We need something to do. Something to build that the rest of the world might want. And my suggestion is we sell power.
My further suggestion is that the government pay for the manufacture of solar cells by corperations at the cheapest possible rate. In the meantime, round up all those people in prison for any crime that didn't actually hurt anybody (i.e. using drugs) and offer them a deal. They can get out of jail now, if they go work for a solar cell producer. There's your workforce..
My further suggestion is that the possibility of using conventional technology like turbines be considered for the generation of solar power, at least until solar panels mature somewhat more. It is certainly possible to use conventional optics to get water to boil - and I would hope we know enough to do it by now. ;-)
The advantages of these plants are obvious. They have no fuel cost. The US will finally have enough energy, and it will have it with NO thermal gain. It's beautiful - No CO2, no extra energy being released from a stored condition - we'll be in great shape. No more dependance on foreign oil, either, so no more need to go be a bully.. It'd certainly be cheaper than maintaining that damn army.
And, with that much power, defending our own borders gets a lot easier. Huge lasers could be easily built with large amounts of laser diodes and solid hunks of some very close to transparent mineral that supports high temps. (diamond might be the only way to go). They've got no offensive capability.. but no one in the world needs offence. We've done enough damage to each other already - destroyed enough lives, enough man hours, enough resources. We don't have the kind of margins to screw around in that we used to - there are a _unbeleivable_ number of humans on the globe.
All of this is achivable. Whatever happened to the spirit that sent a man to the moon? Did it die when McCarthy shredded the constitution and we realized our government was completely broken? HELL NO! C'mon, people in power, wake up! Let's get our collective butts in gear here.