Monday, June 01, 2009

How do we choose our laws.

The Texas State state house killed legislation that would allow individuals to get Solar Panel financing from local governments, and pay it back via their property taxes according to this blog post on the New York Times. The system that was proposed is similar to others in the country including California. One of the questions to ask is why?

My assumption was that it was mostly ideologically driven with arguments against government involvement in the markets. While that may be true, it's important to see if the opponents had supported other subsidies for other industries. But instead of looking at the specifics of the case, perhaps we need a different model for choosing our laws. One of my favorite is the "veil of ignorance in the original position" proposed by the Philosopher John Rawls. The premise is that we should choose our laws from a position of not knowing what our current or future state would be, that is our laws are chosen from under a veil of ignorance about our future position in society. Another way to think about it is, if you want a pie to be cut equitably, you make the person cutting the pie get the last piece.

So let's assume we don't have interests that we have today, and we don't know what interests we have. If we have the facts today that our environment is in jeopardy. What would we choose if we didn't have skin in the game. Would an oil company executive push for lobbying the same way if he didn't know he was going to be an oil executive. Would an political activist believe in taxation if he didn't know he might be an oil executive. Removing ourselves from our interests is tough to do, but it's the only way to escape the debate and get to understanding. From understanding we can start to craft reasonable alternatives.

So maybe the best alternative is not for governments to fund solar panels, but utilities. It reduces the need for new power plants (reducing capitals costs) and it allows for recurring revenue over a long term. If government fails, can business step in. Something to think about.


At 2:52 PM , Blogger Chris said...

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At 1:24 PM , Blogger Jar(egg)head said...

That was a lovely impromptu Dogberry performance.


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