LETTERS: Competition, not uniformity, key to progress

To the editor:

After reading Abdul Khan’s column "Republicans in bed with oil titans" (Friday, Opinion), I was confused by his assertion that "uniformity" is the key to solving the energy crisis. It would seem that, if anything, it was this same kind of monolithic approach throughout the energy industry that has been the cause of the world’s petroleum addiction in the first place.

Indeed, the very act of giving one resource priority over all others leads to the rise of cartels and monopolies seeking to control production and distribution. This was the central theme behind Frank Herbert’s famous Dune series and can be seen in numerous real-world examples as well.

For instance, Brazilian sugar cane is perfect for the manufacture of ethanol – which also happens to be much more efficient than the American corn variety – but would not be economically feasible for use in the states. Should they be banned from utilizing it until a more "uniform" solution can be found?

Moreover, wind power has proven to be incredibly efficient in certain areas of the country because of heavy crosswinds and wide-open spaces, but is not as feasible in others; does that make wind invalid too? I fail to see how letting one agency or corporation decide the best course of action for the entire country is preferable to multiple institutions working horizontally towards the same objective.

If history has taught us anything, it’s that too much power cannot be trusted in the hands of the few because it eliminates the threat of competition and invariably leads to corruption. Open markets, however, allow for a greater delineation of wealth because power is more evenly distributed among multiple participants engaged in voluntary exchanges.

Progress isn’t something that can be forced on society with ill-conceived, one-size-fits-all solutions, but instead must happen gradually through research, experimentation and, most importantly, competition.

Neil Penny

political science sophomore

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