Saturday, May 03, 2008

Bad Policy is Good Politics

A gaffe is when you tell people what you really think:

As if we didn't already know the war in Iraq is about oil, John McCain tells us we won't ever need a war like this again if we lose our dependence on foreign oil. Of course, he's contradicting his numerous previous remarks that we are in Iraq to fight terrorists.

For a long time now, politicians have been promising energy independence. Back during the 2004 election, investigated the myths of energy independence. They asked Jerry Taylor, the Director of Natural Resource Studies at the Cato Institute about what's needed to achieve such independence:
Energy independence as a goal is meaningless because it is just not a reality at this point. The only way to start to achieve it would be to dramatically increase the cost of oil and significantly reduce Americans' consumption. This would require taxes beyond the imagination and no politician is going to propose this.
And so President Bush goes on championing the "ANWR Answer" (i.e. drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge). But (again quoting "according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy, in 2003 the US has about 31 billion barrels of proven reserves -- or 2.7 percent of the world's oil supply. If we relied on domestic reserves, we'd have enough oil to last 4.5 years at the current rate of consumption, assuming no more is found. Furthermore, this total includes sections of the Gulf of Mexico currently off limits for drilling."

Furthermore, reducing dependence is not as simple as increasing domestic supply. asked Carolyn Fischer, a fellow with the independent environmental group Resources for the Future about oil and the global market:
On both sides, this debate is a red herring because it's framing the debate around the concept that we just need enough oil to cover our own consumption. We are in a global market and if there is a shock to prices anywhere in the world, gas prices would still skyrocket here at home -- even if we were not importing any energy.
And so now, here we are in another election year with two of our presidential hopefuls demonstrating how little they understand about good energy policy. Hillary Clinton and John McCain are both proposing a gas tax holiday. This idea is ridiculous and counter to everything experts are saying. If we are going to use taxes to control our energy usage, then we need to raise taxes on what we want to discourage -- gasoline consumption -- and we want to lower taxes on the things we want to encourage -- renewable energy sources.

And let's not forget some of the other side-affects of eliminating the gas tax. We eliminate the tax which increases demand which sends more hard-earned money to the Middle East, which is terrible for our national security. Don't forget that 15 of the 19 terrorists on 9/11 came from Saudi Arabia. Their terrorist training was paid for by oil money!

Luckily, there is one candidate who recognizes bad policy. From the Washington Post, "in Indianapolis, Barack Obama portrayed Clinton's proposal for a gas-tax holiday this summer as an example of Washington at its worst, calling it the latest in a long line of 'phony ideas, calculated to win elections instead of actually solving problems.' "

I'm hopeful that the 2008 election will prove that good policy is good politics.

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