Obama and High Gas Prices

I have to give Obama credit. I have long advocated higher gas prices as the only effective way to lessen dependence on oil and reduce green house gas emissions Obama seems to be with me on higher gas prices. Let’s see how he holds up in the real world. I bet he changes his tune.

I prefer to get to higher gas prices through a carbon tax. I think that WILL come, but it will be hard going. It took the Congress only three hours to get rid of calls for higher prices in the recent energy bill. Democrats blame Republicans, but most politicians were happy with the result.

You may recall that the Senate, including all the Democrats, voted 97-0 to reject the Kyoto protocols … before they were even submitted. Political will to raise gas prices is hard to find. That is why, again, I give kudos to Obama for standing firm in favor of higher prices.

Higher prices are already doing the good work. Click on this link for some of the data.

For the first time in a growing economy, in 2006, CO2 emissions went DOWN in the U.S. Gas consumption is dropping. People are buying smaller cars, moving closer to where they work, taking mass transit when possible, car pooling, driving less etc. This is exactly what any good environmentalist wants. It is exactly what people CLAIM they want to do to protect the environment. This is great.

If you ARE concerned with a cleaner environment and you ARE taking those logical steps that environmentalists are logically asking all people to take, then you are not much affected by the rising prices. If you say you are an environmentalist and you are still being really hard hit by gas prices, perhaps you should look up the term hypocrite in the dictionary and stop calling yourself an environmentalist.

Some people are advocating walking more and riding bikes to work. Great! Maybe we will have more attractive (i.e. fewer fat) people as an additional benefit of high fuel prices.

I don’t credit Obama with all the right motives. He wants to bash oil companies, for example, and tax them higher. I don’t think he is doing this in order to raise the prices of gasoline, but his actions certainly will have that result.

So I am a bit conflicted here. I have been for high gas prices. Obama is advocating polices that will keep prices high. I would like to shaft him for it, but I feel bad doing it because he is doing what I like. If John McCain wins gas prices will drop because there will be more energy exploration in the U.S. and more stablitiy in the Middle East. This is a good thing IF we take that opportunity of dropping prices to compensate with a carbon tax. That would be perfect. I think McCain may resist raising taxes. I am almost 100% sure Democrats will raise taxes and Obama will certainly keep the price of gas high, whether intentionally or not. What to do?

I favor higher taxes on gas. Dems will raise taxes on most things, probably including gas. Should I be nicer to Obama and the Dems? … Nahhh. Too much downside risk.

McCain is more likely to be able to push hard carbon legislation. It is sort of a Nixon goes to China situation. Beyond that, I am reasonably certain that Democrats will lard any energy bill with so many special exceptions that it will be destructive and unworkable. We got a taste of that from the Barbara Boxer tax grab proposal connected with the last energy bill.

I like the higher gas prices, but not all taxes are such a good thing.

Posted by Jack at June 17, 2008 3:41 PM
Comments
Comment #255829

Obama, who even a few weeks ago was promoting our “need” for higher gas has recently been railing AGAINST high gas prices. Of course, he does a bit of a “twist’ to be able to say that.

What does he who preaches we need higher gas prices now say? “Too far too fast”. LAUGH. That allows him to essentially flip flop on the issue and rail against the very high gas prices he helped to bring about by voting against any drilling in the US.

It’s time America drilled for it’s own oil. It’s time a BRAVE politician got up and said “we MUST have carbon free nuclear power for the good of our security and the good of the planet”. But Obama opposes massively the only real answer out there, Nuclear power. And he voted for that death ethanol bill and why isn’t he demanding we roll it back? People are dying and forests are being chopped down all so we can burn corn and sugar. And it’s makes more pollution, the corn fuel, that it reduces.

Obama is a failure one energy because he only believes in the radical left wings anti energy policies. And this is one reason the hard left loves him and his “change”. Of course, Obama is now in denial about what change he actually plans to give us. Much much higher energy prices and a far worse economy as a result.

Make no mistake about it, plentiful cheap energy means a good economy and expensive energy is recession and depression. Where will Obama and the progressives who now control the democratic party take us? Not to a good place I’m afraid, unless he rolls over on the left after he gets in.

Posted by: StephenL at June 17, 2008 3:59 PM
Comment #255838

No one will be able to “change” faster than McCain. He changes his positions so often, it’s really hard to tell what he’s thinking. He’s announcing that he is now in favor of coastal drilling. This means the federal legislation McCain favored and voted for in the Senate, he now opposes. Go figure.

If it were just a matter of letting states make their own decisions on whether or not to allow drilling based upon arcane and obscure arguments about the roles of states v the federal government, I might agree.

But that’s not what McCain’s doing. He’s just grandstanding again, saying whatever he thinks people want to hear. It’s just awful.

What a terrible candidate. Someone speculated that McCain may simply be playing an old style of politics. Before Youtube and the ubiquitous presence of personal cameras recording everything, politicians could say one thing in one place, and the opposite somewhere else, and plausibly deny the contradiction. No one could prove otherwise. But with everything on film, McCain pulls that old-timey trick, and he looks like the worst flip-flopper in the history of American politics. Maybe he thinks no one will notice. He really doesn’t get it.

CA has already said ‘no thank you’ to offshore drilling. They remember the disaster of the oil spill off Santa Barbara. Gov Crist of FL says he might be willing to consider it.

Of course, the idea that the US will drill its way out of the current situation is utterly ludicrous. I cannot begin to overstate the foolishness of that approach. The US already has done more oil drilling within the country than the rest of the entire world combined.

It’s a desperate wish to avoid change. Everyone knows we need to develop an alternative energy policy and alternative energies RIGHT NOW. No more wishful thinking. It’s time.

Posted by: phx8 at June 17, 2008 4:36 PM
Comment #255843

Jack, while I am usually in agreement with you we part company on this issue. What the cap and trade legislation boils down to essentially is; Government creates a scarcity and then uses the created scarcity to enrich government, and those favored by government, by selling permits.

Government, with its perceived monopoly of wisdom, will decide the winners and losers in new energy technology and development. Hardly a prescription for confidence.

Only if one believes the man-made global warming nonsense, created by the use of selected data fed into computers to get the answer desired, could one begin to justify the severe worldwide financial consequences, global starvation, social unrest and worse that may result.

Governments purposely creating shortages of our most basic need, energy; is obscene, unjust, outrageous and hardly the kind of “change” most folks think of when listening to Obama and the liberal democrats and republicans who promote these dastardly schemes.

Do you not feel the pain already being experienced by people around the world? Do you not understand that these feel good policies have already caused needless suffering? Obama and his elitist followers who promote this sham will be held accountable.

Posted by: Jim M at June 17, 2008 5:00 PM
Comment #255844
If it were just a matter of letting states make their own decisions on whether or not to allow drilling based upon arcane and obscure arguments about the roles of states v the federal government, I might agree.

Might you, phx8? Because, Alaska has been begging to allow drilling in their own state for decades and stopped by the federal government consistently.

the idea that the US will drill its way out of the current situation is utterly ludicrous.

No one is saying we shouldn’t be developing new energy sources, in fact we have been. Companies like Konarka are a perfect example. But in order to develop those new sources of energy we need … well, energy. And trying to do so while relying on the rest of the world to supply it is ludicrious. And artificially upping the cost of energy, as some would recommend, is even more dangerous and will just increase the prices of everything for no gain.

It’s a desperate attempt to appear to be for change, when it reality it just leaves us right were we already are.

Posted by: Rhinehold at June 17, 2008 5:02 PM
Comment #255845

I think it is reasonable to ask oil companys, who are currently marketing themselves as “energy” companys, what they are doing with revenues: how much is going toward R&D, exploration versus stock buybacks, dividend increases and huge pay packets for their top employees. (Didn’t the top exec at ExxonMobil leave the company a couple a years ago with a going away present north of $400,000,000?) There are certain facets of life in this country that demand attention and regulation from government. Energy is one of them.

Posted by: charles ross at June 17, 2008 5:07 PM
Comment #255846
I think it is reasonable to ask oil companys, who are currently marketing themselves as “energy” companys, what they are doing with revenues

And they are. In fact, every time the price of gasoline rises, usually during summer, we have new rounds of investigations from our ‘esteemeed’ congressmen and women vowing to look into it. And every year they find that there is no ‘fleecing’ going on, no collusion and the profit margins on those record profits are usually around 9%. Go ask Apple what their profit margins are…

I most certainly do not believe we should be propping up oil companies, but we should not be looking to them as the enemy either.

Posted by: Rhinehold at June 17, 2008 5:14 PM
Comment #255847

Rhinehold,
I am probably more open to drilling ANWAR than most people who consider themselves environmentalists. But all in all, I think it’s a bad idea. If it is valuable today, how much more valuable will it be in ten years? Twenty?

We’re already relying upon the rest of the world for our supply of oil. No amount of drilling within the country will change that. There is only one way out of this one, and that is to make fundamental changes. We have to change the paradigm.

This is not the kind of ‘change’ anyone likes. We ‘stayed the course’ with energy policy and now the consequences are becoming highly unpleasant. We’ll need to move faster than we wanted to move. Haste makes the odds of making very big mistakes increases.

I’ve never favored cap and trade agreements, or carbon taxes. I have a basic understanding of supply and demand. It just doesn’t strike me as a direct way to address the problem. I’m not saying I have a better answer. But I’m not convinced those ways are the best we can do.

It’s a bad situation, Rhinehold. I think everyone understands it is a bad situation, and I think everyone understands we waited too long to develop alternative energies. The bill is coming due.

Posted by: phx8 at June 17, 2008 5:21 PM
Comment #255850
I think everyone understands we waited too long to develop alternative energies.

This makes no sense to me. People have been working toward alternatives for decades. It takes time and technological advances we haven’t made yet. We did develop nuclear, but that isn’t an option for many people. Wind is not enough, solar is not cost effective yet. It isn’t that we didn’t start soon enough or that we haven’t put enough money into it or that we aren’t hurting enough. It is simply that we don’t have the technology ready yet.

Konarka, and others, have been and will succeed at this. We can’t rush it because no amount of rushing is going to speed it up. Where is the battery technology we need? How are we going to achieve it? It will take time and inserting politics into it will just make sure we make another ethonol mistake.

As for ANWAR, had we drilled there twenty years ago like was tried, we could be completely free of mid-east ties right now. It is estimated that we could get what we get from Saudia Arabia for 75 years out of that area. By then, I am sure we will have developed sound technologies out of solar and other sources that will easily replace it. But too many want to inject politics and religion into it.

Posted by: Rhinehold at June 17, 2008 5:44 PM
Comment #255853

Rhinehold,
Your numbers on ANWAR are off the mark. Do a little checking around, wikipedia, or another source if you prefer. ANWAR would produce about 5% of total US oil consumption for a dozen years, and that is based upon the most optimistic assumption.

Do you think the federal government can increase innovation and speed up the development of new technologies by directing funds and grants towards education, and research and development?
Of course, you know that is true. Most major technological developments occur that way. Unfortunately, the vast majority of developments are originally driven by military needs- communications, flight, computers, and so on.

Posted by: phx8 at June 17, 2008 6:42 PM
Comment #255854
Paul All Democrats liked McCain when he was criticizing Bush and other Republicans. You don’t like him now because he is the oppostion candidate. If he had lost the nomination, you would all be saying that a brave, independent guy like that could never get the nomination and that you “woulda” supported him. It might be at least a show of consistency to hold some of the attacks until farther along in the election cycle.

Posted by: Jack at May 21, 2008 10:54 PM

Two articles in a row attacking Barack, can we start attacking McCain? Or are you the only one that can decide whom and when opposition articles can be written?

Posted by: Cube at June 17, 2008 6:45 PM
Comment #255856

Ok, that’s what I get for being lazy. Here is a link to the Wikipedia ANWR article on drilling:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arctic_Refuge_drilling_controversy

“The U.S. consumes about 20 million barrels… daily. If the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge oil reserves were used to supply 5% of the U.S. daily consumption the reserves, using the low figure of 4.3 billion barrels… would last approximately 4300 days, or almost 12 years. Using the high estimate, the reserves would last approximately 11800 days, or 32 years.”

So that provides a little perspective on ANWR.

Posted by: phx8 at June 17, 2008 7:01 PM
Comment #255857
Do you think the federal government can increase innovation and speed up the development of new technologies by directing funds and grants towards education, and research and development?

No. Because it is already doing so. Do you think money itself is what it takes to develop a technology? Why don’t we just all invest in the flying car?

Unfortunately, the vast majority of developments are originally driven by military needs- communications, flight, computers, and so on

I’m sorry, I do not agree with this statement at all. I think we could look at the internet as a prime example…

But, you say, the government invented the internet? No. It laid down some of the infrastructure. But it wasn’t until non-governmental people, free-market thinkers and capitalists looking for a venue to make money, long after government funding trickled to nothing, did the internet become what it is today. Mainly a small company named Cisco, inventing technology for financial gain, are the reason we are talking together now, not the government or tax spending.

Posted by: Rhinehold at June 17, 2008 7:03 PM
Comment #255858

phx8,

My numbers were based on what we get from Saudia Arabia. We have other sources so my initial statement of eliminating all middle-east ties is off, though most people agree that SA is the worst of the worst.

BUT, what would happen, if we started drilling in ANWAR and the coasts, is that OPEC and other sources of oil would start increasing production to make it less cost effective and drive down prices. Which in the end is what we are after now, while we develop new technologies, right?

Posted by: Rhinehold at June 17, 2008 7:10 PM
Comment #255865
But, you say, the government invented the internet?
Didn’t Al Gore invent that? Posted by: d.a.n at June 17, 2008 7:51 PM
Comment #255866

Rhinehold,
Drilling the coastlines and ANWR is a medium-term solution. In the short term, the way to have the fastest, most immediate impact is through conservation.

After instituting policies which concentrate on conservation, medium term solutions would be worth considering. One choice is to drill for more oil. It would alleviate the problem in the medium term as a temporary fix. The problem with pursuing this solution, and the reason I think it is foolish, is that it perpetuates the current situation.

We went through this process in the 1970’s. We knew dependence on foreign oil was a terrible idea, but… Here we are today. It’s so dumb.

If we start drilling ANWR, which is a refuge for wildlife, and if we start drilling coastlines, where will we stop?

The more obvious solution is to get inefficient vehicles off the road as soon as possible and replace them with fuel-efficient ones. Another obvious solution is to direct investments towards fuel-efficient means of mass transit. Another would be to direct city planning towards developing centralized cores, rather than sprawls.

There’s a lot we can do. I see no reason to proceed down the same road we’ve been on anymore than absolutely necessary.

Posted by: phx8 at June 17, 2008 8:02 PM
Comment #255867
Drilling the coastlines and ANWR is a medium-term solution. In the short term, the way to have the fastest, most immediate impact is through conservation.

YES, it is a medium term solution, and had we taken it 10 years ago, when we very well could have, it would be today’s bridge to tomorrow. However, we should not be as cocky now as we were then that we will have a solution in 7 to 10 years and accept that we need a medium term solution as well as a short term one.

As for the short term solution being ‘conservation’, that’s not a solution. That’s a reaction.

There are a bunch of other real solutions, one of them you are going to see soon when the Saudis and Kuwait realize that we are going to press forward with alternatives or buy from other sources and start increasing production. By the end of summer the price will be back down below $3. They have been trying to find where the ‘sweet spot’ is, and I think they realize that 4/per is too high. We will continue to increase our use because without doing so we will not be able to attain the long term solution that we will most definately need.

Posted by: Rhinehold at June 17, 2008 8:13 PM
Comment #255868

BTW, all of the solutions you presented are medium term solutions as well, phx8. And they require… ENERGY in order to do them. How do we increase our energy use in developing them and conserve our energy use? And how does using less gas lower prices again? Do we have super-efficient trucks? It is the trucking industry that needs that gas to get the goods (foods, etc) to us and are driving up all of the prices to do so.

Posted by: Rhinehold at June 17, 2008 8:21 PM
Comment #255870

Rhinehold, for once I agree with you. Hallelujah!

Posted by: googlumpus at June 17, 2008 8:47 PM
Comment #255877

phx8

It’s a desperate wish to avoid change. Everyone knows we need to develop an alternative energy policy and alternative energies RIGHT NOW. No more wishful thinking. It’s time.

I could not agree more. This is not a time for procrastination. Viable technology is out there. Now is the time to push alternatives in a big way. Weaning ourselves and the rest of the world off fossil fuel dependence asap would be the best thing that could happen, period. We need a bold and innovative energy bill that dictates that we as a nation will take the initiative in actively pursuing non fossil based energy sources. It is time to remove the power players and their influence from the equation. They need to be told that they can participate via investment if they wish, but their influence will no longer be allowed to obstruct progress.

More drilling is not an answer or a fix. It represents just another republican band aid in a long line of temporary short term fixes. Their philosophy for years has been to not worry about tomorrow until tomorrow gets here. Well that attitude has now caught up to us and we are paying the price in exponentially rising energy costs across the spectrum.

Posted by: RickIL at June 17, 2008 10:14 PM
Comment #255881

The U.S. consumes about 20 million barrels (3,200,000 m³) daily. If the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge oil reserves were used to supply 5% of the U.S. daily consumption the reserves, using the low figure of 4.3 billion barrels (680,000,000 m³), would last approximately 4300 days, or almost 12 years”. “Using the high estimate, the reserves would last approximately 11800 days, or 32 years.”” Using the increasing price of oil this supply (with 10.5 billion barrel mean and crude oil at over $120 a barrel) would be worth $1.26 trillion.

” the deposits in ANWR contain enough oil to solely support U.S. consumption for 7 months (4.3B estimate) to 19 months (12B estimate), presuming U.S. could shut off all imports and other domestic suppliers for that period, and presuming oil could be transported from ANWR to market at the rate of 20 million barrels (3,200,000 m³) per day.” ” If used to completely replace oil imported from the Persian Gulf (775M barrels in 2007[12]), oil from ANWR would last from approximately 5.5 years (4.3B estimate) to 15 years (12B estimate” ” RINEHOLD SAID”Do we have super-efficient trucks? It is the trucking industry that needs that gas to get the goods (foods, etc) to us and are driving up all of the prices to do so.
No. The trucking industry was built on and around cheap Diesel fuel Prices. IE 60 ft trailers and 2 m.p.g. city to 5 M.P.G. highway, using mega sized 10 - 15 litre motors. can they conserve? hell yes ! how ? And in the short term? HELL YES !use the new GM duramax deisel 6.6 litre motor. “And for about $150 I have made my 2006 chevy truck with the duramax 6.6 diesel go from 17 m.p.g. to 24 m.p.g”. Brake Horsepower went from 360 to 495. Torque went from 650 ft lbs to 900 ft lbs. I have pulled a three axle trailer with a combined weight truck and trailer of 38,000 lbs ” please don’t try this folks ” and got 15.5 m.p.g. for the medium term ” And on the way ” diesel parallel electric motors.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at June 18, 2008 12:20 AM
Comment #255882
Mainly a small company named Cisco, inventing technology for financial gain, are the reason we are talking together now, not the government or tax spending.”


I would think one off topic should be enough, but I had to respond to the above comment. You should look into Darpa, William Yeager, TCP/IP, BSD Unix and the list goes on. Cisco rode the wave to riches, but the wave was created by government financing.

Posted by: Cube at June 18, 2008 12:23 AM
Comment #255883

Perhaps we should tax spoons and food too, since they make people fat?
And perhaps we should tax penz and pencilz for mispellin’ wordz?
That is, there ain’t any problem that can be solved with another tax, eh?
And of course, all of those new tax revenues will be used responsibly to invent energy alternatives and reduce the $9.4 Trillion National Debt (given enough time, such as a few centuries).

Carbon Tax disadvantages:

  • (01) It is yet another regressive tax. It also punishes certain industries and professions more than others.

  • (02) It is price-based tax. While increased price may lower demand and emissions, no definite limits on emissions can be guaranteed. If demand is strong enough, emissions will still rise despite the tax.

  • (03) In order to achieve significant carbon emission reductions to put a dent in climate change, carbon taxes would have to be extremely high, and voters ain’t likely to stand for it. Especially the middle class that is already being hammered from every angle. Especially if progress toward alternative solutions is non-existent; a high likelihood based on do-nothing Congress’ track-record.

  • (04) Carbon taxes are bad for the economy. A carbon tax that may be effective in a boom economy would be grossly excessive in a recession.

  • (05) It is pointless if there are no suitable alternatives on the horizon.

  • (06) Carbon taxes will increase economic disadvantages for the middle-income and lower-income groups that are already being hammered by these 10+ abuses.

  • (07) It would be difficult to tell what effect the tax is was having on emissions.

  • (08) A quantity (versus price based) system will difficult to measure, and ripe for abuse.

  • (09) As tax-happy as most politicians are, they are not likely to commit career suicide by implementing carbon taxes large enough to put a dent in the current emission levels. We need altnernatives, and action to move toward those alternatives.

Posted by: d.a.n at June 18, 2008 12:44 AM
Comment #255884

Cube,

You missed the point. What the government created was an extention to an idea that had existed long before them, so no creativity (Government is really bad for that). They interconnected some military operations and eventually allowed some universities, at a very low level of connectivity, basically building an infrastructure. That was about the extent of what the government did. Left to the government running of the arpanet, it would be a way for large machines to pass data back and forth.

Interconnecting individuals into the system was not the work of the government. That took the prospect of making a living by individuals. Sorry Cube, but as much as the internet is touted as a success of the government, it just isn’t the case. Had viable routing technology not been invented, along with the idea of using a browser to view markedup pages, along with the ability to get individuals involved, all done for financial gain, we might still be using the old RIME network to have this conversation, waiting days to comment instead of minutes or even seconds…

Posted by: Rhinehold at June 18, 2008 12:59 AM
Comment #255885

Rodney,

So, they should spend more money to upgrade their fleets, increasing the price of doing business, increasing therefore the cost of the goods to us…

How does this solve the problem really?

And, how much oil/energy is going to be used to create those new systems? Are they made with any kind of plastics (petrol) and computer systems (petrol), etc?

Many truck drivers are just pulling their trucks over and doing something else besides deliver. Rising the cost of transportation even more and increasing the unemployment ranks…

What a spectacular idea.

Posted by: Rhinehold at June 18, 2008 1:03 AM
Comment #255887

Many are pulling over and parking there rigs I know that. one man in upstate ny i know delivers butter and milk from over 300 farms with 60 ft trailers and 12 litre motors at 4 m.pg. at $5.25 a gallon he loses money at $3.00 a gallon he makes money so i present my case could you make money at $1.75 a gallon ..

Posted by: Rodney Brown at June 18, 2008 1:28 AM
Comment #255890

Jim M

I don’t really like the cap & trade for some of the reasons you mention. I would go with a direct carbon tax.

Charles Ross

Actually, you have no particular right to ask the energy companies anything unless you are a shareholder or they are breaking some law. It is none of your business. Let me correct myself a little, you have the right to speak about what you think in right, but they don’t have to listen.

Cube

Everybody has been attacking McCain. No matter what I write, somebody will write back attacking McCain. I did not attack Obama on this one.

Obama and I agree that gas prices should be higher. We just arrive at the end in a different way.

Posted by: Jack at June 18, 2008 2:09 AM
Comment #255903

Raising taxes and prices on fuel doesn’t make much sense when there are no good alternatives available yet.
There are other common-sense things that could also be done, such as:

  • (1) 4 day work week.

  • (2) employers could stagger work-day start-times (e.g. starting at 6AM, 7AM, 8AM, 9AM, and 10 AM to reduce traffic congestion).

  • (3) reduce speed limits 5 to 10 miles-per-hour.

  • (4) mandate higher miles-per-gallon standards for new automobiles.

  • (5) mandate higher energy efficient building standards

  • (6) more wind power.

  • (7) more solar power and research.

  • (8) more E85/15 pumps and flex-fuel vehicles (existing vehichles can be converted with a kit for only a few hundred dollars). E85/15 fuel pumps are almost non-existent in Dalls, Texas.

  • (9) more crops that produce 7+ times more ethanol than corn.

  • (10) more mass transit.

  • (11) more research.

Is there really a need to raise fuel prices?
Fuel prices are already rising plenty all by itself (without more taxes).
The price of oil has doubled in a year.
If government wants to make fuel consumption more painful, shouldn’t there be some alternatives?
You’d think the Dept. Of Energy’s $28 Billion annual budget could have been doing something about this a long, long time ago?
You’d think the federal government’s $2.6 Trillion of annual tax revenues could have been doing something about this issue a long, long time ago?
Instead, the government’s solution (as usual) is to tax it.
What ever ails us, just tax it some more.

The government and doesn’t need more money and the voters don’t need more taxes.

A long, long time ago, there was a government that imposed taxes to raise necessary revenues for national defense, law enforcement, and the basic necessities for a functional government.

What the hell happened?
When did it become the duty of government to impose taxes to control behavior?

Some say we should raise taxes on fuel?
Look at taxes on cigarettes.
Look at the myriad of taxes on almost everything?
And when do-nothing government can find something else to tax, simply raise the taxes on the existing taxes!

What’s next?
Perhaps we need more taxes on McDonald’s Big Macs and french fries because they make us fat?
Or perhaps we should tax McDonald’s more for being so irresponsible to sell unhealthy Big Macs and french fries?
Or perhaps we should tax all foods more?
Or perhaps we should only tax people more that are over-weight?
Why not, if the goal is to tax people to control their behavior?
There are all sorts of taxes we are missing out on if that is the goal, eh?

How is this use of taxation to modify behavior consistent with “less government” and “using government and taxation sparingly”?
How is this use of taxation to modify behavior consistent with “free market”, “free choice”, and basic “freedom” philosophies?

We’ve slipped a long, long way, evidence by the wide-spread belief that government should use taxes for behavior control.
What’s next?
A stupidity tax?
Perhaps that is one tax that might make some sense?

Posted by: d.a.n at June 18, 2008 10:54 AM
Comment #255904

Jack

Obama and I agree that gas prices should be higher. We just arrive at the end in a different way.

Reading your thoughts on this matter over the last year or so has served to convince me that higher fuel prices are a necessity in the acceleration of the implementation of alternatives. Being retired and having no real need to commute somewhere on an everyday basis makes that attitude easier for me than most working people. The result is that I feel a bit of guilt in that I am willing to let others suffer at the pumps while I do not have to.

I know some poor people who are really suffering. Previous to current levels of energy costs they were just getting by. They are a husband and wife with two small children working near minimum wage jobs with no practical hope of moving beyond that level anytime soon. They live in a small town and must commute about 20 miles everyday to work. They can not afford to move nor is there any mass transit available to them. They have few conveniences, no cable, no medical insurance and very meager furnishings. These are good people who simply made poor decisions at an early age and are finding it very difficult if not impossible to escape their dilemma. It is difficult to watch them try and stay afloat amid an ever increasing cost of living while their wages do not keep up. I do not know what will happen to them if the markets continue in this inflationary fashion. I suspect they will join the ranks of the homeless at some point.

This is a trickle up problem caused by inflated energy costs which is causing serious problems for the poor even before possibly adding another tax to the burden of energy costs. I do not believe a carbon tax is the answer to our problems. It would serve to add more weight to an already too heavy burden for some. Is it really necessary that we must destroy the meager lives of a portion of our population in order to effect responsible change in the way we approach energy policy in this country?

Posted by: RickIL at June 18, 2008 10:57 AM
Comment #255907

RickIl

Carbon doesn’t recongize income levels. If a poor couple is emitting CO2 they should do less of it. We should give no breaks to anybody on the carbon.

I think it might be a good idea to make this tax revenue neutral, however. We coudl use the proceeds to increase earned income tax credits or reduce payroll taxes. These measures do more to help the working poor than anything else we have ever tried.

Politicians dislike these kinds of automatic solutions because it limits the pork they can hand out or the credit they can claim for “helping” the folks.

Posted by: Jack at June 18, 2008 11:05 AM
Comment #255912
Jack wrote: Carbon doesn’t recongize income levels.
Not true.

A carbon tax is yet another regressive sales tax, and all sales taxes are regressive (i.e. as income decreases, taxes as a percentage of income increases).
The current federal tax system is already regressive and unfair.

Obviously, fuel costs as a percentage of income is a major factor for two persons commuting to/from work (i.e. both persons spending $2400 per year to drive an equal distance of 12,000 miles per year) where one person has a $100K annual income, and the other person has a $50K annual income.

Jack wrote in Comment # 255894: I believe passionately in democracy - LIMIITED by the rule of law and just plain limited government. Not everything should be put to a vote. Some things are just none of my/our business.
How is this Carbon tax and the philosophy of using taxation to modify voters’ behaviors consistent with “limited government”, “less government”, and “using government and taxation sparingly”? How do you reconcile your Carbon tax (using taxes to modify behavior) with “limited government”, “free market”, “free choice”, and basic “freedom” philosophies?

Or is the overriding priority to continue to make the tax system more and more regressive, and perpetuate or worsen these abuses, at every chance possible?

Posted by: d.a.n at June 18, 2008 11:25 AM
Comment #255913

Jack,
Why I like your idea of a “Carbon Tax” as a Republican I am surprised that you do not take that argument out further. For if an Individual would invest in turning the excess carbon in the air and in the trash they generate into usable energy for a small profit (Basic Needs as a Citizen)than shouldn’t their “Carbon Tax” be lowered?

For why Bio-Mass Generators and Carbon Collectors may by new technology to many citizens, the idea of composting is as old as the Hills and can provide the fuel of the future. So, why I feel the pain of the oil and energy companies of the world I would like to see both Senator McCain and Senator Obama address the possibilities of “We the People” being allowed to invest in selling the Commerce and Industry of America with the power they need to increase the furnaces of society.

For why the Right can cry that drilling for oil may give us X number of years and the Left can talk about the harms of nuclear power. something tells me that the ideology of getting paid for driving down the road has to be an American Thing.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at June 18, 2008 11:27 AM
Comment #255914

Dan

Your analogy of tax as a form of behavior control gave me a bit of a laugh. Not in the sense that it is funny. But in that it is all too true. This is what we have come to. And to think a republican, the supposed antithesis of taxation theory would be advocating for another burdensome tax. I guess taxation is acceptable so long as it applies to republican policy or serves to fuel a particular market philosophy. Go figure.

I do not think any of us are being allowed to see the big picture here with regards to what is driving these high costs. I do not believe it is supply and demand alone. I feel that the supply and demand theory is just an excuse to cloak an agenda which is a bit more devious in nature. I think the word collusion could be used within a global context to explain what is happening. But then it seems no one can really say for sure just what is going on. One thing we can be sure of is that the ultra wealthy do have some influence in the outcome. I suspect that they are merely trying to insure that the situation plays out to their advantage for various reasons. The rest of us are left to speculate and suffer the consequences.

And for those of you who would question my motivations here; no, I am not a men in black suits nut who thinks there is a conspiracy behind every door. But I do believe that there is much we are not allowed to know to its full extent or have a say in, in order that others may gain at our expense. Greed, wealth and power are inducements that will drive people to unusual lengths in order that they may acquire or retain it.

Posted by: RickIL at June 18, 2008 11:30 AM
Comment #255919

Jack

Carbon doesn’t recongize income levels. If a poor couple is emitting CO2 they should do less of it. We should give no breaks to anybody on the carbon.

While it may not recognize income levels it certainly would affect any income level. My point was that some people are stuck in a catch 22. They in many cases are already as a result of high energy costs emitting less CO2 than their wealthier counterparts. For some it may mean a possibility of a drastic decrease in already minimal energy usage in order that they can feed their families first. Possibly that they can no longer commute to work resulting in loss of jobs etc.

What will happen to the small towns if everyone that works suddenly becomes responsible and moves to the larger towns in order to avoid commuting costs? Will the small towns dry up and go away? Or will they turn into retirement areas for the wealthy who are the only ones who will be able to afford to live there? Are we in the process of shaping a new society in which the working class live only in the cities in order that efficiency can be obtained to its greatest degree? Some will have to live by a very minimum of energy usage while their neighbors who can afford it will be quite comfortable. I see here yet another distinction that will further define the differences in classes. I am not being argumentative here. It just seems to me that the big picture says this is where we are headed. Am I in your opinion wrong?

Posted by: RickIL at June 18, 2008 11:57 AM
Comment #255921

RickIl,
Could it be that some of the Elders and Powers-that-Be see it as why for Americans to step up to the plate and secure the Future for the Children of the 21st Century?

For why Granddad can build a Better Bathroom, something tells me that the Grandsons of the Barons of Society have been busy planning for these Political Winds of Change since the 1970’s.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at June 18, 2008 12:01 PM
Comment #255924

d.a.n. says, “Perhaps we should tax spoons and food too, since they make people fat?
And perhaps we should tax penz and pencilz for mispellin’ wordz?
That is, there ain’t any problem that can be solved with another tax, eh?
And of course, all of those new tax revenues will be used responsibly to invent energy alternatives and reduce the $9.4 Trillion National Debt (given enough time, such as a few centuries).”

Hurrah for d.a.n. Politicians say, “We can’t drill our way out of the energy crisis, but we can tax our way out.” Cap and trade is a scheme for government to create a scarcity and then sell what it has made scarce. Clap, applause, please Mr. Government Man, stick it to me some more.

Posted by: Jim M at June 18, 2008 1:01 PM
Comment #255926
RickIL wrote: But then it seems no one can really say for sure just what is going on.
There are many causes for the high fuel costs:
  • (1) OPEC alone can not control world oil prices. Speculation and other manifestations of unchecked greed are a large part of high prices;
  • (2) oil companies are not exploring and/or drilling on hundreds of millions of acres in the U.S. so as to limit supply; some of this is only partly due to environmental restrictions; the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) spends a lot of time and effort to investigate the competitive conditions in retail gasoline markets, but find little or anything illegal, and not drilling on hundreds of millions of acres of oil and gas leases in the U.S. is not illegal;
  • (3) lack of alternative energy sources, and there are most likely some people (and corporations) that want to keep it that way; to keep us addicted to oil;
  • (4) the over-selling of corn (and all the pork-barrel, subsidies, and corporate welfare), when other crops (e.g. sugar cane) can produce 7+ times more ethanol;
  • (5) instability and uncertainty in the Middle East, Venezuela, and Africa exacerbates the situation; an unnecessary war based on flawed intelligence didn’t help; why is the U.S. still in Iraq? Does it have something to do with oil?
  • (6) balkanization and alienation of certain gasoline markets causes price differentials across regions, and exacerbates seasonal prices;
  • (7) environmental regulation and protections, such as EPA federal fuel standards;
  • (8) in the past, price controls had unintended consequences that actually affected supply/demand and increased prices, and raising taxes will have some similar results;
  • (9) retail gasoline prices are slow to fall when oil prices fall, due to inelastic demand (that is, many people still have to drive to work);
  • (10) seasonal demands and weather conditions;
  • (11) high oil prices are being driven by China’s huge demand for oil and energy;
  • (12) petroleum is not an infinite resource; technology has improved the ability to locate and obtain it, but it may not be enough when China, India, Asia, and other regions are using as much as the U.S. per capita;
  • (13) a severely bloated, corrupt, wasteful, and incompetent Congress;
  • (14) the Dept. Of Energy keeps telling us alternative sources of energy aren’t reliable;
  • (15) there’s a long, long waiting list for Smart Cars. Why?
  • (16) poor planning and leadership; lack of mass transit; urban sprawl;
  • (17) thanks to the mortgage meltdown, ENRON style banking and predatory lending practices, many people can’t afford to move closer to work;
  • (18) unemployment, foreclosures, inflation, regressive taxation, illegal immigration, corpocrisy, unaffordable and dangerous healthcare, declining quality of education, and these other abuses contining to take their toll, resulting in some of the worst economic conditions ever and/or since the 1930s or 1940s;
  • (19) inflation; the U.S. Dollar has fallen drastically against all international currencies since year 1999: One-Simple-Idea.com/USD_Falling.htm
  • (20) ;
  • (21) and too many voters that repeatedly reward irresponsible incumbent politicians in do-nothing Congresss with perpetual re-election; but perhaps that is because too many voters are too busy working to pay for gasoline, upside-down mortgages, and food (or standing in line at the food bank or unemployment office)?
  • (22) President Bush tells us the solution to our woes is to go shopping.
RickIL wrote: One thing we can be sure of is that the ultra wealthy do have some influence in the outcome. I suspect that they are merely trying to insure that the situation plays out to their advantage for various reasons. The rest of us are left to speculate and suffer the consequences.
No doubt about it. Greed and other manifestations of unchecked greed are part of the problem (see (1),…,(4), (13),…,(22) above).
Jim M wrote: Politicians say, “We can’t drill our way out of the energy crisis, but we can tax our way out.” Cap and trade is a scheme for government to create a scarcity and then sell what it has made scarce. Clap, applause, please Mr. Government Man, stick it to me some more.
True. Sad isn’t it? Have you ever seen any government do so little with so much (19% of $13.9 Trillion GDP)? It should be in the Guinness Book of World Records.

At any rate, the voters have the government that the voters elect (and deserve).

Posted by: d.a.n at June 18, 2008 1:21 PM
Comment #255929

d.a.n.


You miss the point. A carbon tax is indeed regressive. If you are concerned with greenhouse gases, you cannot let that stop you. Every change will “hurt the poor” more. It is the nature of being poor. You can put in compensatory cuts in payroll taxes or earned income credits if you want to address that problem, but if you mix up these two things, you cannot find a solution.

Re using taxes to change behavior. You do not worry about global warming or you prioritize convenience over that solution. We disagree. It is that simple.

Henry

When you complicate the solution, you make it less likely to achieve the goals. You also set up scope for corruption and obfuscation. The carbon tax is elegant and simple. That is why it is unpopular. Most people would rather talk & complain than find solutions.

Most solutions are simple, but not easy. The carbon tax is like that.

RickIL

If you want to help the poor, go with the earned income tax credit or payroll tax reduction. Make that tax revenue neutral. You will actually be giving the poor MORE choices than they have now.

The idea that a carbon tax hurts the poor is invalid. You can make the adjustments I mentioned above if it is a problem.

I DO believe in conspiracies on this thing. The carbon tax is too simple and effective for the politicians and the chattering classes to accept. It cuts the issue out from under those who like to pontificate and be better than everybody else and it stops politicians from giving out the pork to their special friends.

Posted by: Jack at June 18, 2008 1:51 PM
Comment #255933
Jack wrote: d.a.n. You miss the point. A carbon tax is indeed regressive.
Not true.

A carbon tax is not the solution.
So, you agree a carbon tax will be regressive, and you think that is OK?

Jack wrote: If you are concerned with greenhouse gases, you cannot let that stop you.
False.

There are other ways.
According to your comment, the means justifies the end?
However, there are many other more common-sense approaches.
A carbon tax is not the solution.
We can not tax our way out of every problem.

Jack wrote: Every change will “hurt the poor” more. It is the nature of being poor.
Not true.

There are many other more common-sense approaches (non-regressive solutions) that won’t hurt the poor, and that are not regressive.
We can not tax our way out of every problem.
Especially when do-nothing Congress is unlikely to use those tax revenues to research and develop better energy altneratives.

Jack wrote: You can put in compensatory cuts in payroll taxes or earned income credits if you want to address that problem, but if you mix up these two things, you cannot find a solution.
That’s wonderful … let’s make things more complicated and obfuscated than ever before.

What’s the point?
If your goal is to make producing carbon dioxide more painful, then why compensate with income credits and deductions in ways to allow them to afford to afford to produce more carbon dioxide?

Again, a Carbon tax is a bad idea, unless there are alternatives available (which there are).
Besides, oil and gasoline prices are going to get more painful anyway without any help from the tax-happy politicians in do-nothing Congress.
There are alternatives, but action is needed to make them viable for more people.
Several alternatives could be ready within a few years with a combination of steps toward other alternatives and conservation.

Jack wrote: Re using taxes to change behavior. You do not worry about global warming or you prioritize convenience over that solution.
False.

There’s more than two choices.
I do worry about global warming.
But a Carbon tax is not the solution, and there are better ways.
Taxation is not the solution for every problem, and is inconsistent with claims for “limited government”, less government, and using government and taxation sparingly?
Focus is needed, and another regressive tax (among too many taxes and abuses that already exist) will only punish people without solving the problem.
Government can do many other more common-sense things:

  • (01) 4 day work week.

  • (02) employers stagger work-day start-times to reduce traffic congestion (e.g. starting at 6AM, 7AM, 8AM, 9AM, 10 AM);

  • (03) reduce speed limits 5 to 10 miles-per-hour;

  • (04) mandate higher miles-per-gallon standards for new automobiles;

  • (05) mandate higher energy efficient building standards;

  • (06) more wind power;

  • (07) more solar power;

  • (08) more E85/15 pumps and flex-fuel vehicles (existing vehichles can be converted with a kit for only a few hundred dollars);

  • (09) more crops that produce 7+ times more ethanol than corn;

  • (10) more mass transit;

  • (11) stop importing the impoverished, less educated, and less skilled by the millions annually (1 million legally and 4 million illegally);

  • (12) more research and other energy alternatives;

However, on the other hand, there might be one good reason for a carbon tax.
It will make most voters so angry that enough voters will finally do what most unhappy voters did in year 1933 (during the Great Depression), when they ousted a whopping 206 incumbent politicians from Congress (44% of the incumbent politicians that were up for re-election).

Posted by: d.a.n at June 18, 2008 2:38 PM
Comment #255936

4 day work week.

I usually work a 50 to 60 hours a week. A ten hour day isn’t unusual. Saturdays are quite common. For paper pushers this may work. I know a number of Architecture firms doing this. For many of us this won’t work. Retail, for example.

Posted by: googlumpugus at June 18, 2008 3:48 PM
Comment #255949

There are a lot of conflicting takes on off-shore drilling, and it seems like the recommendations and programs, whether for or against, often conceal ulterior motives or alternate agendas.

According to this article by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), which seems pretty authoritative, off-shore drilling will make a minimal impact, basically because the off-shore fields are relatively small, take a long time to exploit, and are expensive to develop.

http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/aeo/otheranalysis/ongr.html

I’m not particularly in favor of the specifics of Obama’s platform. However, I am far more willing to trust him, and give him the benefit of the doubt to do what is right for the country- and I mean ALL of us, not just Big Oil- than I am willing to trust McCain.

Just recently, Obama had the guts to refuse to back a politically attractive, but economically stupid idea for a gas tax holidy. McCain and Hillary backed it in acts of craven political pandering. Remarkably, most Americans recognized the gas tax holiday was bull, because the situation needs to be FIXED on a long term basis.

The gas tax holiday would provide temporary relieft to truckers, who desperately need some help. I could see a system of tax credits and holidays for truckers to tide them over until the truck fleet is revamped.

Because that is the kind of change we need to make. NO ONE likes to make changes that big quickly. But like it or not, here we are…

Posted by: phx8 at June 18, 2008 5:27 PM
Comment #255954
phx8 wrote: … acts of craven political pandering …
Good description. We need to invent a tax to discourage that behavior. Posted by: d.a.n at June 18, 2008 6:52 PM
Comment #255964

Dan

Yes Dan we can call it the motivation tax. It will be used to create behavioral policy. I can see it now. I am a pretty big guy; I can envision pulling up to the gas pumps and having a device measure my height and weight to determine how much extra fuel it would take to move my extra flabby ass around and tax me appropriately. :) Why the hell not, after all a tax is easier than taking a more direct full speed ahead approach to our energy problems. An all out approach on making viable alternatives happen would simply be too much for our already adequately influenced legislators to comprehend. Now if we could somehow make alternatives worth their while perhaps they could accelerate the process and remove the barriers that are impeding progress. It is going to take lots of bucks to match the influence levels of the oil industry.

Posted by: RickIL at June 18, 2008 8:59 PM
Comment #255966
RickIL wrote: I can envision pulling up to the gas pumps and having a device measure my height and weight to determine how much extra fuel it would take …
Funny! : )

Sort of. : (

As you say … “Why the hell not”?

It does beg the question:

  • What will we tax next?

Tax-happy, do-nothing Congress does not lack for good ideas and solutions.
Congress is where good ideas go to die.

There are so many things government could do to take a leadership role; not only to help the nation, but the world too.
Has there ever been a government that had so much (i.e. $3 Trillion budget), and did so little with it?
You’d think a $3 Trillion annual budget (21.6% of the $13.9 Trillion GDP) could provide a tiny bit of leadership! ? !
Instead, what Congress does is possibly worse than doing nothing at all?

The nation has many pressing problems, growing in number and severity, dozens that have a real potential for long-term deterioration of economic conditions, many that are now already worse then ever and/or since the 1930s and 1940s.
But what does do-nothing Congress do?
Tax-happy Congress dreams of new taxes while giving themselves another raise (e.g. 9 times in the last 10 years), more perk$, benefit$, superior healthcare benefits, superior retirement benefits (and only after a few terms in office), and ways to make their cu$hy, coveted incumbencies more secure. All while our troops risk life and limb, go without armor, adequate medical care, and promised benefits.

And whenever Congress does reduce taxes, they wealthy get to pay a lower percentage, as evidenced by Warren Buffet who paid 17.7% in federal taxes on $46 Million (in 2006), while his secretary paid 30% on $60K.

However, the voters are culpable too.

The sooner enough voters realize that do-nothing Congress is like a giant anvil hanging around America’s neck, as America tries to swim upstream, and enough voters finally choose to vote-out as many of those worthless, corrupt, FOR-SALE, do-nothing incumbent politicians from office (as the voters did in year 1933 when they ousted 206 members of Congress), the sooner we’ll get something besides more foot-dragging, corruption, corpocrisy, regressive taxation, graft, and the perpetuation of these abuses … abuses that did not all come about by mere coincidence, and remain in existence for 30+ years.

The sooner, the better, because the nation has $53.2 Trillion of nation-wide debt (one more reason a carbon tax is a bad idea) …

    • Total Domestic Financial Sector Debt = $15.8 Trillion

    • Total Household Debt = $13.88 Trillion

    • Total Business Debt = $10.16 Trillion

    • Total Other Private Sector Foreign Debt = $1.8 Trillion

    • Total Federal Government National Debt = $9.4 Trillion

    • Total State and Local Government Debt = $2.2 Trillion

    • __________________________________________________

    • Total = $53.2 Trillion

    • Including the $12.8 Trillion borrowed and spent from Social Security, leaving it pay-as-you-go, with a 77 million baby boomer bubble approaching, the total is $66 Trillion! (over $216K per person).

… and no one can tell us where the money will come from to pay only the interest alone, much less the money to keep the principal from growing ever larger. Especially when that money does not yet exist, and 80% of all Americans own only 17% of all wealth in the U.S. Voters can not afford to continue to repeatedly reward irresponsible incumbent politicians with perpetual re-election. If they wait much longer, a lot more of them will very likely be jobless, homeless, and hungry. Who ever the next president is, the voters would be wise to not sabotage the next president with the same corrupt, irresponsible, incompetent Congress.

At any rate, the voters have the government that the voters elect (and deserve).

Posted by: d.a.n at June 19, 2008 12:10 AM
Comment #255967

Jake,
Seeing that carbon can be turned into energy and thus produce profit for an individual so that they can pay taxes to Governments plus buy goods and services from Society using the technology of the 20th Century. Why do you only want to take more money away from My Business, Stockholders, and Employees and offer nothing in return?

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at June 19, 2008 1:10 AM
Comment #255986

Rhinehold said: “This makes no sense to me. People have been working toward alternatives for decades. It takes time and technological advances we haven’t made yet.”

Research the EV-1, Rhinehold. Alternatives have been around, but vested interests prevent them from being marketed and sold to the public. The all electric car was made operational again in the late 1960’s by Univ. of Michigan graduate students using Corvair cars. I know, I was there as a guard while they were experimenting and improving them.

Thermal mass is a centuries old energy saver, but, vested interests refuse to allow the building industries to incorporate such techniques except in multi-million dollar one of a kind boutique structures.

Passive solar energy conservation and use are another centuries old technique that would dramatically decrease home heating oil consumption and electric AC cooling costs. Not to be incorporated by building codes due to vested corporate capitalist interests influencing and outright designing of those building codes.

Do you realize that American electric consumers have now paid many times over the initial cost to lay utility lines below ground, in repair and maintenance costs added to their bills over the decades from storms, squirrels, and trees, not to mention rot and replacement of wood poles set in the ground.

Corporate private enterprise has absolutely no interest in what is best for the nation or consumers in the long run. It is this quarter’s and this year’s profitability that dictate their actions, and if the future poses a competitive threat, they lean on government officials to remove such threats well in advance, or buy out such threats before they have a chance to grow and gain consumer favor. That is how we have arrived at this energy oligopoly we suffer from today.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 19, 2008 3:43 AM
Comment #255993

Jack,

People are buying smaller cars, moving closer to where they work, taking mass transit when possible, car pooling, driving less etc.

[…]

If you say you are an environmentalist and you are still being really hard hit by gas prices, perhaps you should look up the term hypocrite in the dictionary and stop calling yourself an environmentalist.

That’s assuming everyone can equally take these logical steps - buy smaller cars or moving closer to where they work. That’s assuming that these steps are free as in beer. That’s assuming people get easy credit to buy a smaller car whatever their incomes. That’s assuming houses near offices hub are not expensive than suburbans ones. That’s assuming you can’t be both environmentalist *and* poor.

Poor environmentlists that have mass transit or car pooling available are indeed hypocrites.
But chosing these altenative options, which are not more expensive indeed, are not ALWAYS or YET available. IIRC, we do have a debate on this fundamental difference between French and US rail infrastructure : the land scale is way larger. So do is the probability that car pooling and mass transit is nowhere near an american.

That’s not high gas price which make people poor still poor. That the lack of money, period. Doesn’t make them automatically hypocrite environmentalists.

Talking about hypocrisy:

I think McCain may resist raising taxes. I am almost 100% sure Democrats will raise taxes and Obama will certainly keep the price of gas high […] I favor higher taxes on gas.

If you say you are an environmentalist and you are still voting for a policy which will less probably keep gas prices high than the other one, perhaps you should look up the term hypocrite in the dictionary and stop calling yourself an environmentalist.

Works both way, Jack.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at June 19, 2008 6:19 AM
Comment #255994
It’s a desperate wish to avoid change. Everyone knows we need to develop an alternative energy policy and alternative energies RIGHT NOW. No more wishful thinking. It’s time.

Nope, it’s LATE.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at June 19, 2008 6:21 AM
Comment #255995
Do you not feel the pain already being experienced by people around the world? Do you not understand that these feel good policies have already caused needless suffering?

Financial speculators, not environmentalists, are causing the current suffering worldwide.
Business is business, and suffer was always a lucrative one.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at June 19, 2008 6:25 AM
Comment #255996

Rhinehold,

artificially upping the cost of energy, as some would recommend, is even more dangerous and will just increase the prices of everything for no gain.Big oils strongly disagree!

I dunno for american oil industry, but european ones is using pretty much all gain from high gas prices to develop and build wind farms, solar farms, geothermic & biomass plants, hydroelectrical industries.

Sounds like a good gain to me.
Not you?

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at June 19, 2008 6:30 AM
Comment #255997

Rhinehold,

It isn’t that we didn’t start soon enough or that we haven’t put enough money into it or that we aren’t hurting enough. It is simply that we don’t have the technology ready yet.

BS. It’s because the american way of life is not negociable.

There is a solution available since day one : consume LESS energy. We could have switched to this new energy-savy way of life kindly during the last decade and in the same time develop new technologies, hoping some will allow to keep life standard at same if not higher level.

But instead, we choose to stay the course toward that big wall coming fast, driving proudly our last overpriced SUV (and that’s not only a metaphore).

And people are surprised discovering crash could hurt!? Yeah right.

Nobody could say they didn’t knew. It was written in big letters on the wall, since decades : change course NOW!

Let’s hope people enjoyed the ride, at least.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at June 19, 2008 6:43 AM
Comment #255998
Corporate private enterprise has absolutely no interest in what is best for the nation or consumers in the long run. It is this quarter’s and this year’s profitability that dictate their actions, and if the future poses a competitive threat, they lean on government officials to remove such threats well in advance, or buy out such threats before they have a chance to grow and gain consumer favor. That is how we have arrived at this energy oligopoly we suffer from today.

While I agree fully, consumers allow it. Consumerism is what make incredibly and quickly profitable to waste limited earth resource.

Now that consumers wants to buy ONLY renewable resources or goodies made off, these profiters panics and, unfortunatly, governments they lobby since so long help them to keep their waste businesses up until their last day. Raping our future in the process.


Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at June 19, 2008 6:53 AM
Comment #256001

Jack,

Every change will “hurt the poor” more.

Indeed. And being poor and environmentalist is not antagonist, so please don’t call them hypocrites while they’re hurt harder by the forced change everyone have to do now.
Thanks.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at June 19, 2008 7:08 AM
Comment #256064

Philippe,
“It’s LATE.”
Well, that is very true. It’s not like we didn’t know this was coming. What we are seeing is the “free market” at work. Many people think it’s a conspiracy, but I don’t think that’s the case. It’s a fairly simple case of demand outstripping supply.

There’s an underlying fallacy behind American thinking. We believe the “free market” will help us. We think it will work in our favor. Of course, no one would openly say that. But it’s the underlying belief. When the “free market” works against us, the deep seated belief is that something must be interfering with the market. If it works against the US, it must be unfair.

Posted by: phx8 at June 19, 2008 6:31 PM
Comment #256086

David

I am sure you have a really nice earth home. I hope to build something like that in the future. What both of us have that many people do not is the luxury of space. You can build an earth sheltered, ecohome if you have the space and the proper south facing slope. Most people live in cities or densely populated suburbs. They just cannot do these sorts of things so easily.

Re consumers and energy – as you may recall, I lived many years in Eastern Europe. Maybe we don’t like the system we got in America all the time, but when you see the alternatives you see there is not much to complain about here.

Phillipe

When I was poor, I didn’t own a car or drive very much with anybody else. I took public transportation, but mostly walked or rode my bike. I did not go on distant vacations and I shared a small house with five other people. If you are REALLY poor, you are already living a fairly carbon thrifty lifestyle. If you are poor but consuming like a rich guy, maybe you are not really poor, just whining.

It is a very interesting dynamic we have at work. So many people say they are in favor of a cleaner environment – as long as somebody else makes all the changes.

BTW – as long as you are here, I want to compliment you again on the French system that gets 78% of its electricity from nuclear energy.

Posted by: Jack at June 20, 2008 1:20 AM
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