Opinion: Technology transitions and competition make America great – Post Register

Through the American Jobs Plan, America will invest in future technologies to keep its global leadership uncontested. By embracing the changes to come, we will all see a brighter future. A vote for the American Jobs Plan is the best way for Idaho’s congressional delegation to ensure America stays great.

The United States is currently undergoing a major shift as new technologies change the power in our homes, the way we travel and how we connect to one another. Private enterprise is driving much of this transition. Zero-emission electricity generation — solar, wind and geothermal — as well as faster mobile phone connectivity through 5G, electric passenger vehicles and hydrogen long-haul freight trucks offer America the possibility of maintaining global predominance. We just have to choose to invest in these technologies.

These investments will invigorate communities in Minnidoka, Jerome, Twin Falls and Jefferson counties, which are well-positioned to win with the American Jobs Plan. Rural communities in other Mountain West states are already benefiting from the clean energy transition. Bridger, Broadview and Colstrip, rural towns in Montana, are experiencing the benefits of this energy transition today, with dozens of permanent on-site management and hundreds of construction jobs. Additionally, electricity produced in Montana is exported to places like Seattle, Salt Lake City and Sacramento, reducing the tax burden of local residents through revenues generated from these urban communities. With the American Jobs Plan, Idaho can play a part in a vibrant and prosperous America for years to come.

Idaho has vast potential to generate electricity from geothermal sources. The Raft River Geothermal Power Plant in Cassia County is the only geothermal electricity facility in the state, but Idaho’s potential to develop this industry is massive. As a carbon-free, renewable and clean firm power source, geothermal has benefits that span the alphabet that could include aquaculture farming in the Hagerman Valley, heat for processing pulp and paper in Lewiston, lithium brine extraction for use in lithium-ion battery manufacturing in Arco, expanded residential and commercial heating and cooling in Boise, vegetable processing and drying in American Falls, and zero-carbon electricity generation in Driggs and Stanley. With the American Jobs Plan and innovative technologies like geothermal, Idaho can become an energy leader and power hub while utilizing the skills, expertise and existing infrastructure of the agriculture and fossil fuel industries.

Let’s embrace this change and own it. As a leader of innovation and champion of the free market, America — and Idaho in particular — should embrace these breathtaking transitions. Just imagine if we refused to change and locked in on antiquated technology. Would we still use mules to cross the Rockies? Would you read this article by the light of a whale blubber lamp?

Lock-in has its benefits. It cuts costs, makes for safe investments and creates stable employment. However, lock-in also stagnates innovation, prevents competition, can cause prolonged damage if the technology is harmful and causes nations to stagnate. In many ways, lock-in is antithetical to a free market capitalist society. When it comes to fossil fuels and outdated infrastructure, it’s a surefire way to ensure America stumbles and is surpassed by China, as Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., warned last week.

Technology transitions and competition advance and improve America. It keeps America ahead of geopolitical rivals like China. China is quickly catching up to the United States in many technology areas, like 5G, artificial intelligence, energy and information technologies. Competition between the United States and China is about who will control global economic sectors and exert influence in the 21st century. It is a tug-of-war between countries with democratic, free market values and those with authoritarian values, which reject political plurality and basic freedoms, like speech, religion and assembly. Who do you want to win this fight?

As the United States innovates, we can trade and share our new improvements and ideas with friends of democracy and capitalism, like Taiwan, the European Union, Canada, South Korea, Chile, Japan and Australia. We can shore up new democracies like South Africa, India and Brazil and create a worldwide alliance of innovative, strong democracies.

New technologies can quickly evolve to generate time efficiencies, cost savings and improved quality of life. The era of fossil fuels ushered in technologies, like the internal combustion engine, aviation, coal mining and the interstate highway system. These technologies replaced masted sailing vessels, donkeys and steam engines. At the time, society was not happy with these changes. New innovations, like the internal combustion engine, were argued to be noxious, noisy, complicated and a dangerous alternative. Yet this technology won and fueled America’s economy to today. But now these mid-20th century technologies are aging and being surpassed by new 21st century innovations.

Consider the transition from land-based to mobile phone technology. Try to imagine being a security guard, a private practice attorney, a long-haul trucker or a consumer products manufacturing executive in the 1990s with no ability to watch Tampa Bay beat Kansas City on ESPN+, to invest in GameStop through the Robinhood app or text with friends about 4×4 and hunting routes using the latest version of the GAIA GPS app. This was a massive change that made all of our lives better. We can do it again. We could do this again through the American Jobs Plan.

Technology transitions are not new to society. Competition among technologies is not new to society. Technology transitions and competition make and keep America great. Sen. Crapo, Sen. Risch and Rep. Simpson, let’s not rest on our laurels. The superpower marathon doesn’t rest. Vote yes for the American Jobs Plan.

Bryant Jones is a Ph.D. candidate at Boise State University researching clean energy technologies and a security fellow with the Truman National Security Project. Daniel Green is a partner with Truman National Security Project and holds a Master of Arts from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies. Views expressed are their own.