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    US News: “Generation We’s Apollo Project”, Me: “What a dumb idea”

    I saw this in the online version of US News:

    …he’s urging both presidential campaigns to focus on one mega-idea the kids endorsed: an Apollo-style approach to the energy crisis. His plan is to create a department of new energy and give it $30 billion to $40 billion a year to invent the next best energy source. And put a 15-year cap on the department’s life. “They need votes, and 70 percent of gen we-ers want this,” says Greenberg, an Obama backer eager for either campaign to adopt his plan.

    To which I responded (first!):

    What a dumb idea. Governments are no good at “inventing” anything. The Apollo project and the Manhattan project are the exceptions (and they had clearly defined goals).

    The same thing could be accomplished by:

    1) Increase basic science research grants through the Dept of Energy and NSF.

    2) Sponsor prizes to be awarded when certain energy producing threshold are met.

    3) Get government regulations out of the way of the entrepreneurs who will make this happen.

    This is simple. It does not require dozens of “deputy assistant under secretaries” and the like.

    Also, little public money (e.g. current taxes or debt obligations) is spent without success being incurred.