As Far as the Eye Can See

Monday, July 06, 2009

During a flight over West Texas last week, I spotted something very odd from the window. At first glance, it seemed to be a hilly subdivision, with roads winding through some hills.

I've seen things like that plenty of times, but something drew my attention back to the ground. There was something funny about this "subdivision." What was with the light poles?

Or were they light poles?

I took a closer look and saw that I was actually looking at massive wind farm, most likely part of the Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center, based on my best guess of our flight path. Its size, to which even the image shown here can't do justice, was mind-boggling. It stretched all the way to the horizon and I probably spent several minutes looking at it, stunned at how huge it is, before simply becoming bored with it. I began to wonder when environmentalists will finally add scarring of the earth along with their complaints about bird deaths to their objections to the technology. Every tower sat on a parcel of cleared land.

In any event, I was also reminded of something I encountered about a year ago concerning a scheme by T. Boone Pickens for the government to force the American economy to shift towards wind generation as a primary source of electricity. Back then, I wondered:

If wind power were really such a great cash cow, why can't or won't Pickens finance this himself? Why insulate him from losses if he's wrong, while guaranteeing that everyone in Texas will subsidize his next fortune at best or take his bath at worst?
According to Wikipedia, the "Pickens Plan" -- of which the fleecing of his fellow Texans was just a part -- would cost $1 trillion. Not that this Congress has shown one jot of resistance to the temptation to spend huge amounts of money or micromanage our lives, but Pickens continues his full-court press for this scheme.

In fact, Pickens even seems to have borrowed a page from Barack Obama's playbook, busy as he is "organizing the New Energy Army in every Congressional District" in the name of "[telling] Congress to reduce our dependence on foreign oil." Too bad this approach -- which is just a type of central planning -- will only result in America needlessly restricting its access to cheap, reliable energy. Think "Terror-Free Oil" -- but without the oil.

Ever since I first moved to Texas when I was seventeen, the "big sky" of its flat landscape always made me think of America's vast potential. But now, thanks to T. Boone Pickens, whose government mooching is a betrayal of his American heritage, it is being transformed into a symbol of massive government waste and tyranny, one windmill at a time.

-- CAV


john said...


you and your readers should be aware of boone's other motive in all this hullabaloo about wind (which is useless for baseload power generation since (a) the wind doesn't blow all the time and (b) the wind blows mostly at night, when power demand is a small fraction of what it is during the day). that motive is water. in an art-imitates-life plot twist reminiscent of "chinatown," pickens is coincidentally the largest owner of water rights in the country:

were his plan to be implemented, power lines would be built running from the texas panhandle into metropolitan areas like dallas. these same right-of-ways could allow pickens to pump water from land he owns to the dallas metroplex (for a handsome profit). currently, he cannot obtain the right-of-way, but were the power transmission infrastructure to be built by the government (using eminent domain to cut though the private property of thousands of individuals), this would give boone the right-of-way he needs:

Gus Van Horn said...


That's interesting and serves as just another example of how unprincipled, and willing to game the mixed economy rather than work to free it.

Water is, thanks to government intervention, artificially cheap, and this encourages wasteful use. I suspect that a privately-run water supply system would both encourage more judicious use of water as prices increased with demand and -- if prices became high enough in a given area -- open up new supplies of water, such as desalination, as their higher cost became justified.

In this scenario, Pickens will effectively get government subsidies to undercut competition that might, when all is said and done, actually be cheaper than sending his water hundreds of miles away.

That is, of course, on top of the fact that it is immoral to use the government to manipulate the economy through the massive violation of individual rights this will entail.


z said...

I usually agree with you Gus, but this time, I think you need your eyes checked. That is quite obviously a picture of the virgin Mary;)

Gus Van Horn said...

I think you're on (to) something there, z!

Jim May said...

I saw those when I flew into Houston last year (and we had some beers). I thought they were oil rigs ;(

Gus Van Horn said...

They do sneak up on you when you can't easily see the vanes, don't they?