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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tough Love or Fascist

Bill O'Reilly is my favorite commentator and I agree with him much more often than I don't, however in this week's column he offers solutions to the growing crisis over gas prices that are downright fascist. Now, first Bill sets it up with things I agree with.

For decades, no President or Congress would confront that fact that corrupt third-world countries control most of the world's oil supply and those nations are definitely not looking out for us.


Presidents Reagan, Bush the Elder, Clinton and Bush the Younger, all did little. There was no big push to conserve oil or to find another way to fuel the nation.


So now we're paying for their sins and, truth be told, some of our own as well. American liberals still don't want to drill in the Arctic Circle, still don't want more nuclear power (something that saves France and Sweden), and still oppose expanding refining capacity.

Conservatives still won't support government-mandated vehicle fuel efficiency, tighter controls on commodity speculators, and stricter oversight on American oil companies that are exploiting world tension.

Now, I absolutely agree that our dependence on oil is a result of the total lack of leadership on all parts of the government from both parties. While, I believe that O'Reilly understands the problem, his solutions are downright fascist.

All American made vehicles must get 30MPG by 2010 or pay a major tax surcharge to the government.

Oil and commodity speculators must put up 50% of their transactions in cash. That would weed out some of the gamblers who are manipulating the market.

American oil companies must supply the federal government with a written explanation every time they raise the price of gas and oil.

Americans would be asked to cut back at least 10% on leisure driving and not to buy gas at all on Mondays.

I think the gas crisis is a serious issue as well, and I am all for fast track solutions to solving it. On the other hand, I believe there are solutions that don't involve obscene government oversight, mandates, and forced conservation.

For instance, rather than mandating 30MPG or face a surcharge, why don't we instead provide an immediate tax break to any car that gets more than 30MPG. That will have an immediate effect and it will be much more productive than a new tax. Why give a new tax solution, when we can just as easily give a tax break solution?

I don't think that O'Reilly understands the forces he is dealing with when he proclaims that we raise the margin on oil futures to 50%. It may weed out the gamblers, but what it will do is dry up the market entirely. You can't just raise the margin willy nilly without unintended consequences. The bottom line is that the only way to drop oil prices in the short term is to drill in all the places the environmentalists refuse to allow us to.

I am no fan of the oil companies. In fact, I don't believe they play in any market, but rather they operate as a cartel in an oligopoly. We have the Sherman Anti Trust Act to deal with those folks that have stopped their industry from being a market. Under the right circumstances, I am in favor of breaking the oil companies up. On the other hand, forcing companies to check with the government before they set their prices is something totalitarian governments do. We don't live in such a country, and O'Reilly is simply out of his mind with this idea.

Finally, I am all for a national push to drive less. If O'Reilly wants to buy ad time for a public service announcement that encourages folks to drive less, I will support it. I will download onto Youtube and even embed it in my blog. On the other hand, if O'Reilly is saying that we should force folks to drive less, well, then again, he forgets what country we live in.

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