Immelt ist Verschimmelt

The General Electric CEO seems to think that the U.S. government should subsidize his company so that it can better conduct operations in India and China that will erode U.S. competitiveness and destroy U.S. jobs

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To borrow a Yiddish expression with roots in German, the CEO of General Electric is confused. Writing in the July 9 issue of the Financial Times, Jeffrey Immelt argues that the U.S. government should adopt “an industrial strategy built around helping companies to succeed with investment that will drive innovation and support high-technology manufacturing and exports.”  Immelt seems to have forgotten that the U.S. government has already adopted that strategy: the stimulus bill provides more than 10 billion dollars in funding and loan guarantees for smart grid and green technology (among other things), of which GE undoubtedly will be the Number One beneficiary.

Not bothering to acknowledge that, Immelt proceeds to argue that the U.S. government should also subsidize companies like GE not just to make U.S. workers more competitive globally but also to make its workers in China, India and UK (to name the countries he happens to name) more competitive. In other words, the U.S. government should pay General Electric to undermine the fundamental objective of the stimulus bill and other economic legislation, which is to improve U.S. competitiveness vis-a-vis other countries, not reduce it.

Either Immelt is verschimmelt or, even by the standards of corporate barons, he has a lot of chutzpah.

 

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This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

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