Innovation and “green” energy, Part I

Sewing machines for home and industry changed the world

As news of yet another failure of a solar energy company comes to us from Detroit, we decided to step back and look at innovation through the years.

Readers will have their own experiences and examples, but we’re thinking specifically of the sewing machine boom of the 1800s. The U.S. was aflame with inventors at the time (still is, but it’s harder now), looking for an easy fortune. Some made it, some didn’t.

The Singer Sewing Machine company was the one that triumphed over dozens of rivals, with a blend of technical skills, marketing savvy and good lawyers, who sued the pants off of anybody who had the temerity to copy or imitate any of their developments.

The same thing was happening in the world of automobiles. Hundreds of automakers flourished at the turn of the 20th century – in our mind we can almost hear the cacophony of horns blaring, motors coughing, and inventors sweating. They made cars powered by electricity, gasoline and steam.

There will be more about this exciting time in tomorrow’s post, but today we want to conclude with our observations about the idiocy of the government trying to pick winners in the economy.

You can say elected officials have good intentions when they decide to take steps toward nationalizing industries. Or don’t even allow industries to get started on their own. We’re thinking here of space exploration. We say – so what? Intentions are irrelevant, results are all that count.

Top-down, government control of an economy was, is and always will be destructive for citizens and for the economy as a whole. There is a century of evidence for this statement, so the proof is left to the reader.

However, the comments on the news item linked above tell us all we need to know about government pretending to boost an industry. We now know these programs are to help campaign donors, known as buying votes.

But let’s give the last word to the voice of experience:

“My brother owns a large roofing company which operates in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. Reps from solar panel companies have been pleading for him to sell solar panels when replacing roofs and installing new home roofs. Home owners refuse to pay the ridiculous price. They cannot afford it and find out the warranty on the panels & power supply is one year or until the manufacturer declares bankruptcy. Not only that, the power supplied can barely power 1/5 of the home… when the sun is out. Forget cloudy, rainy, snowy days. Total government subsidized failure. We all knew it. Just a Monopoly money game….”


About InvestingforOne

I've been investing in various assets by myself using a discount broker for many years. Over that time, I've developed some theories that others might find useful. Plus, there is more to investing than money. Time, talent, work, friends, family all go into developing a good and satisfactory strategy.
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