Sunday, August 07, 2005

A Few Good Things About the Energy Bill

One of VOR’s readers posed a challenge: try to find something good in the latest corrupt-multi-billion-dollar-industry-give-away, oh excuse me, I mean the Energy Bill, which recently passed in Congress. Of course, so much pork was thrown into the Bill that there are crumbs for just about everyone, and no doubt there are some programs that are not completely offensive which will now see a rise in their coffers. But given that I would much rather see direct taxes on the externalities associated with energy production and zero subsidies of any kind, even some minor assistance for renewable energy hidden among the billions for fossil fuels is nothing I can get excited about. In addition, as I already laid out in my earlier critique of hybrid cars, I think money spent on hybrid rebates is very inefficient. So although it’s been difficult to think of what good may come out of the Energy Bill, I have finally come up with a few things:

1. We now have more proof that so-called small government free-market “conservatives” are even more addicted to big-government market-distorting policies than the Democrats.

2. Five years from now when gasoline is just as expensive (or more so) people may finally realize that giving their tax dollars to U.S. oil and gas companies does nothing to lower the world price of oil.

3. People get to see that the GOP really and truly is in the pockets of big business (how else could you explain giving away billions to companies that are in the midst of making record profits?)

4. Environmentalists get another paper trail to hold politicians accountable come the next election.

5. People with Hummers and huge SUV’s have another thing to make them feel even more guilty since their compulsion for driving cars as big as tanks prevented the inclusion of any improvement in the mileage standards into the Bill.

Any thing I missed?

Side Note: CAFTA recently passed in Congress and most Democrats and leftist organizations who opposed it once again missed a major opportunity. Instead of supporting free trade and then advocating for an increase in the types of adjustment policies that are needed in this globalized age (see my earlier piece here) they aligned themselves with the Florida sugar producers (a telltale sign that they were on the wrong side of the issue) and used the same tired clichés to argue against freer trade. Now that CAFTA passed, the power of the sugar growers will likely diminish since they will face increased competition. And hopefully, this egregious state-subsidized industry that has destroyed much of the Florida Everglades and has been grossly exploiting workers for decades has seen its zenith and will begin to wither away.



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