Death by Obamanomics?
by Irwin M. Stelzer in The Weekly Standard
Death by a thousand cuts. Or in the case of the efficiency of the U.S. economy, by at least four: energy policy, health care policy, trade union resurgence, and fiscal madness.
Start with energy. The world is awash in it. The wind blows and the sun shines, at least some times and somewhere. Oil and gas wells gush, and substantial oil- and gas-rich areas have never even been explored. Coal abounds. Nuclear power can be had at a cost. So why has Barack Obama made energy policy one of his three top priorities — education and health care are the other two — in a country in which inexpensive energy has produced the world’s most productive agriculture, a population capable of navigating America’s huge spaces in air-conditioned comfort, and permitted the substitution of energy-plus-brain-power for back-breaking labor?
One problem is that oil is largely in the hands of very bad actors. Still another is that almost all sources of energy have significant impacts on the environment: solar panels consume acres of space; wind machines are considered eye sores by those who can spot them; oil, natural gas and coal emit CO2, responsible for claims that the globe is warming; nuclear power generates long-lived and dangerous waste.
Some of these problems are soluble, although not without cost. Domestic producers of natural gas tout their product as a substitute for petrol in trucks, busses and other vehicles. Progress is apparently being made in developing cars and trucks that run on at least partly on batteries. The efficiency of vehicles is being increased, albeit in response to inefficient government edicts rather than to more efficient price signals. Never mind that the infrastructure for these various gasoline substitutes has not been developed, and that the cost of these technologies exceeds that of the gasoline-fuelled internal combustion engine by a good margin. They must be listed in the possible column. That’s the good news.
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