Richter’s Four Rules of Government
I read an interview with Burton Richter. Doctor Richter earned a Nobel Prize in physics, was elected President of the American Physical Society, and directed the Stamford accelerator for a number of years. He was also a member of the California Council on Science and Technology which recommended building 30 new nuclear power plants in California. He said that nuclear power plants are the only way to meet the California Energy Commission’s goals for reduced carbon emission. Doctor Richter concluded that alternative energy and carbon sequestration were insufficient to meet the Commission’s stated goals. The Commission ignored him.
I submit that alternative energy and carbon sequestration would not meet the environmental goals despite their incredible effect on raising the cost of electricity. I also have a rule about the help I hire. If I paid them for what they know then I better listen to what they tell me. I use this rule for my doctor, accountant, lawyer, firearms instructor and even my gardener. If I knew what they know then I’d be getting paid to do what they do. I don’t, so I listen. The California Energy Commission isn’t that wise.
The Science Council’s report was ignored by the California Energy Commission. Most political commissions ignore any report that doesn’t support their political inclinations. This tells me that science is simply academic arm-candy for these rent seeking politicians. The California Energy Commission wanted the Science Council to whisper sweet environmental nothings in their ear. The state Energy Commission went away frustrated.
Doctor Richter formulated four laws of Government Inertia:
1st Law: It is hard to predict the future because it hasn’t happened yet. This justifies perpetual inaction because we never know enough.
2nd Law: No matter how good the solution, someone will demand we wait for a better one. Perfect is barely good enough for an opposition lobbyist. This explains the environmentalist’s opposition to natural gas even though natural gas reduces greenhouse gasses by 25 percent when compared to coal.
3rd Law: Short-term pain is a deterrent to action no matter how much good that action will do in the long-term. You can always find a lobbyist to explain why hurting their clients hurts the nation, but most likely it hurts campaign contributions.
4th Law: The largest subsidies go to the least effective technologies. This explains the subsidies for corn ethanol that are authorized election year after election year.
I disagree with Doctor Richter though I support nuclear power. I don’t think the government needs to lead us anywhere, least of all to a preordained energy future. The government simply needs to get the hell out of the way. We’ve already discovered how to make energy of all kinds. That is a given. We have also discovered that California politicians will hold billion dollar energy projects for ransom. That is why the state can’t find innovative energy companies willing to risk their own money in California.
Rob, who is over his cold and can split atoms again.