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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Two Divergent Paths to Energy Independence

There is actually a third. That is for the government to do nothing. I doubt anyone would accept that and so we have two divergent paths toward energy independence. Gasoline prices are no longer merely an economic issue, but rather they are an issue of national security. Something must be done, and something will be done. The only question remains is what will be done.

The first path is the path of government regulations, mandates, and bureaucracy. For instance, the government can mandate conservation. We could have new regulations that mandate that the speed limit be reduced to 50 MPH nationally.

What about alternative energy sources? The government can mandate that all automobiles could get 30MPG or face a stiff tax. They could mandate that a minimum percentage of cars be of alternative fuels. They could increase that percentage until cars that run on oil are totally phased out. In fact, that is essentially the manner in which Brazil was able to achieve energy independence. Heck, in the extreme, the government could nationalize the oil industry entirely.

People are frustrated and they are scared. They want relief and they want the government to help. They are vulnerable to all sorts of big government policies. That's how we got Social Security. This is not merely a question of energy independence, but a question of how our country will move forward. As we struggle with $4/gallon gas prices, the citizenry is ripe to follow the lead of more government, more regulation, and more mandates.

They will follow that path unless an alternative path is clearly laid. A while back I proposed a plan to would create energy independence through a series of tax cuts. I believe the best way toward energy independence is achieved like everything, through the free market. I believe that the best way toward energy independence is for the government to get as far away from it as possible. Unfortunately, I don't hear any conservatives proposing any free market proposals. Without free market proposals, there will be big government proposals. There is no third option. The public is fed up, and they demand action. If Conservatives don't show them the free market way toward energy independence, liberals will show them the way toward big government's path toward energy independence. I believe the stakes couldn't be higher.

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