Thursday, May 25, 2006

A Million Manhattan Projects

Friedman is back with another solid column.

But after a year traveling all over America talking to educators and innovators, I am not yet ready to cede the 21st century to China. No, not yet.

You see, my grandma back in Minnesota had a saying that went like this: "Never cede a century to a country that censors Google."
Smart Grandma he has.
Bill Gross, of Idealab, said: "The price of fossil fuel goes up enough, and look what happens. With no government regulation, investment and innovation in the energy space takes off with more talent and focus than any government program. It's a 'distributed' Manhattan Project that attracts the smartest, most ideal people for the task, and the capital is efficiently allocated to those teams."

If the government would just do a couple of things, the energy start-ups we're seeing today would turn into real products, Mr. Sridhar said. One, the government should institute a carbon tax or gasoline tax that would ensure that the price of gasoline never fell below $3.50 to $4 a gallon, which would make a host of new technologies competitive. Second, the government should set high goals for mileage and CO2 emissions for its own vehicle fleet, as well as high goals for eco-friendly, low-energy electricity generation for every government building — and then promise to be the first customer for whatever company reaches those high goals.
I think that sounds pretty good. Straight forward to accomplish and will have lots of positive impacts. It isn't a question of government vs. markets, it is a question of what role do you want the government to play and what role do you want markets to have?

Friedman was on Charile Rose the other day, speaking about green energy. Really good. Check it out.

via NYTimes $elect

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