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Where the sun don't shine

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Call it Gore-aphobia. Big Al’s at it again. The former Veep teamed with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (someone we should ban, in my opinion) for an op-ed in Monday’s Financial Times. I at least agree with the title of the piece, “Green growth is essential to any stimulus.” From there we quickly diverge. Regular readers know I’m no fan of this — or really any — stimulus package. Where it’s been tried, it’s failed. I think it goes without saying growth is essential to any stimulus package, but the green I refer to is money. Key paragraph:

“What we need is both stimulus and long-term investments that accomplish two objectives simultaneously with one global economic policy response – a policy that addresses our urgent and immediate economic and social needs and that launches a new green global economy. In short, we need to make ‘growing green’ our mantra.”

The authors either don’t realize, or don’t care, that their two objectives (at least presently) are mutually exclusive. They call for a “synchronized global response to the synchronized global recession.” Where were they last fall when the central banks around the globe coordinated their liquidity injections? And I’m not sure what to say about their call for the immediate implementation of “pro-poor” policies. Just when those “anti-poor” policies were starting to take hold …

Who wouldn’t argue green technology is a desirable, and necessary, part of our long-term energy policy? But we’re still a long way off. The signing of the stimulus bill in Denver’s Museum of Nature and Science was chosen in part because of the building’s solar panels that almost completely cover its rooftop, and which featured prominently in nightly news’ casts. But as Vince Carroll of the Rocky Mountain News notes, the panels account for just 3 percent to 5 percent of the building’s energy needs. Rather than being instructive on the cost and benefits of green technology, it’s actually representative of so much of the hype surrounding the new energy economy. Saddling investors, especially boomer investors, with more inefficiency and cost when there’s so little time to re-accumulate assets means sacrificing a significant portion of the largest demographic we’ve ever seen. Al Gore’s cool with that. Are you?


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