Smart & Clean Energy and Ground Transportation

Final Blog Entry – The United States does not believe in Industrial Policy

I appreciate those who have taken the time to read this blog. I’m sorry, but I’ve come to the realization that my objectives are fundamentally incompatible with the government, regulatory, and business environment in the United States. The Japan miracle was due in a very large part to their Industrial Policy – i.e. the combination of government and industry’s involvement in planning and coordinating activities in key industries that are strategically important to the country. In Japan’s case this included semiconductors and automotive. Most people believe that pure capitalism is not feasible – the government must be involved in issues such as defense, public health, education, regulation of industries, etc. However, the issue of whether adding Industrial Policy to the mix in the United States is a very big gray area. The threat that we face is increasing global competition for both commerce and the Earth’s resources. China essentially has an Industrial Policy – the communist party (i.e. the single party in power) can do whatever they want. It’s arguable whether a country such as China can be more efficient than the US. It’s definitely NOT arguable that the political system in China is not a path we want to go down, however, it is arguable whether we should have an Industrial Policy at some level – for example an energy policy. However even the consideration of such a thing is subject to too much controversy to be feasible.

One can easily argue that it is up to industry to ensure that it is operating efficiently. This is the idea behind a market based economy. This works well under most circumstances, however, there are many industries where this is not the case. For example the power industry was initially started under the funding and guidance of the government because of the massive amount of investment involved, the long time frames, and because of it’s importance to the growth and security of the country. It eventually migrated into becoming for-profit businesses. The growth of TV and Radio had a similar lifecycle. My philosophy with this blog is that an Energy Policy (i.e. a type of Industrial Policy or business leaders getting together to discuss this critical topic) is critical to our country for reasons of economic growth, global competitiveness, and security.

However, this is unfortunately incompatible with my experiences. The deployment of smart grid and green technologies and infrastructure in the energy space is disorganized, efficient, ineffective, etc. We have no energy policy in Washington, largely due to the Oil Lobby and our fundamental philosophy around free markets. Federal and State governments understand very little about the key strategic issues in energy, and they have few resources to do anything about it anyway. Lobbyists are impacting choices that favor the wrong technologies, and there is evidence to support that many of these lobbyists are ultimately funded by overseas interests. I’m no fool, and I understand that this is the very nature of a market based economy, however, it comes as no surprise to people that there is some level at which it just doesn’t work well enough. I also have found a complete dearth of people who are interested in engaging in conversations about what’s important to this industry from the point of view of ensuring that we focus on the most critical issues, the best technologies, and ensuring that we can compete with countries like China, who by the way are extremely advanced in this industry across the board (technologies such as Wind, Solar, Transmissions, Electric Vehicles, Electric Vehicle infrastructure, effective deployment of the smart grid, etc.). I don’t blame people for basically focusing 99.9999% on what they need to do to sell their products and services in this industry. This is the very fundamental nature of this country and the stock market which drives everything. It is the very thing which has made us so successful. I was hoping to find more people who were willing to spend a little bit of time understanding this incredibly important, fascinating, and complex topic, but I realized that I’m virtually alone in this pursuit, and it’s gotten to the point where not only is it a waste of my time, it’s just not fun anymore. I’m now going to focus on the mobile and media/entertainment space. Now that is going to be fun, and plenty of people are interested in that. Too bad, I really cared about the future of energy and our country, but I just don’t have the energy to do it anymore.

I wish everybody good luck!


Mark Schaeffer

3 responses

  1. Gary

    The production of energy is fundemental to the economic growth and security of this nation. Energy production strategies can take many years to develop technically and years more to implement. Therefore it is inherent to this issue that it be addressed on the basis of strategic planning and long term investment. Capitalistic forces on the other hand focus on short term planing and returns and without the influence of stratigic thinking will be highly inefficient if ever capable of steering technological development necessary to maintain a secure energy future for this country. I’m afraid we will feel the effects of this sooner than we could have imagined.

    April 22, 2011 at 8:24 am

  2. Wahooooo,

    March 12, 2012 at 10:46 pm

  3. love it,

    March 13, 2012 at 11:57 am

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