Monday, May 05, 2008

Stupid Ideas, Stupid Policy

You know, I'm not happy to be paying $3.50 a gallon for gas either -- I too can't afford to drive anywhere. The kid wanted to go to Tulsa for her birthday, my parents wanted us to come to New Orleans for their anniversary, we can't even afford to drive up to Fayetteville to visit the Target, frankly, not with gasoline eating away at our food budget.

But this is not the solution -- Clinton and McCain's Nifty plan to team up and rebate the gas tax. That's very nearly the worse plan ever. Cut the tax on the thing that's causing the problem?

Check Friedman out (I'm no Friedman fan, mind you, but he's right on:

Few Americans know it, but for almost a year now, Congress has been bickering over whether and how to renew the investment tax credit to stimulate investment in solar energy and the production tax credit to encourage investment in wind energy. The bickering has been so poisonous that when Congress passed the 2007 energy bill last December, it failed to extend any stimulus for wind and solar energy production. Oil and gas kept all their credits, but those for wind and solar have been left to expire this December. I am not making this up. At a time when we should be throwing everything into clean power innovation, we are squabbling over pennies.

These credits are critical because they ensure that if oil prices slip back down again — which often happens — investments in wind and solar would still be profitable. That’s how you launch a new energy technology and help it achieve scale, so it can compete without subsidies.

So cut the gas tax, so we can buy more gas, so we can fill up more SUV tanks, so we can drive more miles, so we can -- what? End up with nothing.

Instead of doing what we ought to have been doing for the past 30 years, what we should start doing now: subsidizing alternative sources of travel and alternative fuel sources.

Say this to someone on the Right, and the answer you get is, oh, too bad, we don't have trolley cars, we don't have a system of light rail, live in the real world, can't you?

They'll keep saying that until we drive right off the end of the pier.

Stop funding the dying system so heavily, start building the alternative systems now, and by the time we get to the end of the pier, maybe we will have those systems in place.

(Same thing with health care, by the way: stop funding our dying system so heavily, start funding the alternative system, eh, voila.)

(All of which would work a deal better if we didn't have this albatross of a war around our necks, I admit. But whose fault is that?)


zelda1 said...

While it's true that we need to start investing in new sources for fuel, the short term of it is that we only have what we have and Hillary's oil package is the best source of relief for people in the here and now. Unfortuantely, during this crisis, we can't worry about new types of energy when people are struggling to get to work. Hillary, unlike Obama or McCain, wants to hold oil companies accountable and not give them breaks. She wants to make it impossible for them to get the 400 percent profit. Plus she wants to take on OPEC. Read her entire package. It, like her health care package, is for people like us.

I understand that what needs to be done is come up with new solutions such as a new fuel source, better intown transportation, safer and cleaner and energy efficient cars, but the crisis that we have in front of us is the cost of gas keeps right on a climbing and we have to do something now or none of us will be able to go anywhere. Hillary, in a speech that I recently listened to online, says that making other fuel sources available is one of her goals and she listed among other things finding fuel that is cheaper and eco friendly ect...

By the way, we put thirty bucks in the tank and ended up with a fourth of tank. That'll get Mr. Zelda to and from work about two days. I'm taking the bus. Yeah for the bus.

delagar said...

I agree we have to do something; I just don't think this is it. Releasing fuel reserves, maybe? Investigations into some of those record profits oil companies have been showing?

Anonymous said...

You can't see, but I'm standing up and applauding right now. Kudos to you, delagar.