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Dean Baker schools David Brooks on economic reality

Economist Dean Baker takes confused New York Times columnist David Brooks to the woodshed this morning for his partisan and inaccurate attack on clean energy and global warming.

Brooks tries to attack the Obama administration for its investments in green energy and then, as “evidence” that the investments have “failed,” states that there’s an oversupply of solar panels and that their price has fallen dramatically.

But, as Baker notes, that was one of the main objectives!

“Wow, what a disaster! Prices of solar panels have fallen by three quarters in 4 years. Those people in the Obama administration must feel really stupid. They thought their clean energy program would make alternative energy competitive, but look now, prices of solar panels fell by 75 percent in four years.

Okay, I’m tempted to spend the rest of the day dumping ridicule here, but I trust folks get it. The point, Mr. Brooks, was to have the price of solar panels fall. A 75 percent drop in prices in just four years is amazing. To put this in terms that Republicans can understand, if gas prices had fallen by 75 percent from their 2008 peaks, we would be paying about $1 a gallon for gas today.

Part of Brooks’ point is that China seems to have even larger subsidies than the United States, thereby undercutting our industry. This raises some important trade issues that aren’t really different in solar energy than in other sectors.

China wants to pay lots of money to subsidize its exports of solar panels. Does it make sense for us to take advantage of cheap panels from China or are we better off blocking them and allowing our own industry to grow? I have not examined the issue closely enough to have a good answer, but the idea that China’s policy somehow undermines the merits of Obama’s clean energy program makes no more sense than claiming it was a mistake for the United States to have a steel industry if China began to massively subsidize its steel exports. This just doesn’t make any sense.”

Read the rest of Baker’s column (there’s more fun Books skewering) by clicking here.

5 Comments


  1. Frank Burns

    October 19, 2012 at 8:41 am

    So many disappointments with Obama’s green energy program:
    1.It is disappointing to me that so many big donors to Obama’s campaign have been rewarded with green energy contracts.
    2.It is disappointing that our government has invested so much money into green energy companies only to see them fail.
    3. It is disappointing for Obama to hold anti carbon fuel policies when the theory that CO2 emissions causes global warming is flopping in the wind. (No surface temperature warming since 1997, growth of glaciers and ice sheets, no increase in atmospheric heat content since 1997, failure of models to predict climate change – Courtesy of Dr Judith Curry, Ga Tech Climate Scientist) http://judithcurry.com/2012/10/17/pause-waving-the-italian-flag/#more-10215

  2. david esmay

    October 19, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Only 3 of the 26 companies, or about 10.4%. Considering about 56% of new businesses fail, that’s a success by anyone’s measure. Also you’re misrepresenting Curry’s positions, just because she engages climate crankologists like yourself and the idiots at wattsupwiththat, doesn’t mean she agrees with you. She’s just trying to explain science to morons.

  3. Frank Burns

    October 19, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    David,
    You should at least speak the truth when you criticize. There are a lot more than 3. http://blog.heritage.org/2012/10/18/president-obamas-taxpayer-backed-green-energy-failures/

    I am not misrepresenting Dr Curry, I quoted her. Do you what the meaning of is, is?

  4. david esmay

    October 19, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    A blog from heritage.org is not a viable source of information. Both Bloomberg and Factcheck.org have debunked heritage and crossroads gps’ assertions.

  5. Frank Burns

    October 20, 2012 at 6:13 am

    Why is that? Because they don’t match your talking points? What has been debunked is your number of green company failures. This is what happens when the feds try to pick the winners. It all flops, like every single initiative that Obama has done, the community organizer. I’m going with the business man.

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