Sunday, November 02, 2008

Almost Makes Me Miss Jimmy Carter

Last Spring, while driving to Kalispell, I was listening to a radio talk show that featured then Democratic Congressional Candidate Jim Hunt. Hunt was talking about the need to increase the CAFE standards, or the average fuel ratings for automobiles. He said that due to the high price of fuel at that time, he had to park his pickup and buy a Prius, and that his wife was no longer running around in her SUV. The irony seemed to be lost on him that pricing changed his behavior much more effectively than legislation did. Now, as noted below, Obama wants to raise the costs of using coal fired plants to such a level that it would "bankrupt" anyone who sought to produce energy from coal.
He wants to use a cap and trade system to make the production of CO2 so expensive that it would reduce their emissions, and then use the money to promote "green energy" solutions. This scheme seems to be the heir of the fairy tale "carburetor that gets 100 mpg." The only reason that it is not available to the general public is that the oil companies bought the patent and are hiding it from us the consumer, or so the fable goes. This ignores logic and facts, so it is a prime candidate for an urban myth because people want to believe in it. Forget that any such patent would have to be open to the public because you have to research to make sure that there is not a pre-existing patent when you apply for one for your invention. Not to mention other countries that have much laxer intellectual property rights laws would ignore such proscriptions.
It's the same for "green energy." If someone could develop a solar panel that achieved even 60% efficiency, they would be the richest person on earth. How about cold fusion? Again, no radioactive waste, unlimited power, no drawbacks, and if it could exist, it would. But the idea of using tax policy to create technical developments is just stupid.
The power to tax is the power to destroy. Government doesn't create technological breakthroughs. Yes, I know that Darpa is a government agency, but it is not mandated to produce certain scientific breakthroughs. Instead, smart people are allowed wide latitude to follow their interests and to see where they go.
Which brings me to the title of this post. Much as I thought that Jimmy Carter was a micromanager in the finest traditions of Hyman Rickover, even he would have recognized that tax policy does not create technological advancements.
Just goes to show, Obama isn't even as smart as Jimmy Carter. Going to be interesting if he gets elected.

No comments: