10, 2009 6:51 PM

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