Hidden Costs

The discussions on two threads, “Protectionism and the Detroit Bailout” and “Do-Over,” have made me think about the hidden costs of transportation.

Of course, the hidden costs of transportation matter a great deal. For instance, the hidden costs of gasoline and natural gas allow thugs like Hugo Chavez to destroy the civil society of Venezuela, and reckless men like Vladimir Putin to invade his country’s neighbors.

Hidden costs come in terms of infrastructure investments. For, so instance, the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways is essentially a subsidy on the price of gas, because it makes gasoline for cars much more useful than it otherwise would be. Similarly, a Detroit bailout would also subsidize consumption of gasoline, by taking capital that would otherwise be invested elsewhere, and using it to build SUVs like the Cadillac Escale and the Hummer.

However, things don’t need to be this way. Instead of building infrasturcture and supporting bailouts which empower destructive men like Hugo Chavez and Vladimir Putin, we could build a better fuel infrastructure. We could turn the hidden costs to be on the side of the good guys.

Projects like…

… point the way forward. Now, there are policy choices to be made. Should for instance, we encourage electric cars which use no gasoline, or hybrids that can scale faster? Likewise, to what extent should America lead alone, and what extent should the move off fossil fuels come from global cooperation?

Future threats are not from massive coordinated nuclear strikes that made the interstate highway system necessary, or even resource wars between rising countries.

Washington has an unusual amount of power during this crisis, during this inflection point in our economic history. Let’s hope that Barack Obama proves himself to be a forward-looking President, and helps move us off of oil and natural gas.

Obama’s Cabinet: One Bad Choice

Clearly, we aren’t done with identity politics yet.

Tom’s reactions to Obama’s cabinet picks are pretty typical of much of the informed punditry, and rightly so.  Clinton is a good choice for State, Gates at Defense, Daschle at Health, Jones at NSA.  Obama is taking his job as President-Elect seriously, and he will be surrounded by very smart and capable people.

So that ‘he’s black’ is the first thing that is mentioned in this list about potential Attorney General Eric Holder is, I think, telling of the emptiness of the choice.

Holder is a solid choice, yielding the first African-American AG. If you’re going to pull off any additional “first” of this sort, that’s about the coolest, most symbolic place to do it. I always liked Holder under Clinton. He seems very much in no-drama-Obama mold.

For now, Obama’s picks strike me as encouraging (Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog).

Sadly, Holder’s support for censoring the internet and deporting refugees back to Communist states makes me doubt the wisdom of Holder’s nomination.  That is, both as an advocate for laws and an enforcer of laws, Eric Holder has sided against freedom and for authoriarian control.

Unlike Obama’s other picks, Eric Holder is a disaster in the making.  Consider this exchange, after police in riot gear took Elian Gonzales from his home in America, to send him back to Cuba

JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO, FOX NEWS JUDICIAL ANALYST: Isn’t it clear in that — in that Court of Appeals ruling, preliminary though it may be, that the court ruled that the INS may not do exactly what it did this morning, which is without a court order change the guardian of this child?

When is the last time a boy, a child, was taken at the point of a gun without an order by a judge? Unprecedented in American history.

HOLDER: He was not taken at the point of a gun.

Holder is either incompetent, or a liar.  He either did not know of the most famos picture of the entire Elian Gonzales affair, or he hoped by denying it he could make it go away.

Unlike Biden, Clinton, Gates, Jones, Daschle, etc., etc., Holder is a bad pick and a disaster in the making.  Eric Holder should not be Obama’s choice to head the Department of Justice.