Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Paul Krugman:

Gayer doesn’t just have a logical problem; he appears to be unaware that there is a large economics literature on the subject of the energy-efficiency gap: the apparent failure of consumers and firms to take energy-saving measures that would actually save them money.

There appears to be a regular right-wing talking point that environmentalism, as part of the liberal agenda, is intended to strangle businesses and reduce our standard of living. Disregarding the personal measures - for which the point would be that we should reconsider what energy use actually benefits our standard of living - and focusing on corporate-infrastructural measures, the point is that energy efficiency would actually benefit businesses.

This seems to be merely one of many problems stemming from the focus on short-term profitability rather than long-term longevity, which I'd presume stems from the increased speed with which an investor can shift investments. Not that investor convenience is the problem to be solved, we just need to address the major differences in the mindset of a publicly-traded company versus a privately-held small business.

While campaigning in 2008, the president suggested $250,000 as fairly arbitrary dividing point between small and large businesses -- and thusly made Samuel Joe Wurzelbacher famous. I would suggest that a much better dividing line would be whether a company is publicly traded. If you answer only to yourself and your customers, we call you a small business. If you answer in addition to a group of unrelated investors whose interest is only in profitability, you require a great deal more regulation.

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