No one should question why the general public doesn’t trust politicians. Proof of this is Rick Perry. Before you start yelling at me, let me explain.
Recall in 2011, when Perry – then a Republican candidate for president — called for three departments he would eliminate from the federal government: Commerce, Education, and (after forgetting the third during the debate but later remembering), Energy. And why not? The federal government has no business employing nearly 45,000 people and spending ~$8 billion to regulate and/or promote commerce. On education with a budget of $77 billion and 4,500 employees, the federal government should cede power of education to the states. Finally, do you suppose we could eliminate a good chunk of Energy’s 93,000 employees and nearly $13 billion budget?
In other words, Perry was mostly right. And yet, during the DOE hearing, we get this:
My past statements made over five years ago about abolishing the Department of Energy do not reflect my current thinking. In fact, after being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy, I regret recommending its elimination.”
Let’s look at what the DOE is supposed to do. From WhiteHouse.gov:
The Department of Energy (DOE) is charged with advancing the national, economic, and energy security of the United States; promoting scientific and technological innovation in support of that mission; and ensuring the environmental cleanup of the national nuclear weapons complex.
Fine. That’s what we’re told. However (emphasis mine),
Prior to DOE, the federal government played a very limited role in energy policy and development. Presumed scarcity, excessive dependence on OPEC nations, distrust in markets, and the search for energy independence became the foundation for what is now a $32.5 billion bureaucracy in search for relevance. A series of energy policies have done little to contribute to the abundance of affordable energy that fuels a growing economy.
What DOE has done is squander money on the search for alternative energy sources. In the process, it enabled Bootlegger and Baptist schemes that enriched crony capitalists who are all too willing to support the flawed notion that government can pick winners and losers. For 2017, a large chunk of DOE spending–$12.6 billion, or 39 percent—is earmarked to “support the President’s strategy to combat climate change.” This is not a justifiable use of taxpayer dollars.
What Perry should have said:
Ladies and gentlemen, the Department of Energy has a few worthwhile uses, some of which I’ve recently learned after having talked to a number of experts. While I remain clear that the DOE’s budget should be cut due to goals not in America’s best interests, such as researching and funding initiatives to combat the hoax of catastrophic man-made climate change, my number one goal is to protect the American people from a nationwide blackout of the electrical grid. This will be my sole focus for the next four years.
If we must spend taxpayers’ money on something related to energy, and since politicians adore the word “infrastructure” so much, let’s at least fortify our energy infrastructure and put measures in place to protect us from an electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) that could originate from a large solar flare or storm, or a nuclear weapon detonated high enough in the atmosphere that would knock out the electrical grid of the majority of the continental US and Canada.
If you think catastrophic climate change is scary (it’s not, because it’s not real), consider what would happen if we lost all electricity for a couple years. If you haven’t read One Second After, I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s a well-written fictional story surrounding just such an event – getting hit with an EMP. There aren’t too many things that keep me up at night; this is one of them.
Secretary Perry, get on it.