In lieu of a YouTube Friday video, I’ve decided to write about something that is even more fun…energy policy. Actually, I just wanted an excuse to use the phrase “In lieu of.” If you haven’t noticed, gas is well over $4 a gallon. Even more shocking than the actual price is the rate at which its rising. Less then a week ago I filled up for $3.95 at the Arco and just hours ago I filled up at the same station at $4.09. The Chevron station near my work was $4.09 yesterday, today it was $4.23! Its crazy. At first blush this would appear to be a bad thing. And at 2nd blush, 3rd blush, and probably all the way up to, like, 12th blush. In the short run it is a very bad thing. No one was ready for this. But in the long term, maybe its not so bad.
Ok, before you write me off as a nut case let me explain. There are basically only two ways to solve a crisis if you happen to be someone who has some measure of power over such things, like a politician for instance. The first way is to make everybody happy. Unfortunately this has only happened twice in human history, when George Washington was unamimously elected President and when Mama’s Family was cancelled by an act of Congress. So the Everybody is Happy option is pretty much out. It just ain’t gonna happen. The second option is to make everybody mad. This one is rarely put into practice as most politcians will try to appeal to one side or the other, their base, and so one side ends up happy, one side ends up mad, they get into a gridlock and nothing happens. So, if I were All Powerful President of the Universe, or at least the United States, I would enact a policy of Universal Anger.
First, I would do something along the lines of what Tom Friedman wrote in his column today. Yes I would keep gas prices high. Look, the only way we can ever get off oil is if people are basically forced to stop buying it, at least in such large SUV powering quantities. Since gas prices have been on the rise people are changing their habits. They’re buying hybrids and taking the bus more. For me its not an environment thing. If reducing global warming, if that is what is happening (see here for my thoughts on that) is a biproduct of that then that’s just peachy. But my main concern is a national security one. Besides Canada where do we get our oil? Mostly from countires that we don’t like and that don’t like us. We’re basically funding the bad guys. So, to curb the guzzling I’d tax gas to keep it high, use the money mostly for infrastructure upgrades, and put some sort of tax break in place for folks under a certain salary threshold, say, earning less than six figures, to offset the gas tax. This would make pretty much everybody mad at first, especially tax-slashing conservatives, of which I would usually count myself.
Now to balance the scales and get the Left all hot and bothered I’d do a couple of things. Expand domestic oil exploration. Sorry tree huggers, that means doing a little drilling off the coasts, but don’t worry the dericks will be so far out you won’t even notice them. Also, more nuclear! Europe is like 80% nukes, and we’re like 2%. Since when do we sit back and let Europe beat us at anything.
So there’s my plan. Or at least a couple of the major parts of it. I don’t like paying four bucks a gallon more than anyone else, and at this point there really isn’t much I can do to change my gas consumption habits. I still have to drive to work everyday and I can’t afford a more efficient car at the moment. But this is the world we live in. Gas tax holidays and hoping Hugo Chavez will give us a discount isn’t going to change things. Sure I’m no expert, and I’m sure anyone with half a brain more than me could give me a laundry list of reasons why these are bad ideas, but unless they’ve got something better to offer, I don’t see any other option. Maybe I’ll buy a horse.