Clean Energy and System Purism
Much of the 20th century revolved around a conflict between capitalism and socialism. On both sides there were many people willing to die for either system. My response is that a system - any system - is a tool and nothing more than a tool; and the point is not to be a purist to either system but to maximize benefits of all systems while doing away with their negative effects.
The capitalist purists like to assert that capitalism leads to opportunity and creation of wealth. In many situations it does just that, and where it does that it should be left free to do that. However as we have seen in recent decade capitalism also has its shortfalls; and there are many valid ways to correct these shortfalls without going the way of Lenin, Stalin or Mao.
I am not saying that making money is bad, and I do not believe in class wars. I am not against capitalism as such; I am against brainless and short-sighted practices such as burning the rainforest or flooding the atmosphere with CO2. These practices leave the world a worse place for oneself having been in it, and they are not justified through affirmation of a system - any system. They are not justified, period.
Using the mantra of capitalism to excuse these wrongs implicates capitalism and gives credibility to those who want to claim capitalism as such to be evil. Actions that destroy what one cannot recreate and poison the world for the future generation implicates not only everyone that does those actions but also everything that is used to justify them. The true benefits of capitalism come from ingenuity and innovation, not from stupidity and short-sightedness. And it is ingenuity and innovation in the energy sector that stand to actually improve the world for its inhabitants as economic theory supposes it does.
It is in fact ingenuity and innovation that make capitalism function as advertised; and that means solving energy needs of humanity in a way that maximizes intelligence and minimizes destruction, pollution and waste. The issues here are nothing less than the shape of the world in which our children will live. These problems can be corrected from within capitalism through large-scale implementation of clean energy solutions in market economy, or they can be corrected from without capitalism through government action toward that effect. To me it matters nothing as to who implements clean energy solutions, but the capitalist purist may find the first path preferable.
With democratic socialism, the main accomplishments have been health, education and security extended to the population; of course the main shortfall has been suffocating rigidity and gross inefficiency as well as lack of wealth creation and economic opportunity. The places that practice socialism stand to gain a lot from adopting capitalist economics while retaining their social accomplishments. Australia is frequently seen as the best place in the world to live because it has both economic opportunity and a social safety net; and this results in people receiving benefits of both systems while doing away with the flaws in each.
In all cases it must be remembered that people do not exist for the sake of the system; the system exists for the sake of its participants. People do not exist for the sake of either capitalism or socialism. Both capitalism and socialism exist for the sake of the people. This means that purism toward either system is wrong. The point is to maximize benefit, not to maximize system purism. And that is the case with both capitalism and democratic socialism.
The benefits of capitalism - opportunity, innovation and ingenuity - should be not only preserved but maximized. So should the security, health and education that come with democratic socialism. On this issue it is Australia, not America, that has the best idea.
The biggest downfall in economic theory is its failure to quantify nature. Property is defined as nature converted into productive use; but no value is put on nature. This results in brainless, destructive practices going under the banner of capitalism. And that not only leads to vast loss of what one has not created and cannot re-create. It makes capitalism look evil and gives power to those who want it gone.
I do not want capitalism gone. I want brainlessness and short-sightedness gone. And this means including nature in economic calculus, so that it becomes prohibitively expensive to do things that poison the world and so that the same tasks that are met through these brainless practices are met instead through real ingenuity and innovation. And that very much means moving to better and smarter energy technologies.
The result of this will be incentivization for innovation and ingenuity, resulting in capitalism actually functioning as advertised.
And it will result in people benefiting from capitalism, thus justifying and invigorating the capitalist system.