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Saturday, January 17, 2015

How Green Is My Tea Party!

Sauls become Pauls with remarkable frequency. I quit attending my local Tea Party group when an old line environmentalist began attending and eventually dominating the meetings. The Tea Party, as any dynamic movement does, attracts a few "true believers". That is the term the longshoreman philosopher, Eric Hoffer used to describe compulsive adherents to mass movements in his 1951 classic, The True Believer: Thoughts On The Nature Of Mass Movements. It's one of the most insightful books one could read. According to Hoffer the zealot perceives his life to be controlled by an external villain such as a government, a religion, or an economic structure. The cause is secondary to the movement as the adherent feeds off the movement to obtain "self-renunciation". His loyalty is suspect as causes seem almost interchangeable. He is, in Hoffer's words "a guilt ridden hitchhiker who thumbs a ride on every cause from Christianity to Communism.
Atlanta Tea Party cofounder Debby Dooley seems to fit the Hoffer model. she has partnered with the Sierra Club to form the Green Tea Party coalition. This group's latest project is the repeal of a Florida law that prevents solar companies from installing leased solar panels on residential rooftops.
“This is about energy freedom. Energy choice!” explains Dooley. “We want to allow green energy companies to compete in the market. Let the market decide what’s best. It’s pro-consumer!”
Actually Dooley is asking the government, not the market, to do what's best for SolarCity and the residents who sign up for this fleece the ratepayer scheme and the public be damned. Under the plan SolarCity or a competitor would lease and install solar panels on private homes. The home owner could then sell the power through a meter plan back to the utility, pay SolarCity its cut and live happily ever after.
“People are hypocritical when they say, “Ooooh, Solyndra. Look at the subsidies solar receives!’” says Dooley. “But they’re silent on the subsidies coal and nuclear have received since the 1940s.”
What subsidies has coal received since the 1940"s?
So Dooley sees herself as a green Joan of Arc. She inveighs against the monopoly power of utilities ignoring the fact that the concept of a natural monopoly was argued before the Supreme Court the century before last. The court reasoned that the public was ill served by competing power companies stringing redundant wiring throughout the community and building redundant power plants. No one argues that this is best of all possible worlds but no one has come up with a better scheme either.
So what would Dooley do? Force the utilities to allow her and her followers to use their lines. And who would pay for the maintenance and tree trimming on the lines. The utility and ultimately the ratepayers. This is a free market?
Solar power is literally a fair weather friend. "Oh we don't want to compete all the time", she would argue, "just when it's advantageous to us. We'll be there during peak demand when the utility could sell the most electricity and bug out after sundown". In the event of a hurricane will the solar home crowd be recruiting the hundreds of out of state workers to repair the grid? Don't be silly.
This queen of solar power and friend of the Sierra Club is also National Coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots who have refused to take a position on the matter. They are one of the two national organizations that was too busy to help Dave Brat roll Eric Cantor. Maybe they will want to merge with the Sierra Club.

1 comment:

  1. Pauls do become Sauls but I worry that at least one Paul has become a Saul.

    I loved Hoffer's book. It was so crystal clear in its insights that were overlooked by the intelligentsia. So distinctly American.

    The Tea Party movement does have its flotsam and jetsam of true believers. More concerning are the chronic attention-seekers who don't truly believe much of anything other than that they should be in the spotlight. I would not be surprised if Charlie Crist resurfaced as a Tea Party candidate now that his conversion to Democrat has not gone so well. Can Bob Barr be close behind? Haven't heard from Ralph Nader in a while.