Professor Tony Seba of Stanford University is a great leader, visionary, speaker, and business expert. He often starts his talks with two successive public domain images to illustrate technological and business disruption. These are shown below.
One is a photograph of Fifth Avenue in New York City on Easter morning in 1900. The second is a photograph from almost the same place on Easter morning in 1913. Professor Seba’s point, and in part mine, is that in one, transportation by the relatively wealthy is dominated by horse-and-buggy. In the second, a mere 14 years later, it is dominated by the automobile.
My point and question relate to the complaint of some, who apparently ignore or disregard the tremendous subsidies provided to fossil fuels via tax incentives, direct subsidies, permissions to drill on public lands, and giving their distribution networks the power of eminent domain, that zero Carbon energy, principally wind and solar, are unfair competitors because they are being heavily subsidized by governments, local governments, state governments, and federal governments.
To that point and complaint, I refer to these pictures and note that the road in 1913 is paved, in contrast with the dirt road of 1900. My question is Who built and paid for the paved road?
The people who owned the cars were relatively wealthy, and were not in the majority. They did not pay for the paved roads out of their own pockets. The paved roads were key to the spread of the automobile, because the rough, bumpy roads literally shook early models apart. So, in order for automobiles to spread, something had to be done about roads, and that was expensive. Facts are, governments did something about it. In this case, it was New York City.
But note this was done in the same span of time that the automobile was adopted, obsolescing the horse-and-buggy, and changing forever the way that a City, like New York, would think about transport.
And, to my mind, there is no different between that and the subsidies given to wind, solar energy, and energy storage.