Democrats & Liberals Archives

Dirty-Energy-Industry Welfare

American conservatives are up in arms against the Welfare State. They harangue us about wasting money on all the so-called “entitlements” like Medicare and Social Security. They insist that we need to ween Americans off these programs and get government off the backs of business, so we can enjoy unhindered the benefits of the so-called “free market.”

One example of the "free market" in all its glory is the operation of the oil industry. We are told that energy from oil is "cheap." This was never true. But now that we all see the results of BP's oil hemorrhage in the Gulf, and how it is destroying wildlife, the fishing industries and the living conditions of millions of Americans, we KNOW that oil costs a lot more than we pay for it on the "free market."

"Free market"? It's more like a Dirty-Energy Welfare State. Grist tells us of a new study by the International Energy Agency that has calculated the amount of world-wide welfare supplied to an industry that is destroying the Earth's climate:

File this one under "news that ought to be the top headline across the world but will likely be ignored."

An early draft of a comprehensive new study from the International Energy Agency reveals that total global subsidies to dirty fossil-fuel energy amount to $550 billion a year -- about 75 percent more than previously thought.

Aren't we the fools? We give subsidies to fossil-fuel companies so they may pollute our environment and produce CO2 and other dangerous emissions that will warm the Earth and bring about a climate-change cataclysm fairly soon.

We give them subsidies and refuse to help those who are trying to develop alternative energy sources!

Conservatives knock "American Welfare" and back "Dirty-Energy Industry Welfare." It would be more helpful to all of us if they did the opposite. As a start, let's remove the dirty-energy subsidies.

Posted by Paul Siegel at June 7, 2010 7:53 PM
Comments
Comment #301849

What’s the matter Paul, running out of things to talk about?

Posted by: Beretta9 at June 7, 2010 9:01 PM
Comment #301852

We should indeed remove such subsidies. But, Paul, why to do we have them and why will it be so hard to get rid of them? Because people like cheap energy. I know you would complain about how it “hurt the poor” if the price of gasoline went up to cover all the external costs.

So your post is for higher energy prices. I agree, but you have to pick up both ends of that stick.

Posted by: C&J at June 7, 2010 9:05 PM
Comment #301860

C&J,

I think the answer is over in Roy’s column. Energy prices dropped dramatically when Rockefeller bought out everybody and forced lower delivery contracts with the Railroads. So we had cheap energy. Why did that change, again?

Posted by: gergle at June 7, 2010 10:21 PM
Comment #301869

Talking about a free market in the terms Republicans do is like talking about the contributions of natural selection to a breeding pedigree. There’s a selective force at work here, and it’s narrower and more consciously focused than mere blind market forces.

Oil companies wield great economic and political power. Energy is a big concern, and in a fossil fuel economy, nobody wants to be one to start raising energy prices.

In my view, we must make a decision that we’re going to make concerted efforts to change our energy economy, and then carry out those efforts.

It would help, C&J, if rank and file Republicans demanded accountability from the energy companies, instead of joining organizations funded by them.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 7, 2010 11:02 PM
Comment #301874

Gergle

The problem IS cheap energy prices. In real dollars and especially in relation to what we earn and buy, energy is very cheap. You may recall when a cup of coffee cost a nickle and a gallon of gas cost a quarter. Today a gallon of gas costs around $2.60 and a cup of coffee can cost more.

If we are talking alternatives, we need fossil fuels to be more expensive.

Posted by: C&J at June 7, 2010 11:55 PM
Comment #301877


Paul, conservatives love to remind us how cheap fossil fuels are without mentioning the hidden cost to taxpayers. The Shaw of Iran cost US taxpayers a bundle.

The price of oil is less expensive than bottled water until you add in the cost of the Iraq War.

Nuclear energy has cost us a hell of a lot more that the price on our electric bill.

They also like the market as the king rather than a subject.

We need to tax the price at the pump and attack tax the profits as well. Do the same with the nuclear industry unless you want the most expensive energy.

It isn’t going to happen because it would take a strong leader to promote and sell it the the people.

Posted by: jlw at June 8, 2010 1:55 AM
Comment #301885

Not being a coffee drinker, I’m not sure, but in the 60’s I don’t remember a half latte/mocha with cinnamon being offered at coffee shops, but Ethyl and Regular were around and leaded.
I didn’t even know what cappucinno was.

Posted by: gergle at June 8, 2010 8:45 AM
Comment #301889

C&J-
I think that talking about expense maybe simply a way of avoiding the real topic.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 8, 2010 10:14 AM
Comment #301896

C&J are proponents of higher taxes (via oil co. subsidies we pay for) and not letting “the (sacred) market”” set the price?

Posted by: steve miller at June 8, 2010 1:55 PM
Comment #301903

Actually this should be an area where conservatives and liberals can agree to some degree.

I don’t buy all the global warming hype. Al Gore looks a bit like a man that has lost his bearings.

On the other hand, I have a son in the US Navy. Don’t really want another war in the middle east. It seems as smart as we all are we should be able to figure out another way to do this energy thing.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at June 8, 2010 5:17 PM
Comment #301910

I believe that we should eliminate all direct subsidies to energy production, period. In addition we should tax carbon to the extent that it covers the external costs we can figure. This will inevitably raise the price of energy, but it will also make alternatives more competitive with fossil fuel. Then I believe in letting people make the choices re which fuels or combinations are better.

This is the how government can be most useful. Set up conditions, w/o picking winners or losers.

Posted by: C&J at June 8, 2010 9:35 PM
Comment #301919

C&J,

While I agree a carbon tax should be implemented to encourage renewable energy projects and discourage price manipulation to undercut the threat to oil and coal based dominance, I’m not sure I agree the practical method is to arbitrarily raise energy costs based on a calculated theorectical cost in a fragile economy. Sounds more like some Commie plan Al Gore might come up with, to me.:)

I think picking winners and losers is exactly the point of a carbon tax, pretending it isn’t, is kind of silly. We would prefer to be the winners and make OPEC the loser.

Posted by: gergle at June 9, 2010 9:44 AM
Comment #301924


A carbon tax is the same as a subsidy for non carbon based energy.

As I see it, with wind and solar, the energy is free. Profit comes from infrastructure, conversion and delivery which would obviously be less expensive than oil, gas and coal infrastructure, ships, trains, pipelines, etc. Conversion and delivery should be less expensive as well, especially after we complete the electrical highway grid.

I am one who doesn’t see the necessity for 0 carbon emissions. I would recommend that we tax oil and non-home heating NG, and use our coal supply until we advance to the point where it is no longer needed. Increased taxes on oil profits will give the market the incentive it needs and taxing the product, gives consumers incentive to change.

Posted by: jlw at June 9, 2010 1:04 PM
Comment #301975

The Carly Fiorini conservatives who like phasing out social security are advocating a -100% rate of return for the amounts working people have so far paid in. Pure financial genius.

Posted by: Schwamp at June 10, 2010 9:33 AM
Comment #362604

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