Thursday, July 11, 2013

The 0.01% Oppose Renewable Energy Because You Can't Suck Rents From It

It doesn't get much more naked than this (AP):
A political group founded by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch wants Georgia's utility regulators to reject a plan requiring Southern Co. to buy more solar energy, but an Associated Press review ahead of a vote on the issue finds that it has used misleading figures to build its case.
Misleading figures?  Quel surprise.  Read the piece, the story is particularly egregious in terms of bald and bold lying to the public, claiming a 1% increase in solar energy purchased would increase residential electricity prices 40%. The Kochs are just an extreme case of the general composition of the mega-elite wealthy: Pure rentiers.  They get wealthy by extracting rent via monopolistic power over scarce resources needed by everyone else.  That's really what rents are in simplified economese.  I have stuff you need, and I will extort far more than the normal market value for my goods.  You will pay because you have to.  Every disaster story usually finds some villian charging $100 for bottled water or $5K for generators.  That's pretty much what the Kochs, and the billionaire class do to get and stay wealthy at a larger scale.

In particular the Kochs soak rents from fossil fuel resources.  Hence, they must oppose any move to renewable energy.  Why?  Because they care what price Georgia consumers pay for electricity. Haha, no.  Because the Sun can't be monopolized.  Wind and geothermal can somewhat be, in that particular places are better than others for wind and geothermal power, but there's far too many such places and the power of rentiers would be seriously diluted trying to dominate all the windy places of the planet.  The other problem is that renewables scale down quite well. A home can have solar panels, a wind turbine or a geothermal sump.  It can't have a coal or natural gas powered turbine.

This also explains why the rich are much more amenable to nuclear power than renewables.  Uranium is scarce and no one short of Monty Burns level wealth can own a nuclear power plant.  If they have to ditch fossil fuels, they'd much rather go nuclear than renewable.

Do drug dealers like it when their clients go to rehab?  No. That's why the Koch's and the rest of the billionaire class are either opposed or non-committal on renewable energy and the climate change crisis generally.  They got rich from the current system.  A renewable energy system will democracize energy in historically unprecedented ways. No matter what they won't be as rich as they are today.  We're going to have to do this over their active resistance and should expect little to no help from them, no matter how bad climate change gets in terms of extreme weather disasters.  The Inequality Crisis and the Climate Crisis are inextricably linked and both must be overcome simultaneously.


  1. Good points.

    Interesting how the people rose up against the plutocrats after the first global economic meltdown (1929) which put them on ice until the 1980s. But after the second meltdown of 2008 (which we have yet to recover from) the eat-the-rich sentiment hasn't spread among the people. Perhaps it's because stimulus and low interest rates prevented the same degree of suffering.

    One would hope we don't have to suffer an unbearable crisis to take the right action. That's not a very good survival strategy for civilization. (No doubt we are repeating history for being ignorant of it.)

    I think it all boils down to marketing and organization. Reagan and Friedman were great marketers of their free-market counter-revolution (to the post-war Keynesian revolution that created modern living standards.) We need good salesmen who can sell people on sensible, sustainable, moderate economics.

    They said centrist government was the problem. Clearly the past 30-year "age of greed" made stagflation look like a bad hair day...

    Democratic Voting Canada

  2. solar energy is one of the renewable sources of energy.. but there is lot of progress yet to be done to harness it completely

  3. Renewable energy can be good once we have a storage system to store the sun's, wind's, etc's energy and use it when we need it. It is good for the economy because it is getting more and more expensive to dig up conventional.

  4. The rate with which the consumption of fossil fuel is going, at such time installing renewable energy resources could be a good decision. But the fact is that these resources are not being used to their full potential.

  5. This isn't new. Have some fun connecting the dots among Nikolai Tesla, Thomas Edison, J.P. Morgan, John Jacob Astor IV, and the Titanic...I'll wait...