What does i 60 minutes i have against public investment in clean energy

60 Minutes is a fantastic news programme, but its employees run the risk of being seen as biassed against government spending on renewable energy. In January, you may recall, they aired a segment that incorrectly stated the government’s loan programme for clean technology had failed. The well-documented success of many of these federal investments in companies that went on to achieve success and create good jobs, which helped immensely with America’s transition to a cleaner future, was completely overlooked in their story.

Even though Tesla was highlighted last night, no mention was made of the company’s receipt of a $465 million federal loan. It seems that 60 Minutes was not interested in exploring the possibility that government funding may have contributed to the current level of success enjoyed by this business. 60 Minutes’ Scott Pelly did, in fact, ask Tesla CEO Elon Musk about the government loans, but the question was cut from the airing and is now only available as a video clip buried in the online transcript. (In the video, Musk calls the government loan “very helpful” and claims it “accelerated our progress.”) You might be able to brush this off as a bad editing job if it weren’t for the biassed report on renewable energy from January. Nonetheless, a pattern is emerging.

Musk’s determination, bravery, and engineering prowess are the most crucial factors in Tesla’s success, so the story’s emphasis on him was appropriate. On the other hand, viewers learned that private investors stepped in during the company’s darkest hour in December 2008 and saved the day. However, they failed to learn of the massive government investment made around the same time, which enabled Tesla to retool and go on to receive rave reviews, record sales, and a bright future.

Whether or not the government should ever make investments like this is a topic of ideological debate. To a libertarian mind, this is something that should be left to the free market and the private sector. However, many people think the government should play a role in long-term infrastructure development if society as a whole stands to benefit and the private sector is unwilling to invest because the payoff is too far off. Early and persistent government action — when the private sector couldn’t do it on its own — led to enormous public benefits, from the railroad to the Internet. The company’s success has led to the construction of a massive, state-of-the-art battery factory in the Southwest, as well as the creation of new jobs and environmentally friendly vehicle options. Morgan Stanley believes it could be the “missing piece in the renewable energy puzzle.” I’d call that a service to society. Regardless of where you stand on this issue, 60 Minutes would be remiss not to mention the government’s role in the Tesla story after the skewed coverage of clean tech investment in the prior episode.

If you’re curious about how investors currently perceive Tesla (as a recipient of a government loan), Wall Street powerhouse Morgan Stanley is worth revisiting. Among US automakers, it was deemed “our top pick” in a recent report to investors for its potential to disrupt the auto and utility industries. It’s a good return for the American people.

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