Picken-s your pockets and Gore-ing your rights. What a team.
Are Picken’s TV ads part of Al Gore’s 300 million media campaign?
They’re sitting back counting their sheep. Are you one?
Virtually every claim made by T. Boone
Pickens to justify the lavish subsidies he is seeking for his wind
energy investments is flat wrong.
First, oil imports are not the
cause of high gasoline prices. On the contrary, oil imports serve to
keep gasoline prices down. After all, we import oil for a reason —
it’s cheaper than the domestic alternative. If we were to restrict our
energy diet to energy produced in the United States, it would make
domestic energy producers (like Mr. Pickens) far richer and energy
consumers (the rest of us) far poorer, and GDP would be reduced as
well. While one can understand why Mr. Pickens is attracted to the idea
of “energy independence,” for the rest of us, keeping the country open
to imported goods is pro-consumer, whether we’re talking about oil,
steel, textiles or athletic shoes.
Second, we are no more forced
to rely on the “goodwill” of foreign oil producers when we shop for
petroleum than we are forced to rely on the “goodwill” of supermarkets
when we shop for eggs and milk. Oil producers export crude oil because
it’s a great way to make money — and for many, the only way to make
money. And once that oil is in the global marketplace, market actors,
not oil producers, dictate where it goes. Hence, we are betting on
producer greed — which is a pretty safe bet.
Third, if wind
energy were a sensible economic investment, it would not need the
lavish federal and state subsidies already in place or the additional
largesse sought after by Mr. Pickens. Likewise, if compressed natural
gas (CNG) vehicles are an economically sensible alternative to
conventional gasoline-powered vehicles, then no government “master
plan” is necessary to deliver them to market. Price signals will induce
investors to invest and consumers to buy, without government having to
lift a finger. The same goes for all the other energy-related R&D
Mr. Pickens would like the taxpayer to dole out. If that R&D is
promising, it will be pursued, whether government subsidizes it or not.
if reducing our carbon footprint is the goal, then the most direct and
efficient means of reducing that footprint is to impose a tax on carbon
emissions and then leave it to the market to sort out how to most
efficiently order affairs under those new prices. Maybe it will mean
windmills and CNG, but maybe not. Perhaps it will mean more nuclear
power, new hydrogen-powered fuel cells, “clean” coal, the emergence of
cellulosic ethanol, battery-powered cars or hybrids — or a
continuation of the existing energy base but less consumption as a
Of course, if the market were to go into any of
those directions, Mr. Pickens would be out a lot of money, which is
probably why he wants to hard-wire the market to consume the things
he’s investing in and have the government lavish him with subsidies in
the course of doing so. I wish Mr. Pickens well in his wind energy
business, but I see no reason why taxpayers, ratepayers or consumers
ought to be forced to sacrifice in order to fatten his already ample
bank account. – Jerry Taylor is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute.