Friday, November 23, 2007

A Reasonable Response

I think that talk of our oil "addiction" is silly. We utilize a natural resource to achieve unprecedented prosperity. How are we "addicted" to this resource any more than Copper our other resources? Indeed, if we didn't extract and use oil, it would be a contaminant lying in the ground.

The only reason we speak of oil as a particular problem is that much of the source of oil lies in Moslem nations. Whether directly or indirectly, Western money going to these oil exporters fuels jihadi terrorism.

So we need to do something to diversify our energy sources. With oil prices and demand going up, I see nothing wrong with an energy compromise along these lines:

Here is what we might do: Raise fuel economy standards for new cars and trucks; gradually increase the gas tax (possibly offset with tax cuts) to induce people to buy those vehicles; expand oil and natural gas production in Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico and off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. These steps would, with time, temper the power of oil producers while also checking greenhouse gases. But many liberals, conservatives and environmentalists oppose parts of a sensible compromise. The stalemate hurts mainly us.

I use a hundred gallons of gasoline per month, so I'd really like that tax offset. But regardless, couldn't Congress try to legislate on common areas instead of flailing about appeasing their base that hates President Bush?

In short, Bush hatred is not a rational response to actual Bush perfidy. Rather, Bush hatred compels its progressive victims--who pride themselves on their sophistication and sensitivity to nuance--to reduce complicated events and multilayered issues to simple matters of good and evil. Like all hatred in politics, Bush hatred blinds to the other sides of the argument, and constrains the hater to see a monster instead of a political opponent.

In the short run, we don't need to replace oil to combat one fuel for terrorism. We just need to reduce demand for oil relative to supply sufficiently to drive the price of oil down. Once trends point to the replacement of oil, long before oil is actually replaced, the oil producers will seek to export their resource while they can and drive down the price even more. Nobody will think oil reserves are an asset when other sources of energy mean that nobody wants the hassle of using oil.

We really do need an oil policy. The reality-debased community needs to take a deep breath, count to ten, and actually try letting Congress legislate on American needs. And conservatives shouldn't let opposition to mandated fuel standards stop a bargain to start us on this virtuous cycle.