The "energy plan" announced by the Democrats offers one thing: a significant slowdown of our economy for at least twenty years. Those who run both legislative branches of the congress, and the energy plans of both of their leading candidates for president clothe themselves in the mantle of righteousness. That the Republicans are allowing this to happen, right before our eyes, tells us much about the sad state of American politics.
From their official website, here is the summary paragraph (including the bad grammar) of the Democrat plan to solve the energy crisis:
We will create a cleaner, greener and stronger America by reducing our dependence on foreign oil, eliminating billions in subsidies for oil and gas companies and use the savings to provide consumer relief and develop energy alternatives, and investing in energy independent technology.
This is also the Democrat solution. Get it? The Democrat plan is the Democrat solution. In logic this is called petitio principii or "begging the question."
Ask yourself: which of the five components of the "plan" should happen first? "Reducing our dependence on foreign oil" is listed first. But it cannot happen first. In order to keep the economy moving ahead, some type of energy must replace foreign oil-and this energy must be tangible, readily available, and close to the market price of the energy it is replacing.
This is a crucial point and very few people seem to understand it. We cannot solve the energy crisis by talking about the creation of, say, hydrogen fuel cells for cars. We must have a fully functioning economy in the intervening thirty or forty years that it will take to "develop energy alternatives" like hydrogen fuel cells. In other words, the pressing question is not "What energy alternative will we be using in forty years?" The real question is: What energy alternative will we be using tomorrow that will allow us the economic prosperity to create future alternative energies much further down the road? Presently, over eighty-five per cent of our energy comes from "fossil fuels." We use more than twenty million barrels of oil every day in this country. For the economy to expand and give us time to create alternative forms of energy we will need more, not less, moderately priced fossil fuels in the intervening years. Nowhere in the Democrat plan is there a strategy to provide this energy. Make no mistake, we are entering an energy crisis. At five dollars a gallon a typical low-income family will spend nearly 20% of total income on gasoline each year. At ten dollars a gallon these people will not get to work -- especially in rural or suburban America where a car is an absolute must. Where will the desperately needed and moderately priced energy come from? Most of the currently developed oil fields are in the hands of dictators, like Hugo Chavez and the Saudi Royal Family or in the hands of socialist governments, like Norway, Mexico, and Russia. They can afford to keep production low and prices high. Indeed, given their controlled economies, it makes absolute economic sense for them to do so. It is our job (not Saudi Arabia's) to develop new natural gas and oil resources to help stem rising energy costs.
The Democrat plan also calls for "eliminating billions in subsidies for oil and gas companies." (I could not discover when and how the federal government has provided "billions in subsides for oil and gas companies." I assume that this really means raising taxes on oil and gas companies.) How is this strategy going to provide one gallon of fuel for Americans? It certainly has not worked in the past when price controls and higher taxes have always led to long lines at the gas pumps.
The Democrats are playing a very dangerous game.[i] If we do not have a viable, recession free, economy in the short and medium term, then we will not get to a "cleaner, greener and stronger America" in the long run. We will not be able to sustain short-term economic growth that leads to long-term technological development without moderately priced energies being available throughout the process.
Republicans, if they are truly interested in America's future, had better start to point out the obvious flaws in the Democrats' "plan." Time to start drilling.
Larrey Anderson is a philosopher and writer living in Idaho. He can be reached at ldandersonbooks.com [i] Recently passed legislation that tinkered with our strategic oil reserves is nothing but a shallow ploy to try and lower gasoline prices a bit by Election Day. (That is all that the recently passed legislation will do-if it even does that-it is clearly an incumbents' reelection bill.) The fact that Republican senators rolled over (after their legislation to explore and drill for more domestic natural gas and oil was easily killed), and unanimously (minus one) voted for the Democrat sponsored bill indicates tha
t elected Republicans are far more interested in staying in office than in solving the energy crisis.