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June 25, 2008

John McCain…There’s Apparently No Problem Government Can’t Solve

I don’t know what more to say about this guy. It’s getting hard to even work up disappointment and disgust about him anymore. Here are some highlights form his latest energy speech.

In recent days I have set before the American people an energy plan, the Lexington Project Ð named for the town where Americans asserted their independence once before. And let it begin today with this commitment: In a world of hostile and unstable suppliers of oil, this nation will achieve strategic independence by 2025.

...We must do this in a way that gives American businesses new incentives and new rewards to seek, instead of just giving them new taxes to pay and new orders to follow. The most direct way to achieve this is through a system that sets clear limits on all greenhouse gases, while also allowing the sale of rights to excess emissions. And this is the proposal I will submit to the Congress if I am elected president – a cap-and-trade system to change the dynamic of our energy economy.

...Some will say this goal is unattainable within that relatively short span of years – it’s too hard and we need more time. Let me remind them that in the space of half that time – about eight years – this nation conceived and carried out a plan to take three Americans to the Moon and bring them safely home.

… As president, I will turn all the apparatus of government in the direction of energy independence for our country -- authorizing new production, building nuclear plants, perfecting clean coal, improving our electricity grid, and supporting all the new technologies that one day will put the age of fossil fuels behind us. Much will be asked of industry as well, as automakers and others adapt to this great turn toward new sources of power. And a great deal will depend on each one of us, as we learn to make smarter use of energy, and also to draw on the best ideas of both parties, and work together for the common good.

Haven't we heard a lot of this at one point or another for the last 25 to 30 years? And yet nothing ever happens, except for increased subsidies and mandates for technologies that no one would bother with if they weren't getting federal dollars.

The bigger issue is the reality is that energy isn’t simply a technological problem, it’s inexorably intertwined with the organization of the economy. Do we really want “all the apparatus of government” focused in that way? It’s not like anything could go wrong, right?

A cap and trade system, which really has nothing to do with energy independence but rather is a prescription for 'global warming', will simply be an expensive way for the federal government to stick it's hands into nearly every aspect of the economy.

The federal governments role in energy policy should be rather simple…get out of the way. Get rid of prohibitions against drilling off shore and ANWR. Streamline the approval process for nuclear and other types of plants (which in fairness McCain is for). Make it possible to build new refineries (there hasn’t been a new one built in like 30 years) and get rid of boutique fuels and Ethanol subsidies.

Do some of those things and we’d be in a lot better shape. But getting government out of the way isn’t what politicians do. No, they have to insert government into things usually with predicable results. Ethanol wouldn’t be skewing the food and fuel markets if the politicians had restrained their desire to pander to Iowa and other farm states.

The idea the government is going to create a whole new energy system and enforce it is frightening. When we went from wood to coal to oil, did the government mandate it? No. Technology and the marketplace took care of it. Why now do we need the government to find and mandate 'the next thing'?

A conservative would get government out of the way and let the market take care of innovations and all the rest, not saying "Much will be asked of industry". The government doesn't 'ask', it compels and usually in a harmful way.

Alas, no one is running as a conservative this year.

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posted by DrewM. at 01:59 PM

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