With the meltdown in foreign hydrocarbon prices, the panic gripping Detroit, and the rise of Obama and Waxman, we are in a Great Do-Over. This summer, we saw how out-of-sync the world can get through an exclusive focus on economic growth. We let parasites like Russia grow unchecked in power, and we did not have the infrastructure we needed to free ourselves of them.
Supposedly serious analysts announced an end to peace, and urged us to accept the reality that oil- and natural-gas- rich nations would be invading their neighbors as they like from now on. Accept it, we were told.
Now, while oil and natural gas prices are low, we have the opportunity to act. We should raise the national gas tax to at least $1/gallon more, but refund it through the tax code so it does not hurt the poor. We should build light rail in and between our cities. We should mandate flex-fuel vehicles, both to lower the structural demand for gas and to allow us to quickly move off it in the event we have to for national security reasons.
For the second time in two generations, the hydrocarbon-rich states were given the power of high commodity prices. Of course, they blew it again, maximizing their short-term profit and helping drive the world economy into a global recession.
We were fortunate that most of them (Russia excluded, of course) were just greedy, and not irredentist.
We may not be so lucky the third time.