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Our Energetic Future

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What happens if a $1 client investment incurs a $440,000 loss? You’d probably go to jail. But that’s exactly what happened in one California county, which spent close to a half-million dollars of stimulus money for each “job” it supposedly “created.” Forget the political aspects; it’s an economic boner of epic proportions.

I often rail about politicians who screw up—Barney Frank’s fiscal Armageddon, David Vitter’s penchant for prostitutes—yet cling to office. Like many, I was heartened by the message sent in November’s election, although it’s still undetermined if said message was received.

Nothing gets me more fired up than the so-called “new energy economy.” It isn’t new, it doesn’t produce much energy and as a self-sustaining economy it ranks near the nation of Nauru.

“The efficiencies aren’t even close to where they need to be” to act as a legitimate oil alternative, a good friend and new energy consultant repeatedly tells me.

Most galling is the hypocrisy from those usually first to cry foul over corporate welfare. As the Wall Street Journal noted on Nov. 11, even those selling us on the idea know the jig is up:

“But OMB and Treasury found severe problems with ‘the economic integrity of government support for renewables,’” according to the Journal. “Developers had almost no ‘skin in the game,’ meaning that their equity in projects was well below ordinary standards in the private market. They were also ‘double dipping,’ obtaining loan guarantees for projects that ‘would appear likely to move forward without the credit support’ in the stimulus because of other subsidy programs. The reason for the roadblock was ‘an insufficient number of financially and technically viable projects.’”

Less-than-intellectually honest individuals tell us this is the future. I don’t believe it. This type of CBA, ROI, ROE, etc. doesn’t make for sound investments. BTUs produced by new energy alternatives are pitched as sustainable; the investments clearly aren’t.

So if this isn’t our future, what is? We asked six individuals we know and trust for their predictions. All are well-known advisors and/or experts in their respective fields, and the common sense approach they take in conducting business is particularly refreshing given all that’s recently happened. Rather than rail, they plan for their businesses and their clients. This being the “future” issue of our “past, present, future” theme in celebration of the magazine’s 30th year, their forecasts seem particularly appropriate. Onward and upward in 2011.


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