May 25

Good News from Goldman Sachs?

Wind PowerGoldman Sachs, a financial behemoth once famously referred to as a giant “vampire squid” by Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone, has long been accused, and rightfully so, of providing no real value to society generally and existing only to maximize profits by extracting wealth from the economy, oftentimes at its own clients’ expense. While Goldman certainly has no plans to alter the way in which it does business, it recently announced plans to make an investment that flies in the face of conventional conservative wisdom. The company plans to invest at least $40 billion into the alternative energy market over the next ten years, even in the face of expiring tax credits and incentives. The company exists, and will always exist, to make money. Truckloads of cold hard cash and huge numbers of gigabytes of 1′s and 0′s. So, why is Goldman Sachs investing so much into a sector that nearly each end every Republican views as expensive and impractical? Recent statistical evidence suggests that certain alternative energy sources are closing the cost gap with traditional coal and natural gas electricity generators, and it appears that Goldman, as Taibbi argued, isn’t all that interested in politics, instead it only seeks out new sources of profit. Goldman evidently wants to be out front and entrench itself as a major player in the energy sources of the 21st century.

President Obama, for all of his flaws, has consistently been a supporter of alternative energy. He has pushed for significant commercial and residential tax credits and has made use of government funds to make low-interest loans and grants to producers and researchers of green technology and power generation. However, may of the tax credits and investment programs aimed at bolstering the infant green energy sector are set to expire at the end of 2012. It is increasingly unlikely that the programs will be renewed by a Republican controlled House of Representatives. The recent up-tick in more cheaply–and dangerously–extracted natural gas has also forced serious debate of the need for renewable and alternative energy sources onto the back burner. So, while little doubt exists as to Obama’s cozy relationship with Wall Street and the financial sector, he fearlessly remains at odds with many in his own party, as well as Republicans, who are loathed to support green technology under threats of reprisal from the immensely powerful oil and natural gas lobbies. Continue reading

Apr 04

German Dual-System Model Solution for U.S. Unemployment?

Currently Spain and Greece are suffering from a greater than 50% unemployment rate for youth ages 18-25, while Germany’s youth are unemployed at a tiny fraction of that rate, 7.8%. Germany employs a dual-system in which those with the grades and the desire to pursue formal higher education are able to do so, while those with lesser grades or a desire to enter the trades or seek specialized technical training are encouraged and subsidized to enroll in technical schools and apprenticeship programs.

Read a report on the program here.

The United States as well as the rest of the world is suffering from a massive shortage of skilled tradespeople. The United States should be building the groundwork for a system similar to that of Germany, and it should do so soon.