Bernie Sanders' Solar Plan: A Libertarian Perspective
Solar Needs Less Government, Not More ...
Poor Bernie Sanders …
He means well. I truly believe this. But his good intentions could lay the foundation for a road to hell.
Yesterday afternoon, I read a piece published at thinkprogress.org entitled, “Bernie Sanders' Plan to Make Solar Power More Accessible.” Here's a snippet …
On Tuesday, Vermont Senator and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders introduced legislation aimed at making it easier for low-income families to take advantage of solar power. The bill, called the “Low Income Solar Act,” came the same day that the Obama Administration announced a similar program aimed at installing 300 megawatts of renewable energy in federally subsidized housing by 2020.
The Sanders bill would aid in this effort by providing $200 million in Department of Energy loans and grants to help offset the upfront costs associated with installing solar panels on community facilities, public housing and low-income family homes, according a press release. The projects would also have to prioritize loans for female- and minority-owned businesses, as well as target specific regions including Appalachia, Indian tribal lands, and Alaskan native communities.
I'm probably a bigger fan of solar than Senator Sanders, and I couldn't possibly back such a plan.
First, I'm not really a fan of public housing to begin with. Quite frankly, the private sector could provide better housing for lower-income folks than the government. The only thing the government would really have to do to enable this is to get out of the way.
In the absence of burdensome taxes and fees, private companies could not only build quality housing for the poor, but do so in a profitable manner. I would add that because solar is now so affordable, it's likely many of these companies would utilize solar anyway, as to do so would be little more than a smart business decision.
But OK, if we concede that the government will continue to provide public housing instead of letting the private sector do it, then why would a $200 million loan guarantee even be necessary? Again, the economics of integrating solar into such a building already make sense. There's no need to subsidize it. In fact, by doing so you actually slow the price reduction curve. What solar provider wants to cut costs if the government's willing to pick up the price premium?
The Government will Save you
Also worth noting is Sanders' desire to prioritize loans for female- and minority-owned businesses.
While I will not deny that white men in this country tend to enjoy certain benefits not often shared by women and minorities, giving them discounted solar isn't going to level the playing field. In fact, it actually suggests that women and minorities are so ill-suited to run successful businesses that they need the government to save them.
This has been a long-running agenda of Democrats for decades, and look how far women and minorities have come. Women are still paid far less than their male counterparts, and black folks are still getting lynched for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Truth is, I've always questioned why more minorities don't embrace the libertarian party, as it's far more supportive of empowerment for minorities than anything offered by the jackass or the elephant.
In any event, I still maintain that Bernie Sanders is a good guy with intentions that are a hell of a lot more honorable than anyone else running for president. Unfortunately, his policy agenda is severely flawed in that it relies too much on government intervention and too little on individual responsibility. This “Low Income Solar Act,” is the perfect example.
I do love Bernie, and I do love solar, but that love cannot withstand my contempt for statism.
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