By Walter Borden
There are many reasons to celebrate Labor in the U.S. as well as to consider what its role in the 21st Century can be. The American Society of Civil Engineers, when they graded our nation’s infrastructure, assigned a startling D+.
Firstly, our nation’s infrastructure has in most areas been allowed to decline.
Secondly, large public works projects, the W.P.A., NASA, The Internet, and the Interstate Highway system result from the type of investment and resources only the U.S. Government can bring to bear. Wal Mart and Amazon disproportionately use the highway around their distribution systems and drive great financial benefit, Google and Apple have built entire new markets with mobile app GPS driven ecosystems thanks to NASA and its innovations in satellite technology, and the WPA built up everything from Libraries to the Hoover Dam. So even while well established fossil fuel marketers continue to enjoy subsidies, lets apply some to Solar. (The same can be said for large agri-businesses and our water treatment and delivery systems which I will address in a later post).
Thirdly, all these industries need large volumes of energy from electrical power. With Solar now on parity with coal in many areas, now seems the opportune time for a nationwide solar public works initiative. Solar has much to offer, from energy independence, low carbon emissions and thus greenhouse gas/pollution reductions, and resiliency. This resilience proved itself in the Sandy storm and flooding, as the solar stations at work there stayed online even while diesel ones went down due to flooding and the frequent inability to get diesel to the necessary places. Its important to note that claims that such programs will hurt coal miners are false and misleading; the coal mining industry cut its employment numbers by more than 2/3’s over the last thirty years via the automation of strip mining.
Lastly, a large investment in solar will very likely bring about entire new class of technologies and market opportunities. This is key as start-ups, the traditional engine of the American Economy, continue to experience more and more difficult times. For example, as Robert Litan of the Broookings Institution and Hatan Hathaway, Ennsyte Economics recently showed:
And its important to note here that its not simply a result of an aging population, as Ben Casselmen of fivethirtyeight.com shows: