I have mixed feelings about this:
... SoftBank, the $70 billion Japanese technology investment company ... , is setting up a joint venture with Bloom [Energy, a Silicon Valley company,] to bring what it calls "energy servers" to Japan....Companies not using the national power grid? To some extent, I like the idea of decentralized power -- I think it's good when individuals buy or lease equipment that allows them to generate solar or geothermal energy and bypass local utilities, or even sell power back to those utilities. If businesses can do the same thing with fuel cells, that's an interesting development.
The two companies said they would initially invest $10 million each in a joint venture that would sell Japanese corporations electricity generated by fuel cells, a substantially cleaner and more efficient source of energy than coal or other fossil fuels....
The venture's biggest selling point is that its fuel cells, placed within a corporation's own grounds, offer an alternative to using the national power grid....
But in this country I worry that decentralization of energy generation could eventually reinforce the notion that there's no need for society to ensure universal access to what we now consider life's basics: electricity, telephone service, clean water, police and fire protection, primary and secondary education.
Just a couple of days ago we had Aaron Osmond, a Utah state senator, arguing that compulsory education is bad for parents and children:
"Some parents act as if the responsibility to educate, and even care for their child, is primarily the responsibility of the public school system," Osmond wrote. "As a result, our teachers and schools have been forced to become surrogate parents, expected to do everything from behavioral counseling, to providing adequate nutrition, to teaching sex education, as well as ensuring full college and career readiness." ...We had Rick Santorum in 2011 denouncing the very existence of public schools ("'Just call them what they are,' Santorum said. 'Public schools? That's a nice way of putting it. These are government-run schools'"). We had Ron Paul getting applause at a tea party-sponsored presidential debate for suggesting that an uninsured young man in a coma should be allowed to die rather than given medical treatment. We have communities where firefighters let your home burn to the ground if you haven't paid the firefighting fee. And on and on.
"Let's let them choose it, let's not force them to do it," he said. "I think that's when you start seeing the shift."
We know that all the kewl young dudebros these days dig libertarianism. Is it the future? Will a coalition of libertarian hipsters and government-hating teabaggers usher in an era when dope is legal and NSA snooping is banned but education and clean drinking water are luxury goods? I may not live to see it, but I can imagine that as a possible future.