One of the more tired lines rent-seeking industries use to argue that we jack up their billions in decades-long subsidies and add mandates in the name of global warming is that, if we don’t do these things, our companies “will be left behind.” This has always frustrated me for its combination of currency and absurdity.
So what did my wondering eyes see this morning but this Washington Times “Embassy Row” report of Germany’s ambassador to the U.S. laboring to invoke a trendy metaphor:
The German ambassador Tuesday called for an “energy revolution” as he opened a joint German-U.S. project his government calls a “trans-Atlantic climate bridge” to encourage government and private cooperation to produce cleaner power.
“We are facing enormous economic challenges,” Ambassador Klaus Scharioth told energy experts at his residence. “During these difficult times; it is critical that we take the long view on energy and climate change.”
He noted the challenges of trying to meet air quality goals set out in the Kyoto climate treaty during the global financial crisis.
“First, we need an energy revolution that involves both the public and private sector and decision-makers at all levels,” Mr. Scharioth said. “Second, we need more cooperation.”
That is the reason for the “climate bridge.”
“I believe that by working together, Germans and Americans can be a powerful engine for trans-Atlantic and also global climate cooperation,” he said.
Mr. Scharioth noted that many of his guests already show the success of U.S.-German cooperation on energy projects.
“First Solar, the largest manufacturer of thin-film solar cells in the world, is an excellent example of a U.S. company thriving in Germany, thanks to the country’s favorable framework for renewable energies,” he said, introducing the firm’s chief executive officer, Michael Ahearn. . . .
Ah. Really. That “favorable framework” of course is the famous subsidy and mandate combination increasing German electricity rates, which the rent-seekers want to import to the U.S. But here we also see that, oddly enough, it is possible to sell alternative energy products even if your government doesn’t mandate it — as long as some government somewhere does.
GE sells its Enron windmills wherever rich countries have decided to engage in the folly of forcing their citizens into the system — and, as our German friend noted, even in one of the least sunny countries of Europe, our solar-panel salesmen are doing just fine.
Consider also that the U.S. has a competitive nuclear power engineering industry — design, equipment, and construction — despite having not built a new nuke plant here in decades.
The claim that unless we do something stupid to ourselves our industries “will be left behind” is without substantive foundation and belied by ample evidence. As Italy’s environment minister noted last week about the silly ‘green jobs’ will revive the economy nonsense, in general, “Let’s be realistic.”