December 31, 2008

America Losing Its Mind

Iain Murray isn't sorry to see 2008 end, but his gloomy assessment of our evolving energy lunacy doesn't bode well for 2009 and beyond.

2008 was a year when America lost its mind over energy. As energy prices spiked thanks to (as we now know) artificially inflated demand, politicians mostly discussed ways to make them higher still. No energy idea was too stupid for someone to be praised as a genius or visionary for proposing it. Oil companies fell over themselves to make adverts telling people not to use their main product. Congress told American car makers they weren’t making the cars people wanted to buy, so they were going to make them do it or fine them into closure. Car makers responded by demanding money from the taxpayer. Congress agreed. The invisible hand was thereby nailed to a Congressional table. For one brief, shining moment, it looked like even this Congress would be forced to relax idiotic restrictions on oil exploration, but “Drill, baby, drill” was retired as the oil price collapsed and so we will have to go through the whole thing again on the next oil price spike, when we will be told it is too late to explore and drill (again).

This was the year when every energy-snake-oil salesman realized that “green jobs” was the magic phrase that unlocked taxpayer wallets. A vast army of careers in the compact-light-bulb-changing industry awaits America’s youth. The progression from trainee light-bulb-changer to assistant-light-bulb-changer to certified-light-bulb-changer to lightbulb-changing-supervisor to lightbulb-changing-regional-manager to lightbulb-changing-firm-CEO to lightbulb-changing-Czar will tempt the most ambitious young people (even if most of the actual changing will be done by recent immigrants from Mexico). The 500,000 extra unemployed as a result of the “green jobs” scam will at least be able to pat themselves on the back that, by losing their jobs, they have reduced global emissions infinitesimally.

Posted by dan at December 31, 2008 6:01 PM