We are, in fact, the wimps of the world. We are, in fact, so wimpy our politicians are afraid to even talk about how wimpy we are.
How so? France today generates nearly 80 percent of its electricity from nuclear power plants, and it has managed to deal with all the radioactive waste issues without any problems or panics. And us? We get about 20 percent and have not been able or willing to build one new nuclear plant since the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, even though that accident led to no deaths or injuries to plant workers or neighbors. We’re too afraid to store nuclear waste deep in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain — totally safe — at a time when French mayors clamor to have reactors in their towns to create jobs. In short, the French stayed the course on clean nuclear power, despite Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, and we ran for cover.
Later in the article he proposes the US implement a $1 per gallon Federal gasoline tax to pay down the national debt, and fund a national healthcare plan. That makes little sense to me.
Such a tax would raise $140 billion per year. If the United States were to choose to use that tactic to drive down demand for imported energy, then why not put 100% of the proceeds back into the energy infrastructure to build clean, homegrown, on-demand energy sources. Half of that sum, $70 billion could fund the construction of about 15 GWe of new nuclear capacity PER YEAR. At that rate of investment, within seven years we would double the amount of reliable, carbon-free energy we get from nuclear energy facilities while boosting our ailing manufacturing industry and putting hundreds of thousands of people to work.
Then we wouldn't be wimps anymore.
...and for the record, while we don't always agree on things, in my humble opinion Mr. Friedman's "The World is Flat" is one of the classics of our time.