Wrong Republican Way on Geo-Green

Gas-thirsty cars imperil U.S., conservative ex-officials warn,” by Edward Epstein, San Francisco Chronicle, 7 April 2005, http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/04/07/MNGIAC4EBC1.DTL (from Clean Cut Kid).

Republican big-wigs are joining the geogreen fight

Take record high gasoline prices, add in fears of terrorist strikes against Middle East oil fields and a growing financial drain on the country, and you produce a band of national security conservatives who sound like environmentalists in urging President Bush and Congress to push for U.S. energy independence by weaning Americans from oil use.

It makes no sense to import vast amounts of oil from unstable petrokleptocracies. Oil revenues allow corrupt elites to avoid real reform and buy-off (often dangerous) special interests. It diverts capital from New Core growth economies to these backwords pits. It helps funds Islamic terrorism. It exposes us to another oil shock.

That said, the proposed solution is foolish

The conservatives, including some top national security figures from the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, recently sent the White House a letter saying it is time to raise the mandated fuel efficiency on autos and turn away from petroleum-fueled vehicles in favor of such alternative fuels as ethanol, bio-diesel or electricity and more hybrid cars and trucks

We have a real problem, and the dinosauric solution is mandated fuel efficiency. Using vertical controls as clubs. Genius.

When a fuel efficiency standard is mandated, it basically says there is no term of trade that makes consumption above the standard beneficial. This is a belief characteristic of command-and-control economies, not modern free markets. Further, mandated standards increase misery for everyone. The mandates cost a greater fraction of the poor’s income to comply with, but they offer the rich no way to “buy society off” and divert their excess capital to the general welfare for private purposes.

On the other hand, a high but rebated gas tax would be beneficial to the poorest while encouraging the rich to divert their extra cash for everyone’s good. Create a heavy gas tax, but fully rebate it to American citizens (every citizen gets a proportionate share of the revenue). Now that’s a plan everyone can get behind.

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