• Arne Mortensen

Better than the Department of Energy

July 2009

Better than the Department of Energy

Looking to the government to solve problems is fruitless. We may grant the government an A+ for intentions, but none can claim more than a D- for the success of any major program, e.g. Amtrak, war on poverty, etc. For 30 years or so (since 1977) we have had the Department of Energy trying to solve our dependency on foreign energy. Our oil imports as a percentage of our consumption have gone as follows: 1977-46%, 1989-50%, and 2007-66%. Meanwhile, looking at the current year the DOE has 16,000 employees, 100,000 contractors, and a $24 billion budget. And what have we to show for the money and effort we spend in this way?

We need to stop being a Charlie Brown kicking at the football that Lucy claims to be holding for us. We need to resort to the only thing that has ever brought material progress to our lives, the inventive and entrepreneurial spirit of people in private enterprise. We can do this avoiding the immense bureaucracy and entrenched special interests (potential corruption) and saving a huge amount of money by offering prizes, much like a Nobel Prize, but one with rigorously defined testable criteria. The prize for a truly (to be defined) useful energy solution could be $10 Billion (with a B) or more and would be a bargain at that. Imagine what private investors would do for such a prize, particularly if there were some patent protection of some kind to sweeten the pot.

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