Letters to the Editor

You have to plan for 'Sputnik'

My father, the late Dr. Charles Mottley, was assistant secretary of defense for research and development at the end of the Eisenhower administration, a formulator of the triad concept of defense for this country and, later in life, a consultant in policy planning to government, private industry and the nonprofit sector. In his estimation the best statement of policy for a government program in this country was articulated by John F. Kennedy in response to Russia's Sputnik satellite launch. He established an objective - America will be the No. 1 country in space; and a specific goal - place a man on the moon by the end of the decade (1969).

Dr. Mottley stated, "A policy designed to meet a goal is composed of three elements: (1) the objective, (2) strategies to resolve issues and (3) allocation of resources. For the policy to be successful there must be an agreement among all the vested parties of the goal and these three policy elements."

In the space program these agreements were obtained. In contrast, as can be seen in Obamacare, the goal and three elements of policy have not been agreed to by the vested parties. As all would agree, including the president, the policy has not been successful.

In his latest State of the Union address, President Obama articulated an objective of "winning the future." As an objective for policy planning, this phrase needs to be specific to given areas (not just rhetoric). In the energy area his goal in 2035 is to have nonfossil fuels based on renewable energy sources comprise 80 percent of the energy mix. This goal has not been agreed to by private industry energy planners because a policy based on renewables (solar and wind) that are intermittent and regional in availability cannot meet the electric demand and cost competitiveness of a highly electrified economy. An expanded nuclear program that provides electricity on a 24/7 basis has the potential for meeting this type of goal but has not been agreed to by all the vested parties.

Current energy planning voiced by the secretary of energy is calling for an artificial increase in the price of fossil fuels to make more expensive solar and wind resources cost competitive. This strategy is out of touch with the energy strategies that have made this country the dominant economy in the world - energy prices based on the costs of production and distribution, and in the long term neither artificially subsidized nor excessively taxed.

Let us not make energy policy in the Obama administration an area where "fools rush in." This country deserves better. Our 21st century "moment" needs the same response as the Sputnik moment of the last century - a well-thought-out policy agreed to by all the vested parties.

The writer lives in Myrtle Beach.