Obama Runs to the Right of Tennessee GOP
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  • Anthony

    “The country needs a generation of smart, active policy oriented thinkers who can compete with the blues to develop new and better approaches.”
    So, WRM you are intimating “intellectual variety” in order to test the ideas/policy one propose against competing knowledge, beliefs, and unknowns – a fine generational approach.

  • wigwag

    “People who don’t think blue model liberalism has much more to offer the country in terms of constructive ideas can’t just sit around all day complaining about how they don’t like Obamacare or how entitlements are ruining us. The country needs a generation of smart, active policy oriented thinkers who can compete with the blues to develop new and better approaches.” (Walter Russell Mead)

    Professor Mead is absolutely right; the problem is that the GOP isn’t any more prepared to think creatively than the Democrats. The Democrats are focused like a laser beam on protecting a system that was founded in the 1930s; the Republicans are obsessed with taking the country back to the days of Herbert Hoover and Calvin Coolidge.

    What would an enlightened federal policy look like? It would encourage the same social force that is reducing costs in the rest of the economy; disintermediation. In the not to distant future big electric utilities, either public or private will be a thing of the past. Many companies are working on fuel cell technology that will make it possible for communities and perhaps even private homes to inexpensively generate their own electricity. Both large utility companies and companies that run electricity distribution networks will be “disintermediated” out of existence the same way that music publishers, travel agents and old fashioned retailers have been.

    If you don’t believe it, google “Bloom Energy” to see what I mean. Already several companies own their own “Bloom boxes” (or lease them) and are generating pollution free energy on their own property. The techology isn’t ready for prime time yet; but there is little doubt that it will be in the lifetimes of many Via Meadia fans. A smart federal policy would take a substantial portion of the proceeds from the sale of the TVA and invest it in R&D that can hasten the day when this new technology can disrupt the electric industry. Smart industry executives already know and fear it (google disintermediation of the electric industry to see what I mean).

    The TVA is sooo 20th century; so are all the private companies that will like up to buy the TVA’s assets (should the sale go through). The federal government should be focused on midwifing the approach to electricity generation and distribution that will revolutionize the second half of the 21st century. It should also be focusung on how it can create a regulatory structure that advances rather than impedes the type of disruptive change to the electic business that will make electricity cleaner, safer and more reliable than ever.

    • Marty Keller

      The stupidity of your closing comment is difficult to overstate. First of all, nobody in the GOP is “obsessed with taking the country back to the days of Herbert Hoover and Calvin Coolidge.” Nobody is “obsessed” to do so, and nobody is proposing do so. Third, Coolidge and Hoover represented quite distinct philosophies of governance; to equate them is absurd. Finally, the actual problem with the GOP is a general inability to apply its founding principles to the realities we face today. As a Californian who has witnessed GOP hara-kiri up close and personal, I can testify that it has a lot more soul-searching to do than even the MSM has been proclaiming.

      • Andrew Allison

        As is not bothering to read the whole thing before commenting. That said, WRM’s last sentence was a call for new ideas, not an argument about which is the least competent major political party.

    • WigWag

      For those who may want to learn more about how dintermediation in the electricity industry threatens to turn electric utilities like the TVA or private utilities into dinosaurs an interesting resource is the blog smatgridnews.com. This comment from one of their posts in 2012 says it all.

      “Utilities are starting to realize that disintermediation could have a meaningful impact in electric power. They see how Dell disintermediated computer resellers, how Amazon disintermediate booksellers and how Google and Apple are disintermediating cell phone companies by shifting customer loyalty from the phone company to the handset. They realize companies such as Wal-Mart or Verizon or Schneider or EnerNOC could someday disintermediate utilities. If not from 100% of power sales, then at least from the high-margin portions.”

      • Jim Luebke

        If you’re right about this, then honestly only thing that government can do is get in the way — looking to government to come up with creative solutions is a waste of time, at best.

  • Andrew Allison

    Speaking of new approaches, perhaps we should look at the generation mix, where the capital expenditure is required, and the form it should take. “TVA’s power mix as of 2012 is 11 coal-powered plants, 29 hydroelectric dams, three nuclear power plants (with six operating reactors), nine simple cycle natural gas combustion turbine plants and five combined cycle gas plants. . . . In 2012 coal generation is about 32% of total, nuclear 34%, hydro 9% and (owned) gas 11%. (Wikipedia)”

  • stan brown

    Just about the worst Via Meadia post ever. All the innovative thinking in policy today is coming from the Republicans as Democrats desperately try to breathe life in the dying Blue dinosaur.

    • Corlyss Drinkard

      Republicans have done their fair share of the heavy lifting when it comes to preserving the blue dino. Small wonder after 80 years as the minority party in Congress, wherein they learned to ape the concerns that they cannot now repudiate without appearing to be “mean.”

    • TheCynical1

      Even if Republicans are better than Democrats, that’s hardly anything to brag about.

    • stan brown

      I live in TN. I don’t know a single person who thinks that the TVA is a problem that needs political fixing. Not one. I do know that most people are very happy with their low electric rates. Mead is demonstrating a remarkable lack of political horse sense here. The TN is ascendant and has finally grasped control of the state legislature. Picking a fight with something that is universally popular would be a great way to stop the momentum. Of all the political issues to tackle, smart politicians try to choose those that the voters actually care about.

  • I live in the TVA area and have even worked for them briefly — as a carpenter on the Sequoia Nuclear Power Plant back in the 1970’s — and while the work experience was a hilarious, eye-opening inside view of inefficiency, TVA remains the best thing that ever happened to this region. Thank God FDR developed a love for rednecks while down in Warm Springs. It ain’t happened since.

    • Corlyss Drinkard

      Personally I wouldn’t attribute any of FDR’s impulses to altruism. Typical post Al Smith Democratic political pandering is more attractive as an explanation.

  • TheCynical1

    I used to be surprised when the GOP expressed its love for statism.

  • Jim Luebke

    Republicans may be looking at California’s experience with deregulation… remember rolling blackouts? I’m not sure how “passing laws requiring utilities to sell off their power generating capacity” counts as “deregulation”, but hey.

    Although some of the rolling blackouts were attributed to the changeover of much of our power capacity to cheaper natural gas, which VM has been praising to the skies recently.

  • Jim Luebke

    Professor, if the GOP lacks the kind of policy-generating capacity you like, why don’t you *join* the GOP and help provide those creative policy ideas?

    Obama has nailed the Blue colors to the mast. Given the choice, he doubles down on Blue. The Democrats are going to push the status quo; significant change is going to come from the opposition party, not the party in power.

    You’ll have more luck reforming Blue from the outside.

  • TrollFeeder

    “People who don’t think blue model liberalism has much more to offer the country in terms of constructive ideas can’t just sit around all day complaining about how they don’t like Obamacare or how entitlements are ruining us. The country needs a generation of smart, active policy oriented thinkers”

    Here’s some smart, active policies for you: stop making a federal case out of everything. Work more than you complain. And quit wasting your life wishing that Ivan’s goat would die.

    It is possible, I suppose, that stopping the left from messing with everything they see won’t solve every problem in the world. But nothing else even approaches the benefit that mankind would realize from thwarting and reversing their goals.

    For crying out loud, America does not need a federal policy for how Tennessee powers itself.

  • bobbymike34

    There are many great right of center policy think tanks that are light years beyond the tired leftist ‘make government bigger’ repetition.

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