Obama's Alternative (Energy) Reality

Good news, friends!  Barack Obama has a plan to generate energy from his own self-contradictions, thus saving us kabillions of dollars we might otherwise spend on energy or economic growth.

Obama’s energy plan, highlighted proudly on his website and taunted as the answer to accusations that he is all dreams and no details, is essentially the energy equivalent of the old joke about how a socialist regime creates 100% employment – they pay everyone to dig holes, then pay everyone to fill holes.

Nothing gets done, but at least everyone is “doing something.”

Let’s look at specifics:

1)    Obama promises that he will free us from “foreign oil” many times in the document.  When it comes to the national origin of energy, Obama is soundly xenophobic.  Yet Obama’s plan allows no new development of American oil, which is the opposite of “foreign oil,” I believe.  In fact, Obama proposes massively increasing taxes on domestic oil producers to pay for all the mandates and government spending included in his plan.  This will give a huge advantage to foreign oil producers and make us far more dependent on foreign oil.  

Face it:  no matter how fast we pursue every form of alternative energy known, our economy will remain largely oil-based for decades. That oil can be American, or it can be “foreign.”  That’s our choice. Yet the 11 pages of Obama’s plan does not mention the word “drill” a single time.  Obama, like most Democrats, claims that “we can’t drill our way out of this.” But wait a minute — didn’t some bunch of foreigners drill our way into it?  We’re dependent on their foreign oil because they drilled and we didn’t.  If Obama is elected, we will need to thank God for foreign oil.  It’ll be the only oil we have.

2)    Obama proposes to create “millions” of new jobs by making America the technology leader in alternative energy.  This is a response to the logical objection that his plan for billions and billions of dollars in new taxes, mandates, subsidies, and “investments” will harm the economy.  According to Obama, all the wise investment that government will dictate will pay off big when those foreigners that currently sell us “foreign oil” have to buy our cool new solar powered gizmos.  The idea that sending the economy scurrying to meet mandates is a form net growth is highly questionable.  

But this taxes-equal-wealth formula is made even more suspicious in this case, since another point of Obama’s energy plan is that the United States should give away new alternative energy technology in order to help the rest of the world fight Global Warming.  Well, which is it?  Are we going to get rich selling expensive technology to foreigners (who have a lot of oil), or are we going to get less carbon dioxide by giving away that same expensive technology to foreigners (who have a lot a oil)?

3)    Obama proposes to “combat deforestation” in the third world to stop Global Warming.  Yet a major theme of his energy plan is to mandate increased use of biofuels, which cause deforestation.  Even that noted conservative mouthpiece, Oxfam, is now on record as believing that biofuels production in the west forces poor countries to clear more of their own wild land to grow food (the alternative is to die of starvation, you see).  The result is that the lost forest and inefficient agriculture practiced in poor countries cause an increase the amount of carbon dioxide emitted.  You can have biofuels, or you can fight deforestation.  You can’t do both.  Land is the only thing they aren’t making more of — and just because we have decided to turn 25% of our corn crop into a poor motor fuel, does not mean that the people that used to eat that corn are going to get 25% less hungry.

4)    Obama proposes, repeatedly, that he will use “market-based” solutions to re-engineer America’s energy economy. These so-called market-based changes will include the federal government:

a.    Mandating what fuels we use.
b.    Mandating who will make these fuels (it requires locally owned ethanol plants, which I believe were very popular in the South just a generation or two ago).
c.    Mandating what socioeconomic stratum the fuel makers should be selected from (“Barack Obama also believes the transition to a clean energy economy holds special promise for low-income communities and families, which are poised to shoulder a disproportionate share of the burden of global climate change.  To combat this problem, Obama will create an energy-focused youth jobs program to invest in disconnected and disadvantaged youth.”)
d.    Mandating what price these fuels must be subsidized at,
e.    Mandating the designs of the cars that will use these fuels
f.    Mandating that businesses buy a license to exhale,
g.    Mandating building designs, light bulb selection, electricity sources, and about 3400 other things.  

Wow.  That’s a “market-based” approach unequaled in history.  Oh. No. Wait:  it is just like what we saw in history.  The Soviet Union’s Five Year Plans were just as much a market-based approach as Obama’s.

Obama’s government-dictated market-based plan uses the words “require” or “requirement” 21 times, and refers to spending (which he calls “investment”) 42 times.  I’m no Milton Friedman, but I’m not sure that Obama knows what the word “market” means, when it’s not used as part of the name “Whole Foods Market.”

Obama’s plan is fine, except for all the parts where it works against itself and ignores reality.  As long as he can mandate that cars run on pure rhetoric, it should work well.  Otherwise, it will make our country more dependent on foreign oil, increase food prices, increase deforestation, cost trillions, and give the federal government near-total control of all energy production and use in the United States — or as I like to call it “the economy.”  Welcome to Obamanomics, comrades.  It’s a market-based path to more government control.