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McCain calls for $300 million prize for better car battery


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McCain's Energy Plan

 

Sen. John McCain on Monday called for a $300 million prize to whoever can develop a battery that will "leapfrog" the abilities of current hybrid and electric cars

 

"In the quest for alternatives to oil, our government has thrown around enough money subsidizing special interests and excusing failure," McCain said. "From now on, we will encourage heroic efforts in engineering, and we will reward the greatest success."

 

"Instead of playing favorites, our government should level the playing field for all alcohol fuels that break the monopoly of gasoline, both lowering gasoline prices and carbon emissions," he said

 

I'm not sure what I think about this.....

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Pure politics. The people who are working hard to deliver breakthrough battery technology and other revolutionary products already realize that the financial rewards will be substantial if they succeed. Would I work harder and longer hours for a $300 million payday than I would for an opportunity to be the next Bill Gates? Probably not.

 

($300 million to develop the 100 mile car battery would be a bargain but I think that McCain's proposal is just typical election year political theatrics and will do nothing to speed development.)

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Which is it? You advocate drilling in ANWR and offshore drilling to drive down the price of oil (which will greatly reduce the market incentive for the development of plug-in hybrid/electric vehicle batteries), yet you say the potential financial rewards of developing such a battery make the offer of a government R&D incentive unnecessary. You can't have it both ways. McCain's offer is at least consistent with his goal of increasing supplies.

 

This is precisely why I'm skeptical that we will ever find a technical solution to our oil addiction with cheap gasoline. We're perfectly willing to invisibly subsidize the rest of the world's supply of oil through our trillion dollar military expenditures, yet when someone suggests comparatively small investments in technologies to address our addiction and lessen our dependence on a softly hostile cartel, they are derided for being naive about the way markets work.

 

Development of alternative energy technologies is not something we should leave to the fickle winds of the market--it is a national security imperative arguably as grave as the cold war and should be pursued by the government aggressively.

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Which is it? You advocate drilling in ANWR and offshore drilling to drive down the price of oil (which will greatly reduce the market incentive for the development of plug-in hybrid/electric vehicle batteries), yet you say the potential financial rewards of developing such a battery make the offer of a government R&D incentive unnecessary. You can't have it both ways. McCain's offer is at least consistent with his goal of increasing supplies.

 

This is precisely why I'm skeptical that we will ever find a technical solution to our oil addiction with cheap gasoline. We're perfectly willing to invisibly subsidize the rest of the world's supply of oil through our trillion dollar military expenditures, yet when someone suggests comparatively small investments in technologies to address our addiction and lessen our dependence on a softly hostile cartel, they are derided for being naive about the way markets work.

 

Development of alternative energy technologies is not something we should leave to the fickle winds of the market--it is a national security imperative arguably as grave as the cold war and should be pursued by the government aggressively.

 

I think the best solution is to do both. We need to scale back our dependency on foriegn oil to lower prices, but at the same time we need to be researching alternative methods such as this.

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I think the best solution is to do both. We need to scale back our dependency on foriegn oil to lower prices, but at the same time we need to be researching alternative methods such as this.

 

Right. People need to recognize that pure market forces won't necessarily spur research at the level and pace we need without government financial support. Others have likened the appropriate level of government involvement and urgency to the Apollo space program of the 1960's, and I agree.

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Right. People need to recognize that pure market forces won't necessarily spur research at the level and pace we need without government financial support. Others have likened the appropriate level of government involvement and urgency to the Apollo space program of the 1960's, and I agree.

I don't agree that the market won't spur research at the level needed. I truly believe that if alternative fuels were practical at a price to consumers less than gas is now, they would be here. But I believe in the free market and the invisible hand more than nearly anything in the world. :lol:

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I don't agree that the market won't spur research at the level needed. I truly believe that if alternative fuels were practical at a price to consumers less than gas is now, they would be here. But I believe in the free market and the invisible hand more than nearly anything in the world. :lol:

 

 

We have had $4 gas what, a month or so now? How long do you think it takes to develop breakthrough technology? I'm sure the market is working on research as we speak, but research can always be pursued more aggressively with more funding. Let's assume there is a speculative bubble propping up the price of oil and the bubble burst next month, sending oil to $80 and gas to $3.00. Would the research continue? Not if the economic breakeven for the cost of research required $4.00 gas to make it viable. It would get canceled or certainly scaled back. Does the research need to continue? I believe it does, because I think our oil dependence is a national security risk in addition to being an economic risk. Leaving such research primarily to free market forces has resulted in what we have today--no technical solution and incredible vulnerability to events in other countries.

 

If government funding were assured, the bar to economically justify research projects would be much lower (and therefore the risk to private firms would be lower) and they would be much more willing to aggressively pursue new technologies. Properly supported, economies of scale and learning would accumulate and reduce the cost of these technologies to the point of viability.

 

There are plenty of successful examples of government investment in new techology throughout American history. The transcontinental railroad (completed 1869) was substantially financed by the federal government and resulted in tremendous economic expansion by linking east to west. Could the private market have accomplished the same thing? Probably, but not nearly as quickly. The interstate highway system is another example--it was actually sold as a national security project, but ended up being primarily an engine of interstate commerce and provided a major boost to economic growth within the U.S. Would we have enjoyed that economic benefit if government sat back and left such an undertaking to the private sector? Government research was the primary driver that led to the development of the internet (no Al Gore jokes, please).

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I like McCain's plan here. If we are going to be opening up more drilling and potentially lower the price at the pump, we need a driven effort to make other energy options viable before we face another potential crisis. If I remember correctly, Huckabee presented a similar idea in the primaries, only he was talking in billions of dollars.

 

Which is it? You advocate drilling in ANWR and offshore drilling to drive down the price of oil (which will greatly reduce the market incentive for the development of plug-in hybrid/electric vehicle batteries), yet you say the potential financial rewards of developing such a battery make the offer of a government R&D incentive unnecessary. You can't have it both ways. McCain's offer is at least consistent with his goal of increasing supplies.

 

:thumb:

 

But I believe in the free market and the invisible hand more than nearly anything in the world. :lol:

 

I agree in general principle. But, are markets concerned with national security? Does a sector market like the oil market (if we can even call it that) concern itself with the well being of the rest of the economy?

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Which is it? You advocate drilling in ANWR and offshore drilling to drive down the price of oil (which will greatly reduce the market incentive for the development of plug-in hybrid/electric vehicle batteries), yet you say the potential financial rewards of developing such a battery make the offer of a government R&D incentive unnecessary. You can't have it both ways. McCain's offer is at least consistent with his goal of increasing supplies.

 

This is precisely why I'm skeptical that we will ever find a technical solution to our oil addiction with cheap gasoline. We're perfectly willing to invisibly subsidize the rest of the world's supply of oil through our trillion dollar military expenditures, yet when someone suggests comparatively small investments in technologies to address our addiction and lessen our dependence on a softly hostile cartel, they are derided for being naive about the way markets work.

 

Development of alternative energy technologies is not something we should leave to the fickle winds of the market--it is a national security imperative arguably as grave as the cold war and should be pursued by the government aggressively.

Another apples to oranges argument. Offering taxpayer bonuses to entrepeneurs who are working to develop such batteries because of the soaring price of gasoline and the increasing availability of venture capital for such projects is not the same as blocking drilling in ANWR.

 

Awarding a monetary prize after the fact is not the same as subsidizing the development of alternative energy sources, the subsidization which I generally oppose (beyond tax incentives). I oppose direct government subsidies because the government has a pretty bad track record of picking winners and losers in the market - ethanol from corn being a prime example.

 

Efficient batteries will be developed just as quickly without the government dangling taxpayer money as a prize.

 

I do not strongly object to McCain's proposal but it is clearly an election year gimmick that will do far less to solve our problems than allowing the Texas-size oil production from ANWR to be brought on line in a few years.

 

Certainly, McCain's proposals to address high energy prices make more sense than Obama's raise taxes until prices drop approach to the problem.

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I don't agree that the market won't spur research at the level needed. I truly believe that if alternative fuels were practical at a price to consumers less than gas is now, they would be here. But I believe in the free market and the invisible hand more than nearly anything in the world. :lol:
:thumb: If we had a free market in the energy field - it would work. The government has done enough damage in this area and it is time for politicians to stop meddling and let the market do its work.
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All political figures posture. It is part of the political game. I don't blame Mr. McCain for trying to secure an advantage.

I agree. 90% of what you hear come out of Obama and McCain's mouths in the next 4 months will be nothing more than "vote for me" garbage. Keep a few blocks of salt handy.

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