It's Turtles All the Way Down


Jacob Weisberg cheers on high gas prices and damns the dumb government oil proposals, then pauses to excogitate:

What none can acknowledge is that higher gas prices in the United States are a good thing. To be sure, oil at $70 a barrel causes hardships for working people and delights some of the world's worst dictators. But cheap gasoline imposes its own costs on society: greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution and its attendant health risks, traffic congestion, and accidents. The ideal way to cope with these externalities would be with higher gas taxes or a carbon tax. But these are politically impossible ideas at the moment—Democrats lost control of Congress in part because they passed a 4-cent-per-gallon tax increase in 1993. The next best solution is the one that has arrived on its own: a high market price for oil, which spurs conservation and substitution.

Isn't that weird the way the market delivered the best result all on its own? I'm not buying it: There must be some Harvard graduate at the Department of Energy who made it all happen on our behalf.