Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Social Commentary

Great quote out of an editorial for the Washington post (posted but the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette [what?]):


"The worst kind of policy actually smothers price signals. Both President Bush and Congress are promising to rescue consumers from $3 gasoline - by investigating companies for alleged price gouging, by sending out $100 checks as though government were some kind of fairy godmother, or by suspending the tax on gasoline or shipments to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Encouraging consumers to believe that they will be protected from high gas prices only discourages them from adapting."

Could not have said that last sentence better if I tried. Here, I'll try:

"Consumers who are led to believe that they are protected from..." See, it's just going to end up the same. Plagiarist...

"Another kind of error is to underestimate the environmental dimension of the energy crisis. In a recent speech, Bush repeated that oil purchases fill the coffers of governments that threaten U.S. interests. If this were the only danger posed by oil, then drilling in friendlier territories might address it – and oil companies are doing that. But oil is also dangerous because of global warming."

Just keep in mind that the concept of tons of CO2 and other emissions affecting the planet is a fact and not just some liberal hooey.

"Bush’s idea of action is flawed. He touts government investments in alternative energies: electric cars, hydrogen cars, ethanol that’s made from waste products or grass. This approach assumes that government knows which technologies are worth backing... It neglects the fact that government research into alternative energy is engaged in an arms race with private research into oil extraction. The president’s budget proposes $150 million next year for ethanol research, but private investment in new technology for extracting hydrocarbons comes to about $18 billion annually. To boost less carbon-intensive fuels, Bush needs to focus less on how the government spends its small research budget and more on how companies spend their enormous ones."

Great point.... never thought about it like that at all.

"Nobody is going to advocate a carbon tax that would push fuel prices higher than they are already. But it would make sense to adopt a sliding-scale tax that would kick in when oil prices fell below a certain level."

Makes sense to me... so we're all dealing with $3 gas right now (I'm dealing with $3.69 because of my picky krautrocket... low-grade is around $3.45 though), what if we had a tax that kept gas at, say, $2.50 a gallon? This is, of course, assuming that the current prices are going to fall (they are going to, right?). Each area would have a different price level and once you drop below that level, the tax kicks in. We use the tax solely to upgrade our economy and infrastructure to accept new fuel types. Start getting tough on fuel efficiency standards in the automotive industry and set lofty goals with public transportation (biodiesel, hydrogen, E85, etc).

Blech... optimism :)

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