Q&A Friday #25: What About An Energy Independence Program?

Question: Which of the following is the real reason President Bush refuses to go before the nation and commit us to a man-on-the-moon-style energy independence program, in which America vows to do what it takes to wean ourselves from fossil fuels in the next 10 years:

1. The thought hasn’t occurred to him.
2. He’s too deep in the pocket of the oil cartels.
3. He needs to keep the Saudis happy and rich.
4. He thinks the free market ought to determine such things.
5. He thinks if we drill in ANWR all will be well.” — Harry

Answer: The answer would be #4) “He thinks the free market ought to determine such things.”

Here’s the thing to keep in mind, especially when it comes to complex issues: The government is slow, stupid, and incredibly expensive while the market is fast, intelligent and relatively cheap. That’s why we want the market, not the government, making the key decisions about energy.

If oil continues to be as expensive as it is today, the market will adjust to that in a myriad of different ways. People will start to buy more fuel efficient cars to save money. Car manufacturers will try to make more fuel efficient cars to meet demand. Scientists will work on ways to make engines more efficient. Companies will invest more money in alternate technologies. New drilling techniques will be developed. It’ll go on and on and on in a hundred different ways, most of which, 99.99% of the population won’t even notice, until the problem is alleviated or at least manageable.

If the government wants to help speed things along, let them hand out tax breaks and low interest loans to people or corporations they believe are doing important work. But, the Federal government needs to steer clear of a “man-on-the-moon-style energy independence program,” not because the Federal government just isn’t competent enough to rise to that sort of challenge, but because there could be enormous consequences to having the Feds monkey around too much with how we power the engine of our economy.

The market has proven itself over and over throughout history and it should be allowed to do so again in this case.

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