“It is not seen that as our shopkeeper has spent six francs upon one thing, he cannot spend them upon another. It is not seen that if he had not had a window to replace, he would, perhaps, have replaced his old shoes, or added another book to his library. In short, he would have employed his six francs in some way, which this accident has prevented.”
– Frédéric Bastiat (1850)
Making the news last week was a new “economic impact” study funded by a trade association representing the nuclear industry. The study purports to show that the nuclear industry in North and South Carolina generates $25 billion dollars annually and supports 29,000 jobs. The study funded by the industry group Carolinas Nuclear Cluster would like to believe that such activity is a per se good, the marketplace notwithstanding.…
“The net subsidies formulation would be the correct standard for comparing subsidies to different energy sources…. Net subsidies would include not only the monetized value of policies that subsidize the relevant industries but would subtract out the monetized value of policies that penalize those industries.”
While a complete accounting might be difficult, this is not a reason for pretending that it is not necessary. Best estimates should be made.”
Consider the following two quite different verdicts on the winners and losers from U.S. energy subsidy policy, the first from a pro-renewable energy organization and the second from a free-market energy group.
The federal government provided substantially larger subsidies to fossil fuels than to renewables. Subsidies to fossil fuels—a mature, developed industry that has enjoyed government support for many years—totaled approximately $72 billion over the study period, representing a direct cost to taxpayers.