Thursday, October 27, 2005

The queen of state-worshippers, part II

Previous: The queen of state-worshippers

Do those worshippers of government believe that free persons will cease to act? Does it follow that if we receive no energy from the law, we shall receive no energy at all? Does it follow that if the law is restricted to the function of protecting the free use of our faculties, we will be unable to use our faculties? Suppose that the law does not force us to follow certain forms of religion, or systems of association, or methods of education, or regulations of labor, or regulations of trade, or plans for charity; does it then follow that we shall eagerly plunge into atheism, hermitary, ignorance, misery, and greed? If we are free, does it follow that we shall no longer recognize the power and goodness of God? Does it follow that we shall then cease to associate with each other, to help each other, to love and succor our unfortunate brothers, to study the secrets of nature, and to strive to improve ourselves to the best of our abilities?

- Frédéric Bastiat, The Law

The word "energy" is ironic, considering the topic of this entry. Hillary Clinton is a true worshipper of government, and chief among those of whom Bastiat warned. This New York Post article listed her latest political maneuvering, which you can be assured is strictly to position herself as the populist candidate in the 2008 presidential race:

October 26, 2005 -- WASHINGTON — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday called for fees on oil-industry profits to fund clean-energy research and ease the fuel "crisis on our hands."

"The country that put a man on the moon can be the country to find new lower-cost and cleaner forms of energy," Clinton told a group of alternative-energy backers.

Clinton proposed a "Strategic Energy Fund" that she said could bring in as much as $20 billion a year in oil-company fees to fund development and give rebates to folks struggling to pay rising heating bills and transportation costs.

She said oil companies should post signs at gas stations reminding motorists to check their tire pressure.
Could Bastiat have been any more right to ask why "worshippers of government believe that free persons will cease to act" when there is no law to compel them? Don't people already have the free exercise of common sense, that they already know to check their tire pressure without being prompted by signs? A vegetarian group has called for laws requiring labels on milk, warnings for those who are lactose intolerant. As the saying goes, you cannot make this stuff up. What will be next, requiring chocolate stores to post warning signs about obesity and diabetes?

But no, no, the federal government never engages in mission creep, right?

I debunked the Democrats' claim of an energy crisis, and the claim that we should cut back on oil imports in favor of domestic sources of alternative entry, in my previous entry "The Democrats' myth of "energy independence'." Note that in no wise do I advocating importing all our oil: I'm merely saying we should import oil when it's cheaper than producing the equivalent energy ourselves.

Why would a rational person spend $2 on an item when a substitute can be had for $1, and just as readily? With all factors like equivalence and ease of obtainability being equal, a rational person would not, but that's precisely what Hillary is asking us to do. By relying more on wind, solar and other "clean" sources of energy, people will spend more money to get the same amount of (or less) energy. Meanwhile, she wants oil companies to be taxed more heavily. When will state-worshippers like Hillary and Paul Krugman, those who believe that businesses don't pay enough taxes, realize that businesses do not pay any taxes? Business' customers pay the taxes, because as anyone who has managed a business can tell you, a business passes its taxes on to its customers.

Hillary is again advocating the redistribution of wealth, just in a different form: taking from those who produce things of great value and giving to those who do not produce as much. If oil companies' "excessive profits" are taxed heavily, that in itself will likely not produce higher prices at the pump. It indirectly may not even cause higher prices, but it will hurt consumers in two ways by preventing their energy costs from going down. The taxes will subsidize scientists' inefficient programs and studies on wind, solar and hydroelectric energy; there's a plain and simple reason we don't already use those sources, and it is because, through the free market, we know they're too expensive compared to oil. And the oil companies will lose billions of dollars that they could have invested in new oil fields, new equipment, and other things that would increase supply and reduce demand. Who can rationally argue that it's good to increase our supply of more expensive energy and reduce our supply of cheaper energy?

Also, oil company employees (at all levels) will not be paid as much as they could have been, and their shareholders will receive dividends less than what they could have been. Whether these people are working class and trying to build up an IRA, or "big oil" executives whose spending habits sustain dozens of jobs, that money is lost to them. The government supposedly will have that money to spend, but there are two problems: taxes are a disincentive to produce, and government spending by nature is inefficient. The latter itself is proved by Hillary's plans to spend it on alternate energy research.

Hillary claims that if we can put a man on the moon, we should spend money on "new lower-cost and cleaner forms of energy." I won't debate the worthiness of space travel, as I have mixed feelings on its scientific value (especially today, when it is nil) versus its cost, but when it comes to federal spending money on alternate sources of energy, Hillary's essentially asking American taxpayers to burn money -- literally. The Department of Energy will spend $380 million in 2005 on "energy efficiency and renewable energy"; it seeks "only" $353 million for 2006. Add to that a few billion dollars annually to subsidize ethanol that's not worth the price, and I prefer more than ever that I keep all my money, so that I can buy what I believe is my best energy value for my money. Unfortunately Hillary, most of Congress, and even President Bush don't feel the same way: one way or another, like the bad energy bill passed earlier this year, they facilitate the federal government doling out our money to energy pork projects.

Now look at this from New York Newsday:
Clinton takes on Cheney

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday blamed Vice President Dick Cheney for bungling U.S. energy policy - and proposed a $20 billion-per-year tax on oil profits to subsidize clean-fuels development.

Tapping growing anger over skyrocketing fuel costs, Clinton (D-N.Y.) criticized oil companies for reaping billions in profits from hurricane-driven price spikes.

She also laid partial responsibility for rising prices on Cheney, the former head of industry giant Halliburton, who chaired a secretive White House energy task force in 2001. "The vice president basically sets energy policy in America," Clinton told a meeting of alternative energy development investors. "And it's not been to the benefit, I think, of our long-term or short-term interests, and I hope that can change."

"Senator Clinton should go ask her husband and his administration why they never passed a comprehensive energy bill," responded Brian Nick, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Still, Clinton's comments came on a day jittery House Republicans huddled to discuss ways to address growing anger on the issue.

The oil and gas industry - which gave four times as much to Republicans as Democrats in 2004 - is expected to post a record $28-billion profit for the third quarter, analysts have said.

The temporary oil profits fee proposed by Clinton would be collected on "unanticipated" windfalls, like the profits resulting from price hikes following the hurricanes, Clinton said.

The money would be used to develop wind turbines, solar power and hybrid cars, and to increase funding for programs to assist low-income Americans with winter heating costs, she said.
So, according to Hillary, our energy crisis is all Cheney's fault. Strange, however, that it was President Bush who signed the 2005 energy bill that Congress sent him -- the energy bill for which Senator Hillary voted "yea." So just who is setting energy policy?

Update: I forgot to add that Cheney's supposedly secret task force was meaningless. Regardless of what secret policies and agreements the moonbats think came from it, it didn't and could never free oil companies from market forces. However, most Americans seem to believe the reverse, and completely erroneously: that oil companies should set "fair" prices, regardless of market conditions. On the contrary, the globally high demand for petroleum and gasoline (I separate them because they have their own supply shocks) means that their producers and arbitrageurs are especially subject to market forces.

And the oil industry gave four times as much to Republicans as it did to Democrats. Big deal -- what's the ratio with lawyers? According to, for the 2004 campaigns the entire energy industry donated over $39 million to Republicans, and just under $13 million to Democrats (so a 3:1 ratio for the entire industry). But, again for the 2004 campaigns, lawyers and law firms donated three times as much to Democrats as they did Republicans, and in much larger numbers: $135 million to $45 million. In fact, this "New York Times on the Web" article from March 2000 talks about law firms donating money in the hope of preventing then-Gov. George W. Bush from being elected, because he was a direct threat to their bread-and-butter.

Let's be fair: both parties get donations from different industries and lobbying groups, so it's hypocritical for a liberal rag to point fingers at just Republicans. However, I'll say again that the problem is not with the special interests. It's that our federal government has assumed so much unconstitutional power that it sustains the special interest groups -- the plunderers perverting the law.

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