Monday, August 18, 2008

The inner city could help

I've said it before. Let me say it again.

If I were about 15-20 years younger, I would make a career change. (Is a career what I have?)

I would put together an investment fund group and I would start a new energy company.

Our product?

Solar panels.

My hiring practices would be a bit unorthodox. Most of my employees, the vast majority of my workforce, would be drawn from the inner city unemployed and underemployed. Many of my team would be ex-incarcerated and looking for a new start and a new life. I think our company could answer that call.

My marketing strategy would include a new wrinkle or two as well. I'd bill our little company something like "Patriot Power."

That would fit well because we would be responding to the nation's need for increased national security, while decreasing the production of greenhouse gases via the use of petroleum products.
In the process, we would help grow the economy and inject new economic power into the inner city.

In short, we would be helping free everyone from the need to import and burn Middle Eastern and other foreign oil while making a positive contribution to improving the environment, stimulating our sagging economy and putting people with real challenges on the right path.

One huge rate-limiter would be the response of the American Congress. Making the shift to a new energy strategy and product will require subsidies and seed funding to build the necessary infrastructure and to train new workers.

Would you invest in my new company?



c hand said...

Larry, leaving out gov subsidies, how much private capital would your enterprise need? And why hasn't Gore, Edwards, Kerry, Clinton, Kennedy, Pelosi, or any other multimillionare on the left led the way?

Anonymous said...

Larry - way off topic but nice article in the DMN this morning. I am happy to see the DMN shining the light on some - and only a small part - of the work you and the rest of the CDM folks are doing to help those who are not as fortunate as we are. By the way, went fishing in Florida on vacation and thought of you.
David D.

Travis Stanley said...

If I had money to invest, I'd invest for sure.

Larry James said...

c hand, haven't done a serious analysis, but beginning numbers fall between $5 and $10 million to get started. Govt role involves policy and infrastructure issues. I'm not sure how those you've mentioned are or would invest their money, but I'd be willing to talk to any and all, left and right as I put the fund together. You know, c hand, the whole world and every issue in it just don't boil down to left and right.

Michael Davis-Dallas Progress said...

Larry - this is great stuff. I will suggest this to urban policy committee.

Chris said...

If everyone parked their cars tomorrow, we would still need 5 million barrels of oil a day. Dozens of things we view as necessities are made of petroleum products, even solar panels. Tune in The History Channel Sat. night, Aug. 23 at 6:00PM CST for a full discussion of this.

Larry James said...

Chris, even if all that you say every post is true, no reason not to start cutting into that barrel total. We need to be free from Middle Eastern oil. My point is my friends here could help. And then there is the national will to tackle and achieve a giant goal. . .have we given up on our ability to do the wonderful???

Chris said...

By the way, I thought Obama was a complete disaster Saturday night. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

Not right now, I wouldn't.

The one very small federal subsidy for tax credits expires at the end of the year and I don't think you can get your business going before then.

Without it, right now solar energy from photovoltaics costs about $.30 kilowatt--double the cost on the open market.

There are some promising developments--for example if the claims of Nanosolar are true then it's already found a way to manufacture photovoltaics at a cost competitive with the open market. But you can't buy from Nanosolar yet, its website says it has already sold out its production for the year.

Without a technological breakthrough, or government subsidies, your solar business would be limited to people doing it solely our of principle. I think you'd go broke.

Now, if either government subsidies or a new technology (which possibly already exists) comes along, then I'd put my money in in a second.

Charles said...


I think I'm not surprised at your "thoughts." Or are they Rush's? Or Hannity's? Regardless please pass my compliments along to the thinker who'd already written their review before the event.

Reviews from righty sources are always very exaggerated.

Admittedly enjoying using your standards for "facts,"

PS Justin, I am interested in an conservative response to Larry's post and Saturday's show if you're still around.

Chris said...


Your post didn't make any sense. Would you like to clarify?

Charles said...

I apologize - I shouldn't have gotten snippy. Chris, what could Obama have said that you would not have considered "a complete disaster"? You know you disagree with him. If he'd said anything you did agree with, you'd accuse him of pandering or flip-flopping. Similarly is there anything McCain could have said that would have made you thought he came out worse off than Obama? Your question seems strongly to be just to provoke, not to discuss, and to have been set in your mind long before the actual event.

Justin said...

I am around Charles, though I doubt most people would consider me a conservative. I like to think of myself as an anarcho-capitalist of sorts... but that's beside the point.

I think that its a great idea to use people in the inner city to start a business. Its something I myself would be very interested in doing. I don't know that I'd invest in solar panels though. Like a commenter above said, if the technology is there for something to be profitable, it will happen. You don't need subsidies, because subsidies cause several problems. Most importantly, they move resources away from things that will be of net benefit to people as a whole. For right now, oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear, those are the efficient energy sources that we have. Wind turbines and solar panels are improving in their efficiency, but they still are not a replacement for oil.

The dependency on foreign oil thing is a crock of crap. We get most of our oil from places that aren't in the middle east. Its something the right uses to acheive its ends, and the left uses the same way. We have a global economy and the oil gets where its needed. It might be more expensive, but that makes alternatives more profitable.

The thing is, right now, they are not profitable. Its a waste of valuable resources for us to prop up companies that are net losses of wealth to the detriment of companies who are helping to create more wealth.

But like I said, I like the general idea of using people in the inner city who are unemployed, or underemployed. I think that's a very christian thing to do. You may have to charge more at your business in order to pay fo rthe less productivity of likely lower skilled workers, but I believe people would not mind paying the extra money to give a hand up to people.

Anonymous said...

Laughable, Justin. You operate with about 1/2 the facts, or maybe you just ignore them. The US depends unduly on foreign sources of petroleum. If we didn't have to do that, we would be better off in many ways, as Larry's post implies.

Subsidies bad? Tell that to the major US oil companies. Public investment will be necessary for many new approaches to energy production including new delivery grids, like what Boone Pickens needs to deliver his wind power. Sometimes ideology blinds us from opportunity and new capacities.

phil j

Larry James said...

phil j, thanks for the post! Your ping hit as I was looking at the Pickens Plan website. Check it out at:

Pretty interesting.

Justin said...

T Boone is absolutely the worst kind of businessperson. Someone who uses public money to amass an even larger fortune. He invests heavily in natural gas... surprise surprise, he wants to use government to force the production of wind power (with some private backing, so it doesn't appear as shady) but the "cheap" natural gas won't be quite as cheap when we are using it to power our cars.

Not to mention, ole T Boone himself has gotten into the turbine business and stands to make a killing if the government adopts his plan. And don't think he's not paying for a ton of lobbyists to make sure his plan becomes reality.

This is EXACTLY what I'm talking about when I talk about subsidies being a bad idea. Not only is it inefficient to use natural gas to power cars

but its gonna make multi billionare TB even more fabulously wealthy. Subsidies don't help anyone but the people who are typically all ready very wealthy who can afford lobbyists to get the government to steal money from hard working folks to line their pockets even more.

I am not a hypocrite on this issue. I don't think the government should redistribute wealth to anyone, poor or rich. There are unintended consequences to everything the government does, and more often than not, they cause problems that were worse than the original ones.

Phil J, I appreciate you not hiding behind anonymity. But your ideology is what is blinding you here. And thanks for backing up anything you said with any facts. There are all sorts of argumentative issues with how you dismissed me, most notably the fact that you claim my views are laughable because I don't have a command of the issues, and then go on to show your lack of understanding of the situation at large.

The government is almost never the answer to a problem. The answer is free people making rational decisions. I'd suggest you think long and hard before treating me like a mental midget. You've got some learning to do yourself.

Daniel Gray said...

Phil, one point about Justin's comments on oil imports. He's right -- while our oil addiction is controlled almost completely by the global market, the middle east is a small portion of that.

Of the top 15 countries exporting oil to the US, only 2 are in the middle east -- Saudi Arabia and Iraq. They comprise less than 20% of imports. Our biggest oil merchants are Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, and Nigeria (with Saudi Arabia second). Canada alone provides 15-20% of our imports.

DOE Import Statistics.

Daniel Gray said...

Sorry, Kuwait is on the top 15, but only nominally...

Justin said...

Thanks Daniel!

Anonymous said...

Looking at Daniel's numbers from the DOE, I notice that Venezuela, Nigeria, Angola and Iraq together account for 3M barrels of oil a day. The loss of imports from any one of them could cause a serious spike in prices; together they could cripple our economy. All are incredibly unstable places and/or downright hostile to the US. Now why in the world would we not do everything in our power to limit our dependence on such countries?

Justin said...

short of nationalizing our own oil fields, as well as any possible oil fields in our country, as well as the oil fields of our neighbors (mexico and canada) we are just as dependent. If those countries have issues, no matter how much wind power we are using, or what, the price of oil,which is a global market, will still rise considerably. We are all dependent on everyone in a global market.

Cheryl Russell said...

That sounds amazing! I have really enjoyed reading your blog!