Opinion: Innovation delivers national security, bailing out losers makes us weak.
The recent Donald Trump announcement to bail out coal and nuclear energy as a matter of "national security" is the latest the sky is falling narrative that post-truth conservatism has to offer. The reason that coal and nuclear energy are failing is that both these technologies are too expensive to compete in a competitive energy market. Conservatives have always touted free-market economics, it's woven into their Republican identity politics. Trump's radical shift is the latest warning signal that outside forces are steering America off the cliff of reason.
Free-market economics has been the go-to ideology when privatizing entities—the free market performs better than the government. This ideology provides a haze of competence while masking many ugly truths. The free market, as dysfunctional as it seems, is a platform that offers opportunity, but a gamed free market can also be a force of stagnation and manipulation on innovation. Those that control market monopolies don't like competition: innovation forces competitive change.
Monopoly market economics has a different ideology: change = spending money, spending money = bad. When it comes to lazy economics, the less spent on innovation, the more profit generated. Much like a cheap landlord, zero spending attitudes result in larger short-term earnings but risk future market viability. This ideology gets smashed when the rest of the world is innovating and our cheap landlords face eviction from the free market. Who will save these losers, The Loser in Chief?
For decades, experts have warned that failing to innovate is the biggest threat to our economy and national security—leadership is critical to being a leader. Once upon a time, fossil fuels and nuclear energy enjoyed this number one domain and market supremacy, but now there is new competition. As many predicted, and myself, new technologies have lowered the price of energy production to below the thresholds of older baseline energy technology. In a free market, more expensive stuff dies, in a monopoly market, those that make the rules make the rules, not science.
America and Canada have both flourished by leveraging innovation and leadership, Trump's latest move is a deeper step into protectionism, not modern capitalism. Many companies that formed powerful special interest groups are leveraging their powers to rewrite the code that made North America a world leader. Will Trump hand lazy energy companies a welfare check signed by American taxpayers?
If we do the math on energy design, both coal and nuclear are clear losers. These old technology sets are failing to make money and the companies are forcing taxpayers to cover their failure to innovate. When special interest groups write the laws and force these decisions, the biggest loser is us.