Saturday, February 19, 2005

The politics of green

Paul Krugman makes a good case for pushing energy conservation. Namely that reducing our dependency on foreign oil would reduce the economic and political power of undemocratic regimes in Iran, Saudia Arabia, Sudan and Russia (which has been stepping back from democratic reforms as of late).

I would go one step further than Krugman to say not only is conservation necessary to strengthen our hand, but also the increase of domestic production (ANWAR - the oil field, not the assassinated Egyptian leader).

On a related note, NPR had piece recently on how oil-producing countries will be able to start selling more to China to avoid reform pressure from the U.S.

1 comment:

Jeffrey Hill said...

Friedman brought up a serious dilemma regarding our fuel dependency and its adverse effects on our foreign policy. I’m in favor of the U.S. becoming more energy independent, which eventually means developing alternative fuel sources? Currently, I patiently wait for the development of a car that will either have significantly better gas mileage than the little Civic I now drive (the hybrids aren’t there yet) or even better, a hydrogen car – assuming that it doesn’t take too much fossil fuel to make the hydrogen fuel for the car. But Friedman’s solutions are more problematic than they are realistic.

Humvee free college zone…I personally don’t like civilian Humvees and can’t see the practicality of them. Not only do they block my view when I’m behind or beside one (as does virtually every other car on the road when your in a Civic), but they guzzle fuel and they’re probably a pain in the ass to park. But I would never be so audacious to suggest that others couldn’t drive one. If they can afford it and suffer through the aforementioned hassles with parking and gas, then that’s their business. If the market prices the Humvees out of the range of those wallets, so be it, but an artificial measure isn’t a good idea. I would hope that our college campuses have better things to do than performing exercises in intolerance.

Free parking for hybrid cars…regardless of the fact that hybrids currently don’t get much better mileage than small conventional economy cars, does the President or Congress have any authority to make this mandate? Of course not! I hope Friedman’s wife isn’t suggesting that the feds force owners of private property to allow hybrids to use their parking lots for free. Most street parking and other public parking is owned by the city &, again, the feds would be grossly out of bounds making them abide by that rule. At best, they could provide some incentives like they do with highway maintenance, but I must say that I’d be against that too. Such ideas are fun to mention as they cross your mind, but further consideration of them is a waste of time.

The $1 tax on gas…is something this economy needs like a hole in the head. I can’t imagine the benefits on energy development outweighing the strain. How many jobs would that cost? What would that do to the value of the dollar? Again, I drive a tiny car in an area that offers some of the cheapest fuel prices around & I definitely could not afford it. Gas is already taxed too much!

Friedman makes a good point regarding the windfall we’re inadvertently providing oppressive regimes, though I believe he overstates the case. But I agree with Dude that conservation, etc. will strengthen our hand. Still, regardless of what Friedman may think, there are no easy solutions & Bush is not a bonehead for not considering his proposals. For now, I believe the best thing we can do is pass an energy bill, continue to pressure the Middle East and force democracy on them so that they can control their own destiny.