Thursday, June 07, 2007

Hillary Clinton's Anti-Innovation Debacle

Did you know that Hillary Clinton has introduced her "Innovation Agenda"? In truth, she should call it her Tubby, Bloated Government Bureaucracy Agenda, because that's truly what it is. I encourage you to read her position paper because I'm not making this stuff up.

* Establish a $50 billion "strategic energy fund" to devise ways to make the United States energy independent and reduce the threat of global warming.

Well, you know, there really aren't enough free-market incentives for better and cheaper energy sources. So Hillary intends to create a governmental bureaucracy that will invent our way to energy indpendence since the free-market isn't suitably efficient. I'd call it a boondoggle and a scam, but that understates its potential for abuse. And don't even get me going on global warming. I'd just encourage you to read about the UN, the IPCC and the blatant conflicts-of-interest associated with "anthropogenic climate change".

* Increase the basic research budgets 50 percent over 10 years at the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy's Office of Science, and the Defense Department, with more focus on the physical sciences and engineering, high-risk research, and E-science initiatives that link Internet-based tools, global collaboration, supercomputers, high-speed networks, and software for simulation and visualization.

That sounds inexpensive. And we're not just talking science, we're talking e-Science™! All we need to do is increase budgets by 50% (don't ask how that figure was arrived at) and we'll get Internet-based global collaboration supercomputers talking with each other over high-speed networks to simulate and visualize e-Science! Damn it, why didn't I think of that? And it might even be less than the $50 billion energy fund!

* Direct the federal agencies to award prizes in order to accomplish specific innovation goals.

Can I win a prize for my super-hybrid, fuel-efficient corn-mobile? It gets five miles to the cob, so I think I deserve a prize! I haven't found a company that's keen on the idea, but a federal agency would be a great choice to fund my innovative corn-car!

* Triple the number of NSF fellowships to 3,000 a year and increase the size of each award by 33 percent to $40,000 a year.

This sounds like a cheap option: it's only $20,000,000 of your money. Just don't ask how Hillary arrived at these numbers; suffice it to say that it's a lot less expensive than her first choice.

* Provide tax incentives to encourage broadband deployment in underserved areas.

Tax incentives for the phone companies? Now that sounds like a good idea! Of course, some sources assert that the telcos already gamed taxpayers and never built the high-speed networks they had promised in underserved areas. Of Bruce Kushnick's book, "The $200 Billion Broadband Scandal," attorney Harold Feld wrote:

...[it] meticulously documents how the incumbent telcos have used the promise of broadband to win subsidies and regulatory goodies. The pattern Bruce describes is a fairly straightforward one. Bell companies go to [name state] legislature and promise to provide fiber networks (which will bring high-speed internet access, video services, jobs, education etc. to [name state]. All the telco asks in exchange is deregulation of prices, deregulation of competitive obligations (such as opening the network to rivals), and subsidies or tax incentives to reach the areas where it is not profitable to deploy. Then take the goodies, make some high profile efforts to deploy, then quietly forget about it while enjoying deregulated monopoly and tax subsidies. Don't worry, state legislators and the public will forget about it as well, and will accept the current state of the universe as the best possible world that can be achieved.

While apparently lifted from today's headlines, Kushnick traces this kind of behavior back to the early 1990s. His book asserts that this behavior has cost the U.S. tax payers over $200 Billion, at a minimum over the last ten years. Lest one ask “how could the Bells ever get away with such a thing?!?!” I will observe that what Kushnick documents are no secrets. Rather, like the purlioned letter, each broken promise, terminated project, absorbed tax incentive, and regulatory bonus happened in plain sight...

Kushnick estimates that the Bell companies overcharged north of $200 billion from 1992-2004 for these networks, including various financial perks. On average, Kushnick believes that each American household has already paid $2000 apiece for various network buildouts.

Thanks, telco lobbyists!

* * * * * * * * *

And what will pay for all of these government programs? Taxes. You and I will, once again, feed the mouths of thousands more bureaucrats and lobbyists.

Hillary's solution is taxes and government. Big government with a capital B. More bureaucracies. More grift. More waste.

And are you one of those poor souls who believes Hillary can duplicate Bill's go-go economy? Unless Tim Berners-Lee invents another world-wide web and Mr. Peabody dials us back to Y2K on the time machine, you'd be wise to think again.

I have two words for Hillary's anti-innovation, mega-taxation agenda: Economic. Disaster.

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