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The Conservative Reader:

smoking turbineTo kick off the IWEA conference at HyVee Hall, both the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor took turns at the podium to celebrate Iowa’s commitment to wind power. I was there to take notes and to take a look around.

The Governor’s comments were short, citing Iowa’s adoption of wind energy standards, the lease royalty income for landowners, the jobs associated with the wind energy sector, Iowa’s exporting of wind-generated power, and used a comment on the importance of the STEM curriculum (science, technology, engineering, and math) to introduce Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds, for whom STEM is something of a pet project.

Knowledge-based Economy

The Lieutenant Governor’s comments centered around education; preparing the young for the jobs of the “knowledge-based economy,” which I put in quotes because she said that exactly, and this happens to be one of the phrases that triggers irritation in your favorite derelict lawyer – turned political dissident.

The idea behind the knowledge-based economy comes from the plan for the post-Cold War America. As the Soviet Union wound down, the plans for a global, integrated economy that were shelved shortly after the Second World War were revisited.

America, which up until then had relied on its overwhelming industrial output for its wealth, decided that the new comparative advantage would be in the “knowledge economy.” Governments, businesses, and foundations associated with education began planning academic curricula for the new economy which they imagined would take effect.

Because Americans would be far too rich from tech stocks and mortgaged houses to bother with the dirty fingernails of manufacturing, those who needed income would have to cater to the needs of the newly wealthy and the best jobs for the new service economy would only be open to the educated.

Thus, we were saddled with an educational model designed for an economy that was to be designed in accordance with political speculations and not real human needs, and the entire thing blew up. NAFTA turned factory workers into store clerks and Mexican subsistence farmers into illegal immigrants, college turned young Americans into Helots, and the jobs of the “knowledge-based economy” have not materialized except inside the government and government-supported industries. (See “Think College is Critical? Bureau of Labor Statistics Projections Suggest Otherwise”)

Public-Private Partnership. Read: State Corporatist Socialism

The final comment by the Lieutenant Governor was a pitch for the public-private project called the Skilled Iowa Initiative. I checked out their website and apparently the entire initiative is to promote the National Career Readiness Certificate.

Brought to you by the people from ACT, it allows you to prove that you can read and add, which you used to be able to prove by graduating from the second grade. Then again, you can’t get “Platinum Certification” from the second grade.

Wind-Industrial Complex

As I walked through the main hall and examined the exhibitor booths, the thing that jumped out at me was just how much of the wind energy industry that really isn’t the wind energy industry.

Construction companies, community colleges, environmental consultants, computer services, and even law firms are in on the act. The IWEA appears to have close relationships with the Nyemaster firm – who had a booth there – as well as the Brown Winick firm – the IWEA website indicates that a couple of their directors are partners at Brown Winick – both of Des Moines.

Hippies often like to cite Dwight Eisenhower in regard to defense spending, particularly his comment that “In the Councils of Government we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence – whether sought or unsought – by the Military-Industrial Complex.”

If you watch his entire Farewell Address – which is about 15 minutes and available on You tube – you will see that Ike was warning about the situation we have right now; an economy too heavily dominated by the public sector, where government subsidy is substituted for private sector growth, and when private interests grow dependent on certain government programs and thus become vociferous lobbyists for continuing their own line items.

“Weighed in the light of a broader consideration”

What have we done, besides building another state-sponsored pressure group? Turning off the tax credits would provoke hostility from the entire structure of energy consultants, lawyers, and lobbyists.

But, then again, who would want to upset the apple cart; these are “industrial jobs” after all, and landowners are earning royalties, and we now export wind-generated electricity (the United States is also the largest exporter of military hardware), so when electric bills go up to cover the installation costs of these turbines ( as reported by the Cedar Rapids Gazette, “Alliant Energy seeks 13.8 percent rate increase,”) well, that is just progress.

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