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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Steven Chu, unfiltered

Energy Secretary Steven Chu spoke at the National League of Cities conference Monday. Apparently it was not newsworthy enough to mention on the department’s news website.

However, C-SPAN was there. I came in late on the cable broadcast, but the entire presentation is available on its website.

Chu’s talk was the first 40 minutes of the 75 minute afternoon session. This is a pretty illuminating talk, in terms of showing both the Administration’s policies and his own personal philosophy. It made sense, it was consistent with policy and his career. In general, the Nobel Prize winner spoke like a science geek, particularly when he said spending more R&D on energy research will help America correct its energy imbalance.

The only troubling thing was that at the end, when he started talking about Americans having a moral obligation (as in World War II) to sacrifice their personal desires (e.g. 0-60 in 6 seconds) in the name of the greater good. The most charitable way to read this is that he’s using the bully pulpit to get people to do the right thing. A more troubling view would be that the Administration plans to coerce people to do what the government thinks is right, moving away from market mechanisms and personal choice.

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