THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 285, August 22, 2004

Maybe we should have simply started speaking Mandarin?

Kerry's “Energy Independence” Plan Smacks of Socialism
by Todd Andrew Barnett
libertarianman@comcast.net

Special to TLE

If anyone hasn't been paying attention to Senator John F. Kerry's latest proposed energy boondoggle, that person ought to do it now. In case that individual hasn't figured it out by now, Kerry seems to think that, with all his wisdom, he can wave a magic wand and—presto!—Americans are better off with him in the White House. He even seems to think that government is better at decision making than freethinking individuals. If that's the case, then no wonder we're all in a heap of trouble.

Just recently the Democratic presidential nominee, appearing before a group of farmers at a campaign rally held in front of a small cornfield at a family farm, preached energy independence." That's the typical mindset of a statist who believes that government should remain in the energy business. Whenever you hear Kerry uttering that term throughout this election season, stay far away from him. If you haven't noticed yet, it translates to mean that government must centrally plan our economic affairs. History has, without a doubt, proven that socialism has faltered all the way. When Kerry and his fellow Democrats will ever grasp this is another story.

Before the farmers, Kerry said that his plan, which is a response to the recent hike in oil prices and the economic and political unrest in the Middle East, was to direct the federal government to develop alternative fuels (which he labels as "America's next great wave of discovery"), downplay foreign oil, slash gasoline prices and oil company profits, and increase fuel efficiency. Then he said, "We're not just going to make this feasible, we want to people to be excited about it—this is the future." We should be "excited" about a plan for socialized energy? When hell freezes over!

Furthermore this plan, while closely resembling President Bush's energy plan, produces some minor differences. As Kerry's campaign website notes, "The Kerry-Edwards energy plan will harness the full force of American ingenuity to create the energy of the future and make America independent of Middle East oil. While taking a series of short-term steps to help families and businesses by bringing down energy prices, their plan will undertake a comprehensive, long-term strategy for energy independence that also creates new, good-paying jobs in the process." So how does he plan to do this? What makes him think his plan is any better than Bush's? How stupid does he think we are?

The problem with Kerry's "plan" (it's actually a coercive boondoggle designed to appeal to his pro-big government, pro-nationalistic special interests and backers) is that it stands no chance of succeeding, even if he wants it to. Such an attempt to socialize the oil industry would mandate a colossal amount of power from the state in order to control and manipulate the private economy. It ought to be clear that Kerry arrogantly thinks that his insidious plan, along with his declaration of complete nationalism, oil-industry ad hominems, and vows to pare down oil prices and hike high-paying jobs will grab our attention the same way the sound of a rattle grabs a baby's attention. One who closely examines this scheme will find that those who are rightfully concerned about the state of our country and understands individual liberty and free enterprise ought to worry.

For instance, Kerry pledges that, if elected to the presidency, he will establish a $20 billion trust fund—known as the Energy Security and Conservation Trust Fundfinanced heavily from existing offshore oil and gas royalty revenues to pool a permanent stream of subsidies to enhance the efficiency of automobiles and push for the creation of alternate energy sources. One doesn't need to be an economist to know that the senator does not understand economics and history. As long as energy scarcity remains a fact, a true free market will enable the correct amount of incentives that encourage personal conservation, improved efficiency, and entrepreneurial measures devised to introduce and promote adequate supplies of more stable and alternative sources of energy. It is a de facto insult to consumers and entrepreneurs when a proposal to have the government control these activities is put on the table. Why? Because it creates the impression that government bureaucrats are better and wiser when it comes to decision-making and that they are far more suited to those decisions than over 295 million people who possess superior and intimate knowledge of their own abilities, needs, and wants in the unhampered marketplace. In a nutshell, it's like saying Santa Clause ought to be revered more than the people.

Didn't Kerry ever find out that, back in the late 1970s, former President Jimmy Carter and his administration's subsidy-ladened synthetic-fuels ventures (which were later eliminated by the late former President Ronald Reagan) did nothing to enhance our economy, our environment, and our "independence" from foreign oil? After all, these machinations were deemed by the Reagan administration as outright failures. Did Kerry ever bother to take a good look at what government-mandated fuel efficiency requirements have done to the automobile industry, the environment, and the safety of drivers on federal and interstate highways? His efforts to conserve gasoline are clearly misguided, especially when he thinks he can try to repeal the laws of supply and demand. When the price of fuel of lowered, people will drive more; thus, hardly any savings of gasoline is created. However, when cars are built lighter and smaller (as ordered by the fuel-efficiency mandates), they end up becoming less safe, resulting in more highway deaths than ever.

One should realize that, despite what Kerry claims, government is not superior to the people. Those who cheer for the state need to understand that government is not the answer; it's the problem. They should take a peek at both its abysmal economic and social records. The evidence speaks for itself.

Bush's plan is not even a tenth better than Kerry's. It calls for moving government to the center while doling out generous globs of subsidies and tax breaks to his Big Oil allies who wield the most political clout and remain unapologetically fixated on the administration's war agenda. Both are obsessed with big spending and big government to the nth degree.

That's not to say that we don't need an energy policy. Actually, we do—except this one calls for the abolition of government influence and control of the energy marketplace. Let's remember that the military occupation in Iraq is nothing short of a subsidy courtesy from the taxpayers to the oil corporatists. If they demand the oil, then they ought to cover the full price for that commodity. If they also want security, then they should cover that too. That means consumers will need to pay for them, but that's the way it should be. If consumers find the price to be too high, then they will have to conserve and entrepreneurs will be persuaded and encouraged to manufacture more efficient goods and look for cheaper sources, whether it's energy, fuel, and otherwise. In order to achieve this, we need to repeal all energy regulations that make it impossible to pursue such endeavors.

But we know that won't be happening anytime soon. Whether or not one likes it, Kerry's "energy independence" plan smacks of socialism. If you know what's best for you, you're urged to stay clear of it. To support a demagogue with a taste for socialism is to destroy what's left of the already-ravaged American tradition of individual liberty, limited government, free enterprise, free trade, federalism and the rule of law.

A new national energy policy would only contain four words: no more big government!



© 2004 by Todd Andrew Barnett. All Rights Reserved. Permission to reprint any portion of or the entire article is hereby granted, provided that the author's name and credentials are included.


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