Carter to Obama: Same Old Story on Energy Policy
The Center for Vision and Values | May 3, 2012
By Jarrett Skorup
As spring bloomed, the president addressed the nation on energy. The president told us, â€œWithout our planning for the future, it will get worse â€¦ The oil and natural gas that we rely on for 75 percent of our energy is simply running out.â€
Unless profound changes are made in the next decade, the president warned, the world will demand more oil than it can produce. He called for â€œstrict conservationâ€ and switching to â€œpermanent renewable energy sources like solar power.â€ Because such sources promise future energy independenceâ€”or at least according to the presidentâ€”his administration would spendÂ billions of taxpayer dollarsÂ on wind, solar, and biodiesel, plus offer massive â€œclean energyâ€ subsidies.
No, the president is not Barack Obama, and the speech was not delivered in 2012. It was President Jimmy Carter,Â speakingÂ on April 18, 1977.
Since that time, American oil and natural gas production has skyrocketed. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that natural gas consumptionÂ has doubled since 1980, production is atÂ an all-time high, imports are at aÂ 20-year lowÂ and heating expenses areÂ the lowest in a decade. Meanwhile, the latest recessionÂ barely affected North Dakota, a state rich in oil and natural gas.
President Carterâ€™s speech sounds familiar because it is based on the same flawed assumptions that underlie many current politiciansâ€™ 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.
These politicians hold on to these flawed beliefs despite being regularly embarrassed by them. For example, aÂ recent Capitol Confidential article and videoÂ showed President Obama and two senators from Michigan praising a heavily subsidized â€œgreen energyâ€ battery manufacturer that is now under severe financial stress and has had its federal money pulled. Another Capitol Confidential piece reportedÂ a litanyÂ of similar embarrassments on a YouTube channel created by the Michigan Economic Development Corp.
Economist F.A. Harper once wrote, â€œIf the planner could plan discovery for others, he probably would have made that discovery himself in the first place. If he is more able in this respect than the others, he is wasting his time not to do it himself; if he is less able, he can hardly plan it for others who are more able than he is.â€
Itâ€™s much easier for politicians to make plans with other peoplesâ€™ money. It would show real leadership for government to actually do less.
â€” Jarrett Skorup is a 2009 graduate of Grove City College and former student fellow at The Center for Vision & Values. He is the research associate for online engagement for Michigan Capitol Confidential at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a research and educational institute headquartered in Midland, Mich. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the Centers are properly cited. Mr. Skorup can be reached at [email protected]
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