The result of tax breaks and subsidies for so called renewable energy -- defined as energy produced by means that would be uneconomic without such tax breaks and subsidies -- is that the likes of biofuels and wind farms are used by investors not to farm corn and wind, but to farm tax breaks and subsidies.
The irony for many environmentalists must surely be that the result of their banging the drum for 'renewables' will be to bring on a whole new wave of corporate welfare -- the only welfare most environmentalists object to.
The case of West Texas investor and natural gas man T. Boone Pickens (right) is instructive. Mr Pickens intends to spend $US10 billion to build the world’s biggest “wind farm,” consisting of 2,700 turbines producing a planned 4,000 megawatts of generating capacity. According to Reuters, Pickens expects "to turn at least a 25 per cent return" on this 'investment -- an investment only possible because of five particular tax breaks and subsidies that will see large sums forcibly transferred from taxpayers to Mr Pickens's pocketbook, courtesy of the US Government.
Researcher Glenn Schleede summarises the corporate welfare Pickens intends to mop up, all of which he says represent "harmful wealth transfers and misdirected capital investments." (Not to mention that they're extracted from taxpayers by force.)
For more than a decade, wind industry lobbyists and other wind energy advocates have greatly overstated environmental and energy benefits of wind energy and understated its adverse environmental, ecological, economic, scenic and property value impacts. Only during the last 3 years have the facts begun to emerge about the low quality and value of electricity from wind turbines, the high economic cost, and the adverse environmental, ecological, scenic and property value impacts.
Facts, by the way, are irrelevant to politics -- as I'm sure you're aware by now.
And also by the way, this is not the first time T. Boone Pickens headed to the taxpayer with his hand out. Back in the eighties when he was losing his shirt in natural gas, he all of a sudden became a lobbyist for tax breaks and subsidies for natural gas in large vehicles (compressed natural gas buses and the like). He began speeches around that time with "I'm in favour of free markets, but..."
Ayn Rand used to point out that there are essentially two kinds of businessmen. There are the honest businessmen -- "the producers, the providers, the supporters, the Atlases who carry our whole economy on their shoulders" -- and then there are the moochers, "the products of a mixed economy, the men with political pull, who make fortunes by means of special privileges granted to them by the government." As she points out, it is the political power behind the activities of the moochers — "the power of forced, unearned, economically unjustified privileges" — that causes "dislocations in the country’s economy, hardships, depressions, and mounting public protests."
For contemporary evidence of this, just look at the world's food markets and the increasing reports of food riots, products not of the free market and the free businessmen, but of of the biofuels boondoggle and the moochers who use political pull to make (or to supplement) their fortunes.
We're looking at the likes of you, Mr Pickens.