Corporate Cover for the Environmental Left in the 1990s (“Enron Ascending”)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- September 6, 2018 5 Comments

“Under [Ken] Lay’s direction, Enron would restart the solar industry [in 1995], rescue the US wind industry [in 1997], and help legitimize the climate issue.”

“Enron saw green in green energy. Wind and solar as primary energies had new public policy rationales and powerful political constituencies. Specifically, global warming from fossil-fuel usage (via the enhanced greenhouse effect) was the new neo-Malthusian scare, and post–Gulf War concerns over energy security put petroleum on the defensive. Even more than this, renewables had public cachet for an energy company, particularly one that prized publicity and promoted a momentum stock.”

– Bradley, Enron Ascending: The Forgotten Years, pp. 530, 528, respectively.

Rent-seeking … strategic uses of government intervention…. corporativism. Many terms have described business lobbying within political capitalism where the political means replaces the economic means to financial success The result is bad profit, defined by classical-liberal entrepreneur Charles Koch as corporate income not created but politically obtained and thereby lost to the creators in the economic system.

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Contra-Capitalism as a Business Syndrome

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- March 27, 2018 5 Comments

“Beyond rent-seeking, a corporation can engage in other behaviors long decried by classical liberals, behaviors that might be characterized as contra-capitalism.”

Cronyism … Rent-seeking … Regulatory capture … Special-interest politics … Strategic uses of government intervention … Many terms have described business lobbying within the up-for-grabs socioeconomic system of political capitalism where the political means replaces the economic means[1] It results in what classical-liberal entrepreneur Charles Koch calls bad profit[2]

But beyond rent-seeking, a corporation can engage in other behaviors long decried by classical liberals, behaviors that might be characterized as contra-capitalism. Importantly, the corporation might not recognize these behaviors as an explicit strategy (Enron did not; Tesla does not). These separable behaviors are complementary.  And now, with a term, what was implicit can become explicit for the public policy and corporate-governance debate.

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T. Boone Pickens: Contra-Capitalist (a ‘man of system’ sought more fame and fortune)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- January 31, 2018 7 Comments

“The two greatest enemies of free enterprise in the United States … have been, on the one hand, my fellow intellectuals and, on the other hand, the business corporations of this country.”

– Milton Friedman. “Which Way for Capitalism?” Reason, May 1977, p. 21.

“To put it plainly, T. Boone Pickens is out to save America.”

– Carl Pope (Sierra Club). Quoted in Dean Calbreath, “Pickens Pitches Plans to Shift U.S. Away From Oil,” San Diego Union Tribune, June 25, 2008.

They are not against capitalism. They can be very charismatic, in the know, and mainstream. They may be industry leaders. They are always politically correct and receive good press. And they can, often do, pledge allegiance in the abstract to the American way of free enterprise.

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ExxonMobil’s Tillerson on Wind and Solar Subsidies (an argument to remember)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- September 21, 2017 6 Comments

“If I wanted to kill [tax subsidies], the thing to do is for Exxon Mobil to go and invest heavily in [wind and solar] and then Congress would immediately cancel the tax subsidy. Actually what they would do is they would just cancel it for us…. So we are not going to go into investments that are dependent on a government providing a tax system to make them viable.”

– Rex Tillerson, Quoted in Russell Gold, “Exxon Mobil: We Like Renewable Energy Subsidies. Wink, Wink.” Wall Street Journal (March 6, 2009).

Last week at MasterResource, I posted on current US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s 2013 views on climate science in light of consumer energy needs. He referenced the pause in increasing global temperatures in light of rising concentrations of greenhouse gas concentrations.

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Exxon Mobil and the Carbon Tax: ‘Upon Further Review’

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- January 10, 2017 2 Comments Continue Reading

NRG Energy’s David Crane: Energy Moralism Miscontrued

By -- March 2, 2015 1 Comment Continue Reading

Carbon Taxation: Just Say No (NAM-led letter represents a broad business front)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- May 24, 2013 2 Comments Continue Reading

Pickens Plan III: More Retreat but Still Errant (SPR oil for nat gas)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- May 14, 2013 3 Comments Continue Reading

Why We Should Love the Oil Companies (Straight talk from an industry outsider)

By -- June 15, 2012 13 Comments Continue Reading

Remembering ‘Green’ Enron (Part I: The Kyoto Moment)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- December 1, 2011 20 Comments Continue Reading