Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ooooooklahoma, where the wind and sun are such a paaaain...

I don't usually talk about news or politics here, but I'm about to make an exception.

This has been making the rounds in the news recently. And frankly, it cheeses me off.

A number of people are framing this story as a problem with greedy power companies. And as Americans, we do seem to have real trouble learning the law of diminishing returns (that is, making twice as much money might make you twice as happy, but making ten, a hundred, a thousand times as much money doesn't create the same ratio of cash to happiness -- or as the hip-hop community puts it, "mo' money, mo' problems."). Our world runs on an almost universal monetary economy, so we do need a certain amount of cash to live -- but as Douglas Adams helpfully points out, this is odd because on the whole it isn't the small green pieces of paper that are unhappy.

Nonetheless, as a small-L libertarian, I don't have a problem with people using their particular genius to make money. My general rule of thumb is that peaceable people should be left alone to do as they choose. But the moment you start infringing on other people's freedoms, you break that rule. And do not misunderstand it: this news story isn't about "fairness" or about making money. It's about an organization abusing a long-held position of power to persecute those whose only "crime" is trying to be more self-sufficient. Household solar and windpower systems, far from being a threat to the power grid, ease the strain on the system. In essence, Oklahomans who are putting up their own money to install home solar and wind systems are doing the power companies a favor. And the companies want to penalize them for it. This goes to stupidity and beyond.
At this point it's up to Gov. Mary Fallin to see through the buttery, flaky layers of dumb in this bill and veto it. If the power companies and the Oklahoma state government then want to start a fight about net metering, that's just dandy. But in the meantime, power to the people!

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