Bradley’s Political Capitalism Project (Part IV: Who is John Galt?)
In the closing act, we have the protagonist foisting on the world a set of insights, which we proceeded to dissect in Act II and Act III. Is there a happy ending to our play? Alas, it is a tragedy.
The Bradley Project, which can be overviewed at his website Political Capitalism, brilliantly narrates the ethos of what he calls “Heroic Capitalism” in contrast with “Political Capitalism.” As applied to energy policy, Bradley is largely correct in his insights that the energy industry has become so mixed up with the mixed economy that corporate leaders legitimately fear that capitalist advocacy will be punished.
As an out-of-the-closet energy policy market advocate, I have often been privately besieged to take public positions that corporations were loath to take publicly because of their fear of regulatory retribution.
Thus, we have lost any truly national champions for the views expressed in the Bradley Project. We have bit players. I have run small pro-market energy think tanks for more than a decade, after a career of almost 20 years in government advocating pro-competitive energy policies. Bradley has run the Institute for Energy Research even longer. We have been on the front lines, as have some others in the think tank community, credit the Cato Institute, Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, and even to some extent, Brookings Institution.
But Bradley names only one nationally recognized corporate advocate of pro-competitive energy policies: Charles Koch. I would argue, however, that while Mr. Koch has applied his pro-competitive thinking to his company and has generously supported some think tank efforts, he has not really taken on the mantle of the national leader of a free-market-in-energy movement.
Indeed, the most recognized name in energy is T. Boone Pickens, an entrepreneur who never saw a political intervention into markets that didn’t excite him if he could make money with it.
The list of Ken Lay look-alikes, on the other hand, is a mile long. Who is John Galt?
At best, the think tank community is splintered and woefully underfunded, especially compared to the enemies of competitive energy markets, both on the left and the right. Additionally, most think-tank effort concentrates on holding at bay the 600-pound gorilla—climate change.
Where are the voices for a radical overhaul of energy policy so that it makes sense for the 21st Century? We are meeting in a phone booth next Friday if anyone wants to join us.