I know. Nobody likes to hear “I told you so.” But I’m a candidate for public office, and I’m supposed to toot my horn about such things as, well, being right.
The price of gas is more in the news now than it was four years ago when I wrote this press release (that never made the news, of course):
Price Gouging, or Bad Planning?
It wasn’t so long ago that Democrats wanted European-like prices for gasoline. They reasoned that if gasoline were more expensive, then more people would ride bicycles, walk, or use public transportation and, in general, conserve this energy resource as if it were finite. Expensive gas would promote the development of alternative fuels and energy sources, and probably fuel a new wave of technological breakthroughs. While we may not like the idea of expensive gas, the long-term reasoning is actually pretty sound.
Sadly, Democratic politicians abandoned this reasoning when they lifted gasoline taxes before an election (the late Governor O’Bannon in 2000), suggested that we tap into our Strategic Oil Reserves (several Democrats on state and federal levels), or (as Rep. Julia Carson had done this past June) call for an investigation of the oil industry at the first hint of rising gasoline prices.
Ms. Carson has voted for federal price controls, though this policy has proven disastrous every time, and in every country, and every market that it has been tried. Ironically, she’s also voted against fuel alternative incentives and raising CAFE standards, two common liberal rallying points.
Ms. Carson isn’t a policy wonk, to be sure. But her ideas on energy consumption are inconsistent, illogical and counterproductive. Without better representation in this key policy area, and soon, our future looks grim.
There hasn’t been a new oil refinery built in the USA since 1976. So instead of doing the math of supply and demand with our own resources, we turned to global markets that have their own agenda in global politics. This has made us dependent upon foreign intervention as an energy policy, and raises the possibility that third-world nations may soon pass us in terms of energy efficiency and robust delivery/point of use generation…and this could mean even further erosion of USA industry and technological prowess.
We’ve built our cities for cars and cheap gas; so we have seas of parking lots and miles and miles of ugly boxes we call buildings. Such unsightly, inefficient building lowers our quality of life, steals our leisure time, and makes us a nation of red-faced road-ragers. Oh, and of course, like most federal policies of the last forty years, this lack of clear-sighted policy has cost us tens of thousands of jobs.
We must do better. We’re past-due for some forward-thinking in energy and transportation policy, and I will make free-market investment, innovation and infrastructure development a high priority on day one.