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As Japan struggles to contain the damage to its nuclear-power plants, there’s much hand-wringing in the United States over what the government’s policy toward the domestic nuclear industry ought to be. President Obama supports government subsidies in order to replace carbon-emitting energy sources.

That policy was wrong before the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, and it’s wrong now.

Nuclear power in this country has long been a government affair. From the very start, the “private” industry had its accident liability capped through the Price-Anderson Act. The companies said that without help they wouldn’t make the investment. It was corporate-state all the way, part of the the Dwight Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace program that was intended to make the traumatized post-World War II world feel better about atomic energy. Given its history of government support, no free-market advocate should look at nuclear power with good feelings.

If the free market void of all subsidies and privileges won’t support nuclear power — and there is good reason to think it wouldn’t — then it should not exist. Period. End of story.

That of course goes for all forms of energy. More details here.

Sheldon Richman
Sheldon Richman

Sheldon Richman is the former editor of The Freeman and a contributor to The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. He is the author of Separating School and State: How to Liberate America's Families and thousands of articles.