Notice the multiple dishonesties on display in this little routine.
1. Engineers “are one of the fastest growing jobs.” Balderdash. Not only is the single kind of engineering work on this list hardly a roll-up-your-sleeves-and-build-stuff variety, but it will employ a mere 25,400 individuals by 2020. That will be something like 1/700th of one percent of the projected labor force then. Yes, what a promising field!
2. If Ms. Engineer became an engineer — let’s not quibble over actual facts here — then how did that happen, given that she was into typical gendered toys and didn’t know what engineering even was until she was a senior in high school?
3. Does every GoldiBlox toy come with an admission and scholarship to Stanford University?
4. Look again at the kid playing with the actual toy. How long do you think that will last?
If you know somebody who says regulations have prevented any aspiring capitalist from proceeding with an investment, ask that person for the details. There won’t be any, because, contrary to prevailing dogma, existing regulations simply do not stop anybody from investing in anything that is even remotely decent and beneficial to anybody but the aspiring overlords.
Meanwhile, adherents of the over-regulation shibboleth might profit by reading this little article from Bloomberg Business Week. There, author Ken Wells reports:
Over the past five years the price of photovoltaic panels has plummeted 75 percent, due largely to a glut of Chinese-made panels. The fall in prices rendered technically advanced photovoltaic panels, like those produced by Solyndra and other U.S. companies, too expensive to compete. But cheap panels have been a godsend for consumers.
Nationally, the average cost of residential installations—including hardware, permits, and labor—has plummeted from $9 a watt in 2006 to $5.46. Averaging in commercial industrial installations, the national installed price plummets to $3.45 a watt, says the Solar Energy Industries Association, a Washington-based trade group.
The result is a burgeoning rooftop revolution. The SEIA says almost 52,000 residential rooftop systems were installed in the U.S. last year, up 30 percent from a year earlier. Total rooftop installations, including on commercial buildings, grew 109 percent from 2010 to 2011, according to SEIA data. Total photovoltaic installations are projected to grow an additional 71 percent this year from 2011 levels.
But this boom is puny compared to what it ought to be:
Australia projects that 10 percent of its 8 million houses will have rooftop systems within the next 12 months—most of that growth coming in the past three years. European rooftop installations continue to outpace those in the U.S., even as some countries begin to pare subsidies that have helped spur a continental rooftop boom. Including residential, commercial, and industrial-scale projects, the world had installed about 67 gigawatts of photovoltaic power at the end of last year—up from just 1.5 gigawatts in 2000.
Despite [the] breakthroughs, the U.S. economy is harnessing only a fraction of solar’s potential benefits. Based on U.S. Census Bureau data, about 100 million U.S. residential units could physically hold rooftop systems one day, generating by one estimate 3.75 trillion kilowatt hours of electricity a year. In 2011, total U.S. electrical generation from all sources was about 4 trillion kilowatt hours—42 percent of that from coal, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
So, why does the United States — where a mere 52,000 installations constitutes a boom — lag so far behind? Turns out it’s the capitalists, who, in this case, fairly love their snarled and snarling regulations:
The trouble is, many of the big, investor-owned utilities that provide about 85 percent of America’s electricity see solar as both a technical challenge and a long-term threat to their 100-year-old profit models. And the lack of a national energy policy means regulation of solar is up to states, public service commissions, and a wealth of local governments and bureaucracies—many of whom have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.
The hidden costs of obtaining permits and regulators’ approval to install rooftop panels is a big reason the U.S. lags behind Germany, which leads the world in rooftop installations, with more than 1 million. The price of installed rooftop solar in Germany has fallen to $2.24 per watt. In fact, on a sunny day in May, rooftop provided all of Germany’s power needs for two hours. “This is a country on latitude with Maine,” says Dennis Wilson, president of the Mid-Atlantic Solar Energy Industries Association, a solar-installer trade group. “Germany is showing us what’s possible—if we can just get our act together.”
That’s easier said than done. Unlike the U.S., Germany has a national solar policy, a quick, inexpensive permitting process, and a national mandate that utilities sign up rooftop installations under what’s known as a feed-in tariff—essentially a long-term contract whereby the utilities agree not just to allow the solar on their grids but also to buy the excess power from consumers.
By contrast, the U.S. has more than 18,000 jurisdictions at the state and local level that have a say in how rooftop solar is rolled out, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. What’s more, electricity is supplied by investor-owned utilities, mostly state-regulated monopolies, which supply power from centralized hubs to captured consumers. Profit is in part tied to growth based on an ever-expanding demand as populations increase.
Rooftop solar poses a threat to that model by turning consumers into producers, thereby sapping utility revenue streams. It also diminishes the need to build expensive new plants and transmission lines.
At right is Wendy Clark, “senior VP-integrated marketing communications and capabilities” at the Coca-Cola corporation. Ms. Clark has weighed in on behalf of her employer in the controversy over Microsoft’s plan to respect overwhelmingly clear public preferences and make “do not track” the default setting in its next version of Internet Explorer. Clark, according to Advertising Age,
said brands, including Microsoft, shouldn’t be assuming choices for consumers. “All we want is an opportunity for consumers to make their own choice rather than have the choice made for them.”
In 1983, I founded Grameen Bank to provide small loans that people, especially poor women, could use to bring themselves out of poverty. At that time, I never imagined that one day microcredit would give rise to its own breed of loan sharks.
So said Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus in yesterday’s edition of The New York Times.
Like Major Strasser, he is shocked to discover that this is exactly what has happened. Capitalism, it seems, is not charity, despite the dishonest (or negligently naive) assurances of deluded creeps like Yunus and the Nobel clown committee.
Here is a table listing the U.S. unemployment rate for three different years:
Here, meanwhile, is today’s “analysis” from William C. Dunkelberg, chief economist for the National Federation of Independent Business, as quoted in a New York Times story explaining why “at least through the rest of President [Zer]Obama’s four-year term” it is entirely unreasonable to expect current unemployment levels to drop much:
“You can’t recover quickly from a disaster like we’ve been through.”