I have hinted at this post in the past and now it’s here. This is my non-scientific stab at:
– The Next ‘American Innovation’
– American Reinvestment
– Effective Stimulus
– High-Paying, Sustainable Job Creation
– Energy Independence
– National Security
– and A Carbon Reducing, Green Energy Source
The caption says it all. Fusion power – the source of energy for the suns and thermonuclear weapons is the answer. Name one thing, only one thing that can realistically accomplish all of the above bullet points and I’ll eat my hat. Lets get started. There may be overlap as some pertinent factors can be shared.
The Next ‘American Innovation’
This country has maintained its greatness because it has an edge. The ideas and entrepreneurship that are part of our identity have given rise to our modern world and the standard of living that we so enjoy. Since the industrial revolution and throughout the 20th Century, this country’s economy is generally propelled by some sort of new innovation. It might be something great like Carnegie and his telegraph and steel empire, or it could be something as terrible and destructive as the First and Second World Wars. All three examples drove American innovation forward and provided new technologies, industries, jobs, and money for this country’s citizens. Why not use this technology and its benefits today – providing that next needed industry. We could corner the market and benefit as we spread the technology to the world instead of dragging the development process out for the next 50 years. I am serious. The development of the most promising reactors take decades with further designs behind them. The pace and the money are a pittance. My one source said it was a total of about a billion dollars a year. Yes, that is a lot of money, but not for a country that builds a plane that cost $1.2 billion back in the early 90’s and doesn’t blink to spend $20 billion on foreign aid a year and $787 billion to bail out Wall Street.
This technology would be an investment in America because we have to spend the money here to make the technology and integrate it into our economy and lives. This case alone should be enough when I say that with a serious committment and expenditure of dollars, we can not only keep that money in our nation’s collective pocket, but spend more on power grids, power plants, turbines, electric cars, cement, and training. This doesn’t even begin to account for all of the other supportive roles that put people to work while making something that is real and actually is a return on investment. Real product you say? Return on investment…that sounds like manufacturing!?!
Yes it is. We used to be really good at it. This is just manufacturing a new energy economy. Why send over $400 billion a year overseas when we can keep that money here while also reinvesting in America?
This stimulus comes in two parts. The first is the one we are all too familiar with; the one from the government. It means we spend money we generally don’t have on something in the hopes we get a greater return than what we put in. These days, government stimulus is considered a ‘win’ when it gets back the money it put in. Now here is the hard part…stuff like this always involves Congress approving, creating, and managing a program that would be what I call ‘The New Manhattan Project’. Instead of making fission bombs, we are making fusion energy. The scale is debatable, but if we can spend hundreds of billions of dollars time and time again on terrible and perversely incentivized stimulus, why can’t the government pony up say $500 billion ($50 billion a year for 10 years) to invent fusion power that gives us more energy than it takes, and also completely revamping our nation’s energy grid in preparation for the technology and as a way to repair it. Yeah, if you didn’t know, our energy grid is far from smart – its crumbling in a lot of places.
The reality is that this government and that of the whole EU might invest $40 billion over the next 50 years. Might. They’ve only put up about $10 billion to get where they have so far. BP has a claims fund twice that size for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. That is a paltry sum for a slow process that doesn’t have enough impetus behind it to create leap-frog breakthroughs.
High-Paying Job Creation & Sustainment
The second part of the stimulus is that it directly equates to American jobs and careers. No, this is not seasonal or temporary work for minimum wage but high-tech jobs that pay well and will not go away. Linemen, mechanics, power plant workers, engineers, professors, surveyors, the list goes on – these are jobs that can’t be exported because that are manufacturing something that can’t be exported. The power lines and the power plants aren’t going anywhere. This investment in the American worker and American infrastructure is money put back into our own pockets. It is spent by you and your family and also by the company you work for in goods and services. Some of that money ends up in the hands of the cement factory owner across town, who then has to get his cement trucks serviced by a local truck garage that your neighbor works at. Like in this example, the same $1 goes a lot further went it is spent multiple times in a community instead of lining the pocket of a shah in Oman. Why take 65 cents or so of every dollar and give it to people over in the Middle East who we shouldn’t trust because they really don’t like us that much…but they are all to glad to take our money?
… Part II is now complete and is here.