Thursday, November 13, 2008

Paying for the Energy Plan

One of the questions asked at the debates was what promises the candidates might be willing to give up in order to deal with the credit crisis.

While the question was economically illiterate and anyone who knows mainstream economic theory knows that the standard response to a recession is spend, spend, spend, saying this in a debate was not an option. Obama's answer was that it might be necessary to address the energy plan more slowly.

This might actually be necessary. Even though Obama's economic team will be 100% neo-Keynsians who will attempt to spend their way out of recession, doing so will increase the national debt. And if thy are successful the recession will be over right around the time that the build-out of the national renewable energy infrastructure should be ramping up.

One way to pay for the infrastructure build-out is to reduce spending on the military. One of the lessons that should be learned from the Bush administration is that an all-powerful military is simply too dangerous for the country. The real root cause of the Iraq war was not faulty intelligence, or provocation by Iraq, it was George W. Bush's belief that the US military was invincible. Rebuilding the military creates the risk that the next militarist President will make the same mistake and launch another failed war.

Another way to pay for the build-out is to divert resources from NASA. Putting a man on Mars can wait a decade or four, reducing use of carbon fuels cannot. Even if the money was available to pursue both programs, the skilled resources are not. The energy plan is going to need a large number of first rate engineers and scientists. We can't wait to train them, NASA is the obvious place to look.

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