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An energy fairyland

by: Eric B.

Sat Apr 14, 2012 at 14:06:02 PM EDT


I got into a really strange Facebook debate a couple of days before Easter with someone on the topic of energy. The person I was conversing with insisted that the oil industry doesn't receive any government subsidies to do business. And, while pointing out (repeatedly) how heavily subsidized the oil industry really is (more in a minute), I thought to myself, "What kind of person actually believes this?" The answer: The Facebook guy, and Dan Benishek.

Congressman Dan Benishek (MI-01) told constituents this week that “there are no government subsidies for oil” despite consistently protecting Big Oil subsidies while voting to end Medicare in Washington. This is not the first time Congressman Dan Benishek defended his Big Oil benefactors who have bankrolled his campaign by the thousands. Congressman Benishek already claimed that Big Oil companies “pay their fair share” and opposed closing oil tax loopholes even as Big Oil stands to make record profits yet again.

That's a Democratic Party press release, but the video is genuine. Dan Benishek told constituents that the oil industry isn't at all subsidized, something that is patently untrue. Not only are there sweetheart tax deals and a taxpayer subsidy of oil industry royalty payments to foreign governments, but there are a host of soft subsidies that help artificially keep the price of petroleum depressed. Those would include things like the externalization of associated health care and environmental degradation to the public at large (oil companies don't pay a dime for hospital costs on Ozone days, which directly result from the use of their product), and things like maintaining open shipping lanes. Like when the USS Stark was hit by an Iraqi Exocet missile in 1987 and 37 U.S. sailors were killed? It was in support of operations intended to make sure that oil flows freely from the Middle East to the United States.

Now, subsidies are not automatically a bad thing. There is no major source of energy that has ever not received some form of government support, because energy is so important to developing an economy. In fact, a subsidy represents the awareness of national purpose. For instance, last century after we realized what fossil fuels meant for the growth of American prosperity, the federal government took steps to make sure that American oil companies had a near-monopoly on access to Middle Eastern oil.

Again, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. What you can't argue, however, is that we pursued fossil fuel energy through purely market forces, which is what a lot of conservatives appear to believe.

President Carter’s speech sounds familiar because it is based on the same flawed assumptions that underlie many current politicians’ belief that wise and enlightened central planners in Washington can manage the countless and infinitely complex transactions and calculations that comprise a $14 trillion dollar national economy.

I have no idea what planet these people believe they live on, but it's certainly not any Planet Earth on which there has ever been a United States of America. The idea that we either have a fully centrally planned economy or one that is entirely left up to market forces is a naive, even child-like one, but it's currently the most fashionable political philosophy.

Eric B. :: An energy fairyland
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Dapper Dan (0.00 / 0)
...actually might have believed what he said. He doesn't come across as all that bright. Dead serious. Yeah, he's a doctor...how on earth that happened is a giant-ass mystery.  

Dapper Dan (0.00 / 0)
Danny Boy continues to shovel manure on those in the 110th who voted him in back in 2010. Those who saw through his manure will probably have little or no choice but to suffer another two years of his blatantly stupid lies come November. But then they always say ignorance is bliss and he and his tea bag friends, et al, are always smiling.

Typical Right-Wing View of Reality (4.00 / 1)
The idea that we either have a fully centrally planned economy or one that is entirely left up to market forces is a naive, even child-like one, but it's currently the most fashionable political philosophy.

With the Right Wingers everything is either black or white.  They're PROUD of it.  They think it's what gives them their strength.



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