Interventionism & fantasylands

Interventionism & fantasylands

Some in the “unbiased media” sure are funny – in an odd, dichotomous and hypocritical way — when it comes to matters of public policy.

Take, for instance, the reportage on the University of Pittsburgh accepting a $4.2 million grant from the Charles Koch Foundation to, as the Post-Gazette reported it, “study how political institutions, markets and technology affect societal well-being nationally and around the world.”

Of course, the P-G also reported that the “Koch Foundation is a philanthropic endeavor set up by the conservative and controversial billionaire industrialist.”

Other reportage tagged the foundation as “right wing.”

Some at Pitt have voiced their concerns.

Of course; it’s academia, after all.

But when’s the last time “the media” or university faculty tagged, oh, say, the Ford Foundation as the “left-wing” operation it is?

All that said, the Koch grant to Pitt will help fund The Center for Governance and Markets at the university’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.

Kudos to Pitt for such an endeavor; let’s hope it conducts the research in a fashion that does not allow left-wing thought to become some warped baseline of “truth.”

As the announcement of the deal characterized it, the new center will be “a hub for a global network of researchers and practitioners in the areas of governance and institutional analysis, enabling a faculty to bridge the gap between theory and real-world problems through supporting fieldwork, interdisciplinary research and community engagement.”

Of course, what scares the bejeebers out of some of the “progressive” academic establishment at Pitt is that the research will, yet again, expose the myriad policy fallacies of recidivist government interventionists.

Sound public policy research cannot occur in a fantasyland of denial.

Speaking of interventionism and fantasylands, the Post-Gazette editorialized on Tuesday that, as the headline and sub-headline put it:

“Pennsylvania should offer greater incentives for solar power” and “At this nascent stage in solar energy and industry, attractive incentives like these could ignite a spark.”

No, it shouldn’t. And, no, it can’t.

Never mind that this supposed bright spot in the alleged green energy “revolution” has become a very expensive black hole and a poster child for the folly of taxpayer subsidies to this, that and any other industry.

Simply put, as long-time environmental scientist James Conca put it at Forbes.com in 2017:

“There is no doubt that these subsidies incentivized renewables, but what do they do to the cost of the electricity generated by them? They actually increase the cost. However, the cost is transferred from the ratepayer to the taxpayer, and so goes unnoticed by most Americans.”

Such cost offloading is not something to encourage but something to dissuade and deride.

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).