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13 Comments

  1. If Wall Street bankers are so smart, how does Taylor explain the sub-prime mortgage disaster. Almost all of those Wall Street banks are still under water, and only show a nominal profit because they have been exempted by Congress form booking overvalued assets at their true value.

    1. Wallstreet bankers made record bonuses on the way up; now they’re making huge bonuses on the way down.
      It is wallstreet BANKS that are in trouble, not wallstreet BANKERS; but I agree, Wallstreet banks are still insolvent, they’re being allowed to conduct accounting fraud with “mark-to-myth” accounting rules.
      They’re not too big to fail; they’re too big to bail out.

  2. Rod Adams wrote:
    Based on what I know about accelerated depreciation schedules, depletion allowances and even alternative fuel credits, I cannot understand why a true libertarian would give natural gas a pass while focusing on the nuclear plant loan guarantee program.
    I would think that a true libertarian would be also be focusing on the regulatory restraints that are holding back the development of nuclear energy. I believe that a wide spectrum of people would agree the regulation is necessary to maintain safety. That being so, regulation needs to be made less burdensome and less costly, and needs also to be done expeditiously so that new designs can be evaluated quickly and brought to the marketplace.

  3. Russia has since 2007 had a program of maximizing nuclear energy production to be able to export more natural gas. Why not export these “abundant” reserves of natural gas AND have nuclear for our own electricity – a win-win for everybody, everybody but the oil companies.

  4. Ignorance regarding nuclear energy and its many benefits seems to exist on both sides of the political spectrum. America needs to find a way to lower the Regulatory Obstacles to commercialization and deployment of nuclear energy. The concept of charging regulated industries a fee for the service of being regulated was introduced in the 1980s by the Reagan Administration. (Thank you, David Stockman.) This approach to regulation favors the BIG entrenched and Established players in the nuclear industry and restricts entry of American innovators offering better and intrinsically safer nuclear technology for a nation that needs to replace fossil fuels (coal) with nuclear. The way we pay the cost of NRC regulation today favors large foreign multinationals who currently outright own much of what was formerly the American nuclear industry. Let’s change the way America regulates new nuclear designs and grants licenses to operate commercial power plants to encourage American innovators to retake the American nuclear industry. It is not in the interest of the United States to leave the American nuclear industry in the hands of foreign owners for the remainder of the 21st century.
    (The above is not meant to rant against foreign nuclear companies. We should thank our French, Japanese, and Chinese friends for continuing to develop the nuclear technology that we pioneered. We should be grateful that they are now willing to help us build the nuclear reactors that we have lost the industrial infrastructure needed to build it ourselves without help).

  5. The problem with Libertarians/Confederates is apparently they want a world where all economic planning is done by Plutocrats which they called the

    1. @ Septeus7
      The Market” is a terrible economic planner and all modern first world economies are the result of Dirigisme not “free markets” surrendered to plutocrats.”
      That is an interesting theory, but frankly I doubt that in a clear historical study and debate you could sustain it. You are presenting an either or theory of history when – in this case – a both and is a better interpretation.
      Nothing Like It in the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad, 1863-1869 (Hardcover)
      ~ Stephen E. Ambrose
      Shows how “Plutocrats” helped to build the transcontinental railroad. They took advantage of the social and political environment to make money by meeting the expectations of a growing nation. This is typical of modern growing societies.
      Your emphasis on – let the government decide – is a bit scary. Tyranny is much more common in History than freedom. Sure Wall Street can get things wrong from time to time, but the current meltdown has more to do with the rent seeking from some companies for Government support rather than free market forces. Besides which you expect fluctuations in a market. The housing market was being artificially pushed up by many local regulations excluding potential use and by the encouragement of sub-prime loans.
      In the case of Nuclear power, we have private investors who are willing to pay for the cost of the regulation – but are NOT permitted to pay for that directly to the agency. In other words, we have the worst of both worlds where an investor cannot pay and congress will not approve. I did not know that it was David Stockman who set this up. It seems reasonable for an industry to pay for the cost of it’s regulation but you need tools for new entries, such as small nuclear power plants, NuScale and Hyperion, and Liquid Floride Thorium Reactors.

      1. My issue with having the industry that is regulated pay for all of the costs of the regulations is that there is no mechanism for allowing the folks with the checkbook control how much gets spent. Regulators who are 100% risk averse, but are not forced to consider the risks of NOT using fission will tend toward never approving anything. If they can charge by the hour, they will think of many ways to keep the clock running.
        If taxpayers were on the hook for some of the costs and had a way to encourage performance – we might achieve a better balance. My model is the FAA – flying in heavier than air machines at speeds halfway to the speed of sound is certainly fraught with potential risks, but a well regulated system where everyone recognizes the real beneficial nature of flying is one that sort of works.

        1. @ Rod,
          Yes, and that is a good model. They investigate crashes and recommend changes but everyone keeps flying. However, in a previous discussion I heard that the airlines pay a fee to the government. I am a bit agnostic here, except that I recognize that our current system needs change. I am more interested in how to move forward with changing – i.e. what do we recommend to our representatives to do now. I have been writing and asking them to increase funding for the NRC and to write legis supporting small reactors.

          1. Quote from David:”The “Market” is a terrible economic planner and all modern first world economies are the result of Dirigisme not “free markets” surrendered to plutocrats.”
            That is an interesting theory, but frankly I doubt that in a clear historical study and debate you could sustain it. You are presenting an either or theory of history when – in this case – a both and is a better interpretation.

  6. Earth to CATO
    What of the cost of Carbon Emissions?
    Nobody is counting the future cost of these in the present. Koch runs a campaign to pretend that we will never have to, despite the preponderance of scientific thought that says the price will be paid and will be high.
    Nor, effectively, are counted the cost of Acid rain, mercury emissions, wars to control supply, ocean spills, sour gas leakage. Often these problems are left for others to take care of, or ignore.
    What of Petro-Dictators? Chevron/Texaco leaving ecuador a bloody poluted mess? Who’s paying for that? How can you really count the cost in human misery from our over-reliance and over-exploitation of fossil energy? How’s the liberation of Iraq’s people/oil going?
    Nuclear Energy is one of the few commercial forms of energy where its costs and harms are attempted to be accurately counted and paid by industry or government.
    The cost of waste storage: paid for in real money by energy companies. The clean up of waste sites like Hanford from the early confluence of enrichment operations for reactors and bombs: paid for by the government. Maybe not all the costs of Nuclear are counted or acknowledged at present, but at least they are sensibly discussed and many of its present and future costs are really being paid for in real dollars. That can’t be said for gas, coal or oil.

  7. The Cato Institute seems to be busy proving the new adage that you can put a mind in a tank, but you can’t force it to think.
    An economic study often called “the single most influential political document on climate change”, was the Stern Review Report on the Economics of Climate Change. Its lead author was Lord Nicholas Stern, former Chief Economist at the World Bank. An interview with Stern published by The Guardian:
    The problem of climate change involves a fundamental failure of markets: those who damage others by emitting greenhouse gases generally do not pay, said Sir Nicholas.
    Climate change is a result of the greatest market failure the world has seen. The evidence on the seriousness of the risks from inaction or delayed action is now overwhelming. We risk damages on a scale larger than the two world wars of the last century. The problem is global and the response must be a collaboration on a global scale.
    About two and a half years after completing his report, Lord Stern noted that the situation is worse than he thought, not only but not least because the senior politicians he floats around with just do not get it. “Do politicians understand….? I think, not yet”.

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