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.