Sunday, January 17, 2010

Regulation vs Technology

What has created the wonderful economic and social environment we all enjoy is a balanced combination of both, with a decidedly strong lean towards technology—technology often funded by government—and as this article from the Breakthrough Institute notes, it is crucial to keep that in mind, when voices calling for the stronger regulatory lean suggest otherwise.

An excerpt.

“Has America forgotten its own history? Do we remember nothing about what made us a great nation?

“Americans are like screaming schoolboys over the latest technological toy - iSlate! Google phone! 3D TV! - without acknowledging, for even a minute, that so many fundamentals for these technologies, and many more, were delivered by Defense Department contracts.

“Given our collective technology amnesia it's little wonder that America's Most Important Columnist has convinced so many Times readers that pollution regulations rather than government investments in technology are crucial to America winning what he cheesily calls "the Earth Race."

“If Thomas Friedman needed a refresher, he could have easily met his colleague Andrew Revkin by the water cooler and asked him to summarize the state of clean energy innovation and the technology gap we need to overcome. Revkin would have directed Friedman to read something like this piece, that Revkin wrote for the Times in 2006.

“This past Sunday, Friedman pointed again to China's emerging dominance of clean tech and suggested the best way for America to compete is through cap and trade and putting a price on carbon, just like the Chinese.

“What's that? China has neither cap and trade nor a price on carbon? How can it be, then, that it is surging ahead of the U.S. in clean tech?

“Friedman never says. But his argument is clear. China is passing us by in clean tech because of their massive government investments in infrastructure and technology. Therefore, he concludes, we need to do the exact opposite by instating "a price on carbon and the right regulatory incentives" and "a price on carbon" and, again, "a price on carbon."