Talk About Kleptocracy!

How handy to have this column to write after the President’s State of the Union Address. Mostly a state of Ukraine address but oh well. The gang at the Capitol were milling around with Ukrainian flags revealing their loyalties belong to Ukraine, not the people who elected them.

You might remember that the present Ukraine crisis started with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a most poignant example of Bastiat’s quote, “When goods don’t cross borders, armies will.” Trade makes nations dependent on each other and promotes peace. People who fail to find a useful purpose for themselves call dependence weakness. I call it cooperation or friendship.

Nord Stream 2 is a pipeline supplying natural gas to Germany from Russia. Energy prices have spiked in Europe with the realization that wind and solar would have to wait for better technology and depleted fossil fuels to become competitive. As Warren Buffett said, “We get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.” Warren Buffett is not dumb.

We’ve been farming for 40+ years. If we had put windmills on our farm when we started we would be on our third set as they last a maximum of 20 years.

Each windmill weighs 1,688 tons including 1,300 tons of concrete. A Los Angeles Times article I found when researching for this article states, “Windpower is carbon-free.” Following the same line of reasoning as printing money to spend with no effect on the value of money, windmills appear on the landscape carbon free? Look for the assurances that the land can be returned to its natural state when their inefficiency is exposed. Corporate law and bankruptcy will leave the proletariat holding the bag.

At Iowa State I learned about “opportunity cost.” I never really thought about it that way before, so I imagine others might need a poke as well. If the money is spent somewhere, it isn’t available somewhere else. A $3 to $4 million windmill drains the economy of $3 to $4 million that could have been used somewhere else. Progressives will claim it could help with education or social programs. Conservatives will claim it could be invested in businesses as they answer to the needs of consumers.

Either way, fossil fuels have been cleaned up considerably and produce energy for less. Wind and solar are both intermittent forms of energy that require storage that doesn’t exist and a backup when the sun and wind don’t cooperate. If there was a better battery than fossil fuels we would hear about it.

An economically-balanced approach that recognizes the benefits of each form of energy can only be found with a market-driven economy. Warren Buffett is smart enough to work the kleptocratic state to his benefit but it is at a cost of $4 million per windmill that isn’t available to be used for something worthwhile.

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