Who's Got an Energy Gimmick Now?

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Presumed Democratic Party presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama correctly derided his Republican rival Sen. John McCain for proposing a federal gasoline tax moratorium:

…we're arguing over a gimmick that would save you half a tank of gas over the course of the entire summer so that everyone in Washington can pat themselves on the back and say that they did something.

That was then: this is now.

Yesterday, the "we-are-the-ones-we've-been-waiting-for.-We-are-the-change-that-we-seek" candidate showed that he could be just as gimmicky as any other presidential aspirant. Obama proposed releasing 70 million barrels of crude from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as a way to drive down high gas prices. Conservative commentator Mark Impomeni does a few quick calculations and finds that Obama's gimmick would yield about two-fifths of a tank of gas per driver. The change-we-can-believe-in apparently believes that 40 percent of a tank of gas is less gimmicky than 50 percent.

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  1. The change-we-can-believe-in apparently believes that 40 percent of a tank of gas is less gimmicky than 50 percent.

    20% less gimmicky. 100% fat free.

  2. Not to overly defend this, but there is a significant difference; the feds make money off of the sale of the released petroleum, whereas they would lose money with the gas tax moratorium.

  3. Occam’s toothbrush: The Feds might make money–depends on what the price is when (if?) they replace the 70 million barrels.

  4. No mention of the ‘save more gas than all of the undeveloped USA reserves – through tune-ups and tire inflation’?

    Yes, both of those are important, but it ain’t no ANWR size savings.

  5. Why, oh why, do these idiots dance around the solution that seems to have actual resonance with the public, which is expanding domestic energy production/drilling? I realize that the Republicans are finally hammering on this but Pelosi turned the lights off on them; but you’d think Obama could see which way the wind is blowing? He’s already pissed off people with FISA and centrist moves, why not this one? It’s a pretty sure vote-getter.

  6. but you’d think Obama could see which way the wind is blowing?

    Don’t worry, he will flip on this soon, just like he did on the strat. reserve. You know, just for the election, not in reality.

  7. Ummm, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve was created to mitigate a sudden cutoff in overseas oil supplies. It was not created to massage consumer prices whenever some economically ignorant president wants to dip into it to ease our pain at the pump.

    Drawing on the SPR is pandering at best, and utterly irresponsible when you think for more than ten seconds on the dumbass idea.

    Bob Barr is looking better every day.

  8. Ron,

    I think that Occam’s toothbrush was referring to the tax revenue.

    Both plans will temporarily drive the price down, reducing market pressures on demand. By preempting the high price that would have driven down demand, the price will be driven right back up in very short order. Both plans are not only gimmicky, they are both doomed to fail in their phoney baloney goals. Harrumph.

  9. What exactly are ANWR sized savings?

  10. The change-we-can-believe-in apparently believes that 40 percent of a tank of gas is less gimmicky than 50 percent.

    Obama? Gimmick? Say it aint’ so joe!

    Occam’s toothbrush: The Feds might make money–depends on what the price is when (if?) they replace the 70 million barrels.

    Will have to check, but I thought his gimmick was to allow oil companies to take out easily refined fuel, and dump back stuff that costs more to refine, banking on some future technology that won’t happen when people have easily refined crude. Brilliant!

    (Returning from checking) Ref from the WSJ says:

    Under Sen. Obama’s plan, the president would use light crude from the reserve and replenish it later with heavy crude “more suitable to our long-term needs,” said Obama policy adviser Heather Zichal.

    Don’t know if you can see it as a non subscriber, but hopefully it’s here.

    Bob Barr is looking better every day.

    Aw, now, don’t discount “Change”, just keep saying it to yourself…”Change”…don’t think…”Change”….pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, I am the great and powerful…

  11. What exactly are ANWR sized savings?

    Ginormous, as big as the frontier, almost as big as the whole out-of-doors. It is huge, man, huge!

  12. As I have said many times before, whn you guys start driving ‘hybrids’ like me, then I will take you seriously 😉

  13. How much is ginormous?

  14. Come on guys, we don’t need more oil, we just need to inflate our tires with hot air from Obama’s soaring rhetoric!

  15. Ginormous, as big as the frontier, almost as big as the whole out-of-doors. It is huge, man, huge!

    But, is it as big as this, from the same article:

    Sen. Obama also proposed giving $4 billion in loans and tax credits to U.S. auto makers so they can retool their factories to make hybrid vehicles and a $7,000 tax credit to consumers who purchase the vehicles.

  16. How much is ginormous?

    ANWR sized.

    (Sorry, someone had to.)

  17. Yes, both of those are important, but it ain’t no ANWR size savings.

    Mean ANWR estimate is 780,000 bpd. The estimates for offshore drilling range from 250k-1M bpd. So probably about 1.25M bpd total.

    Total US oil usage is 20.7M bpd, half of which is gasoline. Inflation savings is up to 3.3%. So even if fully half of America is driving on underinflated rhetoric tires, he’s off by nearly an order of magnitude at 165K bpd saved.

  18. …we’re arguing over a gimmick that would save you half a tank of gas over the course of the entire summer so that everyone in Washington can pat themselves on the back and say that they did something.

    🙁
    I liked that Obama better

  19. http://www.americablog.com/2008/06/gop-state-convention-in-texas-if-obama.html

    GOP giving out racist buttons:Whitehouse for white people!

    OH and, the gas tax provides for our roads. We need it. The reserve is to be used in just such a case.

  20. Josh, if you read the story, the GOP wasn’t handing them out, a vendor was selling them.

    Meanwhile, the Dems fervently embrace all sorts of racist programs to favor some minorities over others.

  21. Obama is not flip flopping. He’s coming up with a smart energy policy unlike the one Bush and co enacted that gave billions of dollars to their friends in the oil industry. That’s what’s gotten us to this point, and now the greedy oil companies are screwing us all. Well thank goodness because now maybe you people will wake up and realize that we need to invest in new technologies, which means also investing in our education system, and take our money back from the oil companies and their windfall profits.

  22. Grimace is a Democrat?

  23. and now the greedy oil companies are screwing us all.

    If you’re referring to the state-owned oil companies that engage in the open conspiracy to fix oil prices known as OPEC, I couldn’t agree more.

  24. I think Republicans and Democrats can come together on one issue. We should have the primaries again. Mistakes were made.

  25. Well thank goodness because now maybe you people will wake up and realize that we need to invest in new technologies, which means also investing in our education system, and take our money back from the oil companies and their windfall profits.

    Yep, like nuclear power, where Obama is visiting today. Wait a minute! That was McCain, never mind.

  26. Yep, like nuclear power, where Obama is visiting today. Wait a minute! That was McCain, never mind.

    LOLZ!!!
    You come up with something like this and can’t even close your tags.
    Obama has said time after time that we need to invest in solar and wind energy as well as other forms. If we put even the slightest amount of the money into that kind of research that we’ve given to the oil execs we’d be energy independent within the next few years.

  27. Bailey once again misses the point about why these gimmicks are bad. It’s not mainly because they barely mitigate the pains of gas prices as he implies, but rather because they have severe side-effects. The gas tax holiday would leave our roads in ruins and would be counterproductive to curbing carbon pollution. With the SPR and Obama’s plan, we would leave ourselves more vulnerable to a supply shock. Currently the futures price of oil has been for the longest of time under the spot price, sothere’s no incentive for oil companies to horde oil… but as a form of “social insurance,” per se, somebody should.

    IMO part of the problem is that the median IQ is 100.

  28. According to Wiki, the high end of ANWR production in 2028 is 1.45 million barrels per day. In addition, this Time article places potential daily production from offshore drilling by 2030 at 200,000 bbl. per day. We apparently currently use we use about 20 million bbl. per day. Obama may not be right, but he’s not that far wrong, either. Yeah, inflating the tires may be comparable to a significant portion of domestic oil drilling.

  29. So, we need to give billions in government funds to car companies because they are not evil but Big Oil is?

    And just allowing Big Oil to purchase leases and pay by the barrel of production is some sort of giveaway?

    This Newspeak is really getting out of control.

  30. Not that I’m really against the drilling in ANWR or offshore, btw.

    The wiki article says Alaskans get annual dividends from oil leases. Where can I get mine, given that Alaska is part of the US?

  31. Yeah, inflating the tires may be comparable to a significant portion of domestic oil drilling.

    Even more comparable when you factor in that there’s no way to guarantee that all of that domestic oil stays domestic. Oil drilled off the coast of Florida or in ANWR is just as likely to end up in Europe or Asia, no?

  32. If we put even the slightest amount of the money into that kind of research that we’ve given to the oil execs we’d be energy independent within the next few years.

    I don’t know if you intended to be ironic, but those oil execs are probably investing as much or more in alternative sources of energy as our government. Big energy companies aren’t going to give up their money making machines (the market for energy) so easily.

  33. DR,

    The gas tax holiday would leave our roads illegal mass transit systems in ruins and would be counterproductive to curbing carbon pollution.

    Fixed, but that does not mean that I agree with anything else in your comment.

  34. Obama supports subisidies for corn ethanol, and the sugar tarriff that makes sugar cane ethanol a non option. Both are idiotic enough to make me declare his whole energy plan idiotic.

  35. Pottsy,

    Even more comparable when you factor in that there’s no way to guarantee that all of that domestic oil stays domestic. Oil drilled off the coast of Florida or in ANWR is just as likely to end up in Europe or Asia, no?

    Yea, that is one of those sticky things when dealing with a fungible commodity that has an international market.

    Since we are talking about an international market, perhaps some folks should brush up on it?

  36. Obama has said time after time that we need to invest in solar and wind energy as well as other forms.

    I’m thinking he needs to go to Ted K and convince him to put in the wind farm off AssaChewShits before he starts taking too much credit for wind energy.

    The wiki article says Alaskans get annual dividends from oil leases. Where can I get mine, given that Alaska is part of the US?

    You didn’t know this? It’s been going on for a fairly long time.

  37. We need ti drill everywhere and take our tax money out of expensive mass trabsit schemes and build new highways. That’s where our tax money belongs.

    Further, why can’t we have our gasoline subsidi2d? The chinese do it ti griw their economy, why not us?

  38. “I think Republicans and Democrats can come together on one issue. We should have the primaries again. Mistakes were made.”

    True, but I am not sure a Hillary versus Huckabee campaign would be any better.

    I honestly can’t figure out is Energized Democrat a troll or serious?

    What is funny about the whole thing is that the same Democrats who are screaming about “oil profits” would have gladly put the price of gas at $4 a gallon ten years ago through taxes. I guess the positive effects of high gas prices, like increased efficiency and more mass transit use, don’t count if it is the market rather than the government that is doing it.

  39. shecky,

    That Time piece is utter BS.

    But who’s really out of touch? The Bush administration estimates that expanded offshore drilling could increase oil production by 200,000 barrels per day by 2030. We use about 20 million barrels per day, so that would meet about 1% of our demand two decades from now. Meanwhile, efficiency experts say that keeping tires inflated can improve gas mileage by 3%, and regular maintenance can add another 4%. Many drivers already follow their advice, but if everyone else did, we could reduce demand several percentage points immediately. In other words: Obama is right.

    Catch all the shifting goalposts, flawed assumptions, and bad math there? “All the oil we could get from drilling” becomes “the increase from expanded offshore drilling,” and even then uses a number that seems out of step with published estimates of 250,000 to 1 million bpd. Then we casually more than double the tire-inflation savings by tossing in “maintenance.” Then we throw out quantitative analysis altogether by using the impossibly vague “many drivers.” Finally, we ball up our morass of bad data into a misleading conclusion, and for emphasis we state explicitly the one assumption we always regarded as unassailable: Obama must be right.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/26/business/26offshore.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

  40. Thanks; my anarchometer reports a 10% increase from that change alone.

  41. ^Was directed at Montag, btw

  42. I meant to type “subsidized”

  43. there’s no way to guarantee that all of that domestic oil stays domestic. Oil drilled off the coast of Florida or in ANWR is just as likely to end up in Europe or Asia, no?

    You fail Econ 101.

  44. John,

    LOL You clearly didn’t read the email addies.

  45. I think Republicans and Democrats can come together on one issue.

    But don’t you know? The sheer stupidity of an idea correlates almost perfectly with how many major political parties agree with it.

  46. In case that guy was serious, you don’t subsidize gas, because it carries many negative externalities and the money would likely come from an increase in the income tax. So you’d be discouraging work (work is good for the economy) to encourage more use of oil (bad for the environment and roads).

  47. Obama supports subisidies for corn ethanol, and the sugar tarriff that makes sugar cane ethanol a non option. Both are idiotic enough to make me declare his whole energy plan idiotic.

    Sadly, McCain isn’t a lot better.

  48. What is funny about the whole thing is that the same Democrats who are screaming about “oil profits” would have gladly put the price of gas at $4 a gallon ten years ago through taxes. I guess the positive effects of high gas prices, like increased efficiency and more mass transit use, don’t count if it is the market rather than the government that is doing it.

    John –
    The major difference here is that if we had put gas at $4 a gallon with taxes then we could have used all of the tax revenue to fund research for other forms of energy and we wouldn’t be as reliant on oil for everything. Look at Europe. They all have great mass transit systems and people there are so much more consious of conserving energy, and they have high gas taxes. The problem is that americans rely on the “free market” to do our pricing and then complain when the corporations take advantage of the free market and use their monopoly to gain record profits while families are getting kicked out of their homes!

  49. there’s no way to guarantee that all of that domestic oil stays domestic. Oil drilled off the coast of Florida or in ANWR is just as likely to end up in Europe or Asia, no?

    You fail Econ 101.

    I got a 4 on my micro AP and a 5 on my macro AP and his logic sounded reasonable. I must be missing something. ?_o

  50. No I didn’t Tall Dave. But you know, I think you could probably post that stuff up over at TNR or Kos and get a lot of kudos. If I had the time, I would sign up as a KOS diarist and see how crazy I had to get before they figured out I was a mole and kicked me out.

  51. Why subsidize gas when we could just lower all of the taxes on it? Oh yea, that newspeak problem again . . .

  52. A true libertarian would demand the sale of ALL the petroleum in the strategic reserve.

    The state can buy and hold oil for use by its military if it wishes, and there’s no libertarian issue. But the stated purpose of the strategic reserve is future market manipulation. Aren’t we supposed to be against that?

    Here we have the state unabashedly stating that it’s buying oil to improve its ability to intervene in the market in the future, and we have a libertarian magazine complaining about a candidate who wants to do that less than we currently do. What’s wrong with that?

    It’s a pander, that’s for sure. But beyond that, what’s wrong with it?

  53. DR- I think the point was that even if some of the ANWR oil ended up being used by other countries, its still an increase in worldwide supply, which would bring prices down somewhat.

  54. The Chinese keep their gas cheap through subsidies and they have a booming economy. Why should we waste money on crappy mass transit when we could use that same money to lower gas to two dollars a gallon?

  55. John –
    It’s too easy to mock some of these people. Then again, it’s really easy to mock a lot of us too, but the more informed and calm and the less predictable you are in your statements, the harder it is to imitate.

  56. Sen. Obama also proposed giving $4 billion in loans and tax credits to U.S. auto makers so they can retool their factories
    waste it.

  57. Yeah, inflating the tires may be comparable to a significant portion of domestic oil drilling.

    There’s a tradeoff in degredation of our transportation infrastructure. See here for an interesting discussion of ESALs and LEF’s, the last part is kind of neat in describing how much more damage is done by trucks.

    However, the top part deals with tire pressures, and contact area. Basically, if you increase pressure, you decrease contact area, thus improving fuel efficiency but putting more stress on the pavement structure. There is no free lunch, but this one comes out of the collective pocketbook rather than the individual, which seems where Obama lives.

  58. Further, why can’t we have our gasoline subsidi2d? The chinese do it ti griw their economy, why not us?

    I chuckled when I read this.

    First of all, subsidization of any market goods that don’t provide positive externalities is a really retarded idea. This is why virtually all economists think farm subsidies are a terrible idea. (Subtract “virtually” from that last sentence if you don’t consider those partisan freaks at the EPI real economists.) Furthermore, burning oil has negative externalities. To achieve the social optimum, gasoline must be taxed.

  59. Is there anyplace where someone has put together a chart or table showing the observed relationship between world oil price and the injection of additional supply into the system? How many extra barrels per day would need to be available to lower the price of a barrel by 5%, 10%, etc.? More interesting might be a similar chart/table showing the relationship between increase in oil supply and the price of a gallon of gasoline.

    I am, of course, wondering about the extent to which increases in supply (such as dribblings from the strategic reserve) will ultimately affect the price at the pump. Previous history seems to suggest that even small increases (or the mere threat of them!) can have a big effect; if so, releasing strategic reserve oil may be the better play than temporarily dropping the gas tax.

  60. Here we have the state unabashedly stating that it’s buying oil to improve its ability to intervene in the market in the future, and we have a libertarian magazine complaining about a candidate who wants to do that less than we currently do.

    Uh, no. He wants to interfere now and then rebuild the reserves so that he can also interfere in the future. He certainly is not doing this is in order to interfere less.

  61. DR- I think the point was that even if some of the ANWR oil ended up being used by other countries, its still an increase in worldwide supply, which would bring prices down somewhat.

    Right, but oh so insignificantly at that point.

  62. We have an odd problem with the offshore reserves that do not have islands on top of them. At least, by my most recent understanding, I think we do.

    Only the government can own our continental shelf. If that is the case, it does make sense to me to lease drilling rights to it.

    However, all of those illegal “national parks” outside of DC do need to be sold off, with the proceeds going to the descendants of the people it was taken from, if applicable.

  63. Additionally, to the fed comment below, the market is driven right now by speculators. Pulling oil out of the reserve sends a message that as part of a larger program, the gov is willing to do what it takes to quell issues. It’s a difference of perception and reality. No gas tax means no money into the gov which means more cuts for our infrastructure. The effort was made to stop the speculation but it was not allowed to come to a vote…

  64. The Chinese keep their gas cheap through subsidies and they have a booming economy. Why should we waste money on crappy mass transit when we could use that same money to lower gas to two dollars a gallon?

    Please don’t vote.

  65. Daniel, don’t tell me you believe in that lefty myth of global warming?

  66. Has anyone rigorously crunched the numbers to decide the true increase in the price of oil and the price of gasoline since, say, 1950, taking inflation into account? Is the larger amount of the increase (if any) due to inflation or due to other factors? I ask, because the hard money guys like to say that the last-minted silver dime can buy about as much gas today as it could back in the 1960s, indicating that most of what we perceive as the increase in the price of oil/gas can be laid at the feet of inflation or adjustments to it, and I’m curious to learn if other knowledgeable people agree, or even better, have done the homework to substantiate or disprove that assertion.

  67. mouse,

    The effort was made to stop the speculation but it was not allowed to come to a vote…

    Was this some nonsensical UN resolution? Just asking because, you know, the USA is not the only place where oil futures are traded. Any “effort” by the USAian Congress to “stop speculation” pretty much drives those financial instruments to trading floors in other countries.

  68. The issue of countries like Iran and China subsidizing gas goes to show what hypocrites the left is on this issue. Subsidizing gasoline is terrible for the environement. It keeps people from becoming more energy efficient and prevents the market from working in positive ways. Yet, no one in the green movement ever says a word about this.

  69. Daniel, don’t tell me you believe in that lefty myth of global warming?

    Drill-man, please don’t tell me you don’t believe in the scientific consensus and data that strongly suggests global warming?

    And even if global warming isn’t happening (it is; data clearly shows this), or even if global warming isn’t being caused by humans (it probably is; correlation strongly suggests this), or even if we can’t really stop global warming by cutting back our oil consumption, oil still causes air pollution, and we need to pay for public roads somehow.

  70. congress should stop their partisan bickering and do something to provide some relief to the american public. there are so many problems that congress has done nothing to address because they can’t agree on anything for political reasons. they should put their careers aside and do their jobs by creating programs and oversight agencies that can tackle the major problems our country is facing.

  71. TallDave, the adjustments made via the NYT article are more in your favor, but in the end, aren’t particularly impressive. Tire inflation still looks like a winner, demanding almost no effort.

    Regarding offshore drilling, it will be interesting to see what price NIMBYism has. And does anybody really worry about areas being off limits to drilling forever? It will happen…
    when the price is right.

  72. “Daniel, don’t tell me you believe in that lefty myth of global warming?”

    Even if global warming doesn’t exist, the lower the price of oil, the more drivers there are. That causes extra damage to the roads, and more congestion both of which are bad. Also, since roads are a positive externality, we should be subsidizing them, which is harder to do when there is no gas tax.
    BTW- A right winger yelling for subsidies- the #1 reason I no longer call myself a Republican.

  73. Here we have the state unabashedly stating that it’s buying oil to improve its ability to intervene in the market in the future, and we have a libertarian magazine complaining about a candidate who wants to do that less than we currently do. What’s wrong with that?

    The SPR is no different than having a stockpile of food. It’s purpose isn’t to interfere with the market whenever a politician wishes; the crude is set to be released when a massive supply disruption occurs…like if Saudi Arabia was nuked or something.

    It’s only (at most*) a four-month amount, and even that’s with rationing it. It’s about as low as it gets on the “things libertarians should get riled up about”…on the other hand, a major politician pumping this as some kind of big deal while his party plays grab-ass with the Capitol Hill electricity is damn-near a scandal.

    The Ds are to energy policy what a faith-healer is to a cancer patient: none of the “mainstream” cures work…we just gotta BELIEVE and the crystals and lotions wind and solar markets will SAVE US ALL.

  74. Reinmoose – that’s some Class A stereotyping of bipartisan hackery. You almost had me.

  75. Total US oil usage is 20.7M bpd, half of which is gasoline. Inflation savings is up to 3.3%. So even if fully half of America is driving on underinflated rhetoric tires, he’s off by nearly an order of magnitude at 165K bpd saved.

    And if oil weren’t sold on a world market and the entirity of that number were therefore likely to remain in the US, that would be correct. But, given the fact that it isn’t and that we’ll only see the percentage of that added amount that we see now, ANWR becomes dinky and even offshore drilling doesn’t yield that much more than properly inflating tires.

  76. Well I’m telling you daniel pollution or not the chinese will surpass us since their government recognizies you need cheap oil for a growing economy. We will fall behind whining about air pollution while they surpass us.

  77. I don’t know if you intended to be ironic…

    I honestly can’t figure out is Energized Democrat a troll or serious?

    You’ve been Reinmoosed!

    Hey, Reinmoose, you caused some emotional damage (or whatever that NYT article called it), you cyberbully!

  78. John,

    Subsidizing gasoline is terrible for the environement.

    Okay, lots of good arguments against subsidizing anything, but this is not one of them.

    I prefer my gas and rubber burning hybrid to have inexpensive power through the free market, not through government do-goodery.

    Besides, the plants love me more than you for driving as much as possible.

  79. Thanks Dagny.
    I like to think I’m a better troll than whoever’s behind Drill Here, Drill Now, and Subsidize. I have my suspicions as to who it is, too.

  80. However, all of those illegal “national parks” outside of DC do need to be sold off, with the proceeds going to the descendants of the people it was taken from, if applicable.

    I never though of you as much of an injun lover, Guy.

    Guess I was wrong.

  81. Well I’m telling you daniel pollution or not the chinese will surpass us since their government recognizies you need cheap oil for a growing economy. We will fall behind whining about air pollution while they surpass us.

    And I’m telling you that supply and demand is all we need, and if China surpasses us, it’s not going to be because they subsidize oil.

  82. He wants to interfere now and then rebuild the reserves so that he can also interfere in the future.

    OK, that’s different then. I did not know about the part of the plan where the reserve would be built back up.

    I prefer my gas and rubber burning hybrid to have inexpensive power through the free market, not through government do-goodery.

    Guy, come on. Nothing in American life has ever been, or will ever be, as massively subsidized as the use of the automobile. It’s patently absurd to talk about the use of any automobile as being an outcome of the free market.

    We could do everything every crazy green wants to do to subsidize solar and wind and geothermal and every other “alternative” energy source out there, and we wouldn’t even begin to come close to what has been done to create and maintain the gasoline economy.

  83. BTW, if this is the Presidential campaign thread for today, I have to say that McCain turns into an even bigger dick every day.

    Apparently he showed up at the Sturgis motorcycle event, and is now comparing his reception there to Obama’s reception in Berlin.

    This is like turning up at the Daytona 500 and saying, “Look at all the people who came out to see me! My campaign is really taking off now!”

  84. No, I’m not being seroius about subsidies.

    But Rush Limbaugh made the exact same argument in all seriousness a few says ago as a “conservative” position.

  85. And I’m telling you that supply and demand is all we need, and if China surpasses us, it’s not going to be because they subsidize oil.

    Well this is a lie because I support carbon taxes… but regardless, my econ 101 argument holds: unless you can prove to me that gas consumption is a positive externality– in other words, the societal optimum amount of consumption exceeds the market equilibrium– then it’s a bad idea. Cmon, man, that’s just basic economics. Please tell me you understand how that works.

  86. People keep referring to the car maintenance thing as a gimmick.

    Jack Tapper (a critic of Obama) wrote this:

    http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2008/07/from-the-fact-1.html

    “Using the website FuelEconomy.gov, Verrastro writes, we can estimate that “the maximum (estimated) fuel economy (i.e., mileage) savings drivers could expect as a result of keeping their engines properly tuned (4%), replacing air filters (up to 10%), properly inflating tires (up to 3%) and using the correct motor oil (1-2%) is 18-19%. Since American drivers use roughly 380 million gallons of gasoline (not including diesel) per day, an 18% improvement translates into a savings of 68 million gallons, or 1.62 million barrels of oil per day.”

    However, since estimates of significant tire underinflation affect only about a quarter of the cars on road — as we noted above with the NHTSA statistics — and it’s highly unlikely that 100% of the cars are in need of tune-ups at any given time, the maximum savings amount is probably closer to 10%, Verrastro says.”

    So only 10% or so, not 19% or so, of 1.6 million barrels a fay. Let’s say 800,000 barrels just from keeping your car in good shape.

    The Energy Information Administration revealed how much we would get from drilling offshore, and when…

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-bush19-2008jun19,0,4873940.story

    “The Energy Information Administration said that opening access to undersea oil fields “in the Pacific, Atlantic and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030.” Drilling in domestic waters off all the coasts except Alaska’s would increase annual production from 2.2 million barrels a day to 2.4 million barrels a day, the agency estimates.”

    So: people make sure their cars are properly tinkered with and we save 800,000 barrels of oil right now.

    Or we drill, and only see 25% of that in 22 years time. Meanwhile, all the cars that haven’t been made efficient have been using 800,000 barrels of oil a day they could have not used. For 22 years.

    That’s almost 6.5 BILLION BARRELS OF OIL wasted.

    At current prices, that’s almost a trillion dollars.

    Who the hell with half a conservative brain is ridiculing this?

  87. DRINK!

    ?

  88. Guy, come on. Nothing in American life has ever been, or will ever be, as massively subsidized as the use of the automobile. It’s patently absurd to talk about the use of any automobile as being an outcome of the free market.

    I disagree. The long haul truck is provided with the same, and they do more pavement damage and constitute a business. Therefore, I would submit they are far more subsidized than the automobile in net terms.

    We could do everything every crazy green wants to do to subsidize solar and wind and geothermal and every other “alternative” energy source out there, and we wouldn’t even begin to come close to what has been done to create and maintain the gasoline economy.

    But we can use nuclear power to generate electricity, which in turn could be used for things like electric vehicles, and on the whole create less waste than current coal technology, oil technology, photovoltaic construction, etc.

    BTW, if this is the Presidential campaign thread for today, I have to say that McCain turns into an even bigger dick every day.

    And Obmama turns into a bigger ass. Perhaps they could go to CA and have Jerry Brown marry them?

  89. This is like turning up at the Daytona 500 and saying, “Look at all the people who came out to see me! My campaign is really taking off now!”

    When I went to the opening of The Dark Knight I was pleased, but not surprised, by all the people who came to see me there.

  90. And Obmama turns into a bigger ass.

    I disagree. At the moment, he’s pandering a lot more to the populists and centrists than the Democrats.

  91. BTW- A right winger yelling for subsidies- the #1 reason I no longer call myself a Republican.

    Repubs and Dems are both about putting the fucks on others to gets what they can gets for their people. What the Dems lack in religious smugness they make up for with intellectual smugness, but they both know what’s better for you so sit down and shut up and change.

    That’s why I call myself neither.

  92. I disagree. At the moment, he’s pandering a lot more to the populists and centrists than the Democrats.

    Ok, so is he then a tigher ass instead? McCain, for his failings, is at least far more consistent than Obama on the whole. Not that I plan on voting for either of them, but you have to give him due.

  93. But we can use nuclear power to generate electricity, which in turn could be used for things like electric vehicles,

    ACK! Stop it!!!

    Well, okay, if you like those little toys, fine by me. Don’t really want to pay for the junk that gos with it. How about you folks who like those things pay for it with a tax on their users?

  94. I want to save money on gas. Maybe Obama could help me. I’m wondering if I should drive slower, or if I should go really really fast?

    Also, should I replace my air filter roughly as dictated by the manufacturer, or is it better to wait until it is completely plugged up by dead insects?

    Now, with air conditioning in the home, should I leave the thermostat set at 72 (like it is right now) or could I save energy and money by turning it up to 76?

  95. [McCain] showed up at the Sturgis motorcycle event Festival of Dirtbags

    This is a group of people whose opinion I value and respect.

    Good grief.

  96. I was under the imrpession that the oil in the SPR (which is light and sweet and easier to refine into transportation fuels) would be sold into the market and the proceeds would purchase the cheaper heavier, sour crude (which is harder to turn into transportation fuels). There wouldn’t be a net change in SPR volume-wise, just quality-wise.

  97. bigbigslacker,

    IIRC, per Sen. Obama’s Word, other countries will tell you what you need to do in those areas. He has spoken.


  98. Well, okay, if you like those little toys, fine by me. Don’t really want to pay for the junk that gos with it. How about you folks who like those things pay for it with a tax on their users?

    I don’t particularly like them either, but it’s a viable alternative. Short rail runs on electricity also. Other stuff isn’t currently viable.

  99. P Brooks,

    Are you trying to the elitist award on this thread or something? lol

  100. Short rail runs on electricity also.

    If they would only conver those from illegal to legal, that would be great.

  101. Ok, so is he then a tigher ass instead? McCain, for his failings, is at least far more consistent than Obama on the whole. Not that I plan on voting for either of them, but you have to give him due.

    Actually, that was a joke about the blue’s association with “donkeys,” but whatever floats your boat.

  102. Also, why did I quote donkeys?

  103. “Catch all the shifting goalposts, flawed assumptions, and bad math there? “All the oil we could get from drilling” becomes “the increase from expanded offshore drilling,” and even then uses a number that seems out of step with published estimates of 250,000 to 1 million bpd.”

    Yes I have noticed a lot of the opponents of drilling try to carve up the potential sources and talk about some particular one as if were the only one in consideration. Some talk about ANWAR and some talk about offshore.

    The reality of course is that we have multiple sources we can tap and the combined total is indeed significant. There is ANWAR, offshore, oil shale in the western U.S. increased use of coal for electric plants AND to make synthetic gasoline. We have plenty of coal.

    There is probably more oil in a lot of the areas being considered than the current official estimates indicate anyway. Those areaas have not only been off limits to drilling for decades, they have also been off limits to seismic and other types of testing that is used to determine the probability of oil and gas deposits. The technologies of those processes have greatly inreased since the last time those areas were tested. But the drilling opponents not only don’t want any drilling, they don’t want anyone to find out how much oil is actually there that could be drilled because they’re afraid that if those estiamtes increase, that would increase the policitcal pressure to drill there.

  104. Unless there is going to be a federal office of tire inflation inspection, comparing it to ANWR or offshore drilling or whatever makes no sense.

    Just as a note, for a 12k mile a year driver, replacing your 12 mpg car with a 15 mpg car saves as much gas as replacing a 30 mpg car with a 60 mpg car. One of the best ways to cut down on gas usage would be to convince drivers of gas-guzzling SUVs to upgrade to slightly more efficient gas-guzzling SUVs.

  105. If they would only conver those from illegal to legal, that would be great.

    (reading it as “converT”)

    I’m an engineer, not a lawyer. I can only tell you what works, not what of the 423 colors of grey this particular color of grey is, nor will I be able to apply the value judgement as to whether it would be good, bad or great to beat someone with a bat painted with that particulr color.

    Electricity works, nuke generates it in a clean reliable relatively cheap manner. Short rail works if the schedule is such that people believe they can get around on it.

    Subsidies don’t work.

    Trucking, for example, is hugely inefficient, and the market would correct this but for the subsidy given trucks in terms of free travelways, no maintenance (well, minimal…if I pay $500/yr in road taxes, a truck doing 3,000 times the damage should pay $1.5Mill, so a couple thousand is nothing essentially).

    Also, why did I quote donkeys?

    As you said, whatever floats your boat 😉

  106. I spent $9 on an air filter at Parts Plus, and my gas mileage went up 2 mpg, slightly less than 10%. Pays for the change in a tank and a half.

  107. Unless there is going to be a federal office of tire inflation inspection, comparing it to ANWR or offshore drilling or whatever makes no sense.

    I was waiting to bring that up after some more rope was dropped all over this thread.

    Don’t worry, that idea fits just fine with the conscripted public service and other ideas from the ILL Senator.

    Just as a note, for a 12k mile a year driver, replacing your 12 mpg car with a 15 mpg car saves as much gas as replacing a 30 mpg car with a 60 mpg car.

    Not tracking with that one. Yes, 12 mpg for 12K comes out to 1,000 gallons. 15@12k is about 800 with a savings of 200. But a 30 MPG car goes 12K on 400 gallons. Yes, the 60 MPG does save 200 gallons, but you are starting from 400/yr rather than 1000.

    Cute math trick though 🙂

    One of the best ways to cut down on gas usage would be to convince drivers of gas-guzzling SUVs to upgrade to slightly more efficient gas-guzzling SUVs.

    The market can do that even without those negative little envirofundie words.

  108. Other Matt,

    I was talking about privatizing those commuter/public transit lines.

  109. Tall Dave,

    The only problem is that your figures are off by a significant degree of magnitude as well.

    1. Crude oil only converts to gasoline at a ratio of about 47% (42 gallons of “sweet” crude makes about 20 gallons of gasoline once refined. Yielding other marketable products and unwanted pollutants as well)

    2. It takes a huge amount of energy to find, build the rigs, drill, pump, mantain facilities, serve the manpower needs, transport, refine, transfer to “blending” stations and ultimately deliver that finished gasoline to the consumer in order to take that crude and turn it into gasoline. The ratio is 1.3 units of energy consumed, for 1 unit of energy in gasoline, or about 57% of the energy content of the crude will be offset by the energy expenditures to capture, process and transport it, whether in the form of that crude oil, natual gas, coal, electricity, etc.

    3. The estimates are that it would be around 6-7 years before the first drop of oil ever left ANWR. The DOE and National Geologic Service says it would be another 7 years after that before the field was operating at peak efficiency and producing a full rate. In short, the estimated life span of ANWR (assuming the oil companies were given lease holds tomorrow) is about 40 years.

    On the other hand, if we started conservation efforts, the impact would be immediate and the benefits would continue for that full 40 year period of time while ANWR is being exploited.

    Bottom line, we are only going to yield about 24-30% of the crude oil in ANWR in terms of gasoline/diesel. The number offset by even everyone doing something that increased their fuel economy by around 1.5% would be more than enough to easily offset ANWR and most estimates from the DOE say that such remedial steps as proper tire pressure, engine maintenance, oil changes, etc. could likely result in an improvment in performance in the entire US vehicle fleet of around 3.5%, a number which would be well beyond more than double the equivalent amount fuel that will be collected from ANWR at the end of the day.

  110. One of the best ways to cut down on gas usage would be to convince drivers of gas-guzzling SUVs to upgrade to slightly more efficient gas-guzzling SUVs.

    The market can do that even without those negative little envirofundie words.

    Hey! That thing got a Hemi?!

    I was talking about privatizing those commuter/public transit lines.

    Which speaks nothing towards legality to my understanding.

  111. Guy,

    Cute math trick though 🙂

    It isnt a trick. Once you are driving a reasonable efficient car, it doesnt help that much to be uber-efficient. Its the same reason we forced my city to get rid of emissions testing on cars, against their will. Virtually all the cars being tested were passing by large margins. The cars that were emitting stuff were the older cars that were exempt from the testing.

    The market can do that even without those negative little envirofundie words.

    Duh. Notice I wrote “convince” not “mandate”.

  112. Lawboy87,

    Any reason not to do both? What is it with people and finding some single “best” solution instead of using everything?

    I want nukes and windmills and hydro dams and ANWR and Gulf drilling and coal plants and natural gas and solar and biofuels and whatever. All without subsidies. Let people with capital try them all and let what works work.

  113. Add onto my list conservation and tire inflation and fuel efficient cars and private light rail and private bus lines and private heavy rail and etc.

  114. OM,

    Hey! That thing got a Hemi?!

    If it is mine it will!

    Which speaks nothing towards legality to my understanding.

    Nothing in the Constitution gives the federal government the authority to expend funds on public transportation.

    If Ithica, NY* wants public transit and wishes to strap its citizens with the bill, fine by me, but the people of Peoria, IL need to be left alone about it.

    *An adaptation of one of my favorite Firing Line discussions with WFB, Jr. and a Carter official. Amazingly, the Carter official was on the correct side of the argument with Mr. Buckley, IIRC.

  115. “we-are-the-ones-we’ve-been-waiting-for.-We-are-the-change-that-we-seek”

    We-are-the-evil-speculators

  116. “I want nukes and windmills and hydro dams and ANWR and Gulf drilling and coal plants and natural gas and solar and biofuels and whatever. All without subsidies. Let people with capital try them all and let what works work.”

    That “without subsidies” part is what a lot of people DON’T want. They want the government to pick the “winners” and force everyone to use it – or more accuratly, they want to pick the winners themselves and they want the government to make everyone else to fall in line behind their “brilliant” decisions.

  117. Don’t worry, that idea fits just fine with the conscripted public service and other ideas from the ILL Senator.

    If we’re talking about putting in place rules governing the use of vehicles on federal interstates, there’s no need to analogize it to Obama’s national public service boondoggle.

    As I noted before, the automobile is massively subsidized. One way that subsidization has occurred is by the century-long construction of a government road network that is partially federal. You’ve had your subsidies, and if the feds decide to take their pound of flesh for them you have no right to complain. If the state can say I can’t walk as a pedestrian or ride a horse or a bicycle in the left-hand lane of the Long Island Expressway, they can ALSO say you can’t drive in ANY lane on ANY federal interstate without properly-inflated tires. There is absolutely no difference other than your perceived convenience, which means dick.

    Hell, if they wanted to they could ban entire vehicle classes from the federal interstates, the way they already ban horses and bicycles. Ban all non-commercially registered SUV’s with below a certain MPG or whatever. Don’t like it? Next time build a private national road system.

    Nothing in the Constitution gives the federal government the authority to expend funds on public transportation.

    Taken literally, nothing in the Constitution allows the federal government to spend money on roads for any use other than by the postal service and the military.

    But say you read “post roads” in a more expansive sense. I would certainly be happy to see the public transit systems in the US privatized, but there are lots of other Constitutional violations in our transportation system that I would also want to see undone at the same time. For example, local governments engage in massive unConstitutional regulatory takings in order to make sure that life stays convenient for auto drivers. When local governments can no longer set parking space requirements for development, can no longer prevent development up to the property line, can no longer zone for density to keep populations on certain road nets down, etc., then I think we will be on our way to a Constitutional transportation system. But not before that.

  118. I know this will do nothing, but I feel the need to point out from time to time when Guy gets going on “enviro-fundies” that believing that global warming is real and that driving a low mileage vehicle when you have no need for it is bad are completely separate propositions from what the government should do about it. Just because leftists like something doesn’t mean it is wrong. Ideas about what to do about it might be wrong, but the facts are the facts. I happen to think that people driving around in huge gas-guzzling SUVs are inconsiderate, wasteful assholes. That doesn’t mean I think they should be forbidden or discouraged from doing so by some government program.

  119. Zeb,

    So you completly understand my position and partially agree with it?

    I do not go along with the name-calling of folks who like different things than me, but that’s just me.

  120. That “without subsidies” part is what a lot of people DON’T want.

    Let’s think about wind for a minute, because doing so illustrates exactly how the tangled public-private energy system we’ve currently got obscures the issue of what is and what is not subsidized.

    The fossil fuel power generation system we’ve got now came into being under a regime of public/private utilities that were protected from competition and granted monopoly power, were guaranteed a certain rate of return on their investment, and were aided by governments in seizing easements for their transmission lines. This series of interventions produced a centralized model of electrical generation under which large fossil fuel burning power plants are the most “efficient”.

    If electrical generators had not been granted local monopolies, had not been guarnanteed rates of return, had not been able to either seize or extort easements from property owners for their lines, etc., would our current generation model even exist? Would it have been “efficient” to build large, central plants to burn fossil fuels and then to distribute that power to passive consumers?

    Or would the “market”, in the absence of the state’s finger on the scale, have favored a large number of local power generation points [using technologies including wind] over a small number of centralized points?

    And if the current system is in fact the result of massive subsidy and intervention, what grounds are there for crying “Don’t disturb the market!” when someone advocates intervening a second time?

  121. Nothing in the Constitution gives the federal government the authority to expend funds on public transportation.

    If Ithica, NY* wants public transit and wishes to strap its citizens with the bill, fine by me, but the people of Peoria, IL need to be left alone about it.

    Is public transportation paid by federal money? Most of pub trans I’ve encountered has been local/state financed. Feds provide funds for Interstate systems and federal roads, but not bus lines nor rail lines (other than Amtrak, but they don’t manage their own rail anyway to any degree). Almost all they money spent to manage it is spent by the State, with the exception of federal land stuff such as National Parks, Military, etc.

  122. Fluffy,

    True – one thing that drives me (as an urban libertarian) nuts is the history of rural electrification under Roosevelt’s New Deal. Cities are efficient concentrations of infrastructure, already produced… that were not competitive to compete with Federally subsidized electric and highway infrastructure out in the sticks. I fully believe this is part of the cause of 50s and 60s urban blight (that plus Robert Moses, of course).

  123. “Just because leftists like something doesn’t mean it is wrong. Ideas about what to do about it might be wrong, but the facts are the facts.”

    And theories are just theories – man made global warming is still just a theory – not an established fact.

  124. Just because leftists like something doesn’t mean it is wrong.

    Unless it’s joe, of course, in which case the fuckwitted partisan racist assholery quotient exceeds any rational value to the idea.

    Ideas about what to do about it might be wrong, but the facts are the facts. I happen to think that people driving around in huge gas-guzzling SUVs are inconsiderate, wasteful assholes.

    Perhaps. If they’re urban soccer moms, I tend to agree with you. I drive one, but typically have four people in the vehicle in 4WD going off road for work purposes. I’d be quite happy to drive a green vehicle which seats 5 large men comfortably, has functional 4WD that can handle being actually off road as opposed to “drive 25mph in the snow” 4WD, but I can’t seem to find such a thing. Does that make me an asshole? Not in and of itself, at least not for driving it as I have a legitimate need and no other type of vehicle is sufficient. Soccer moms that are using a Suburban for “safety”, meaning they’ll kill someone else instead of themselves, and never put it in 4WD, I would agree are high on the wasteful asshole scale.

  125. He’s got an even nuttier idea, namely giving every adult in America $500 and funding it by taxing oil companies’ “windfall profits”.

    Maybe the right-wing nutjobs are after all right about Obama being a Marxist.

  126. Other Matt,

    Is public transportation paid by federal money? Most of pub trans I’ve encountered has been local/state financed.

    You have been around here how long and are not aware that federal funds are used for both roads and public mass transit, like the DC area METRO system and others around the country?

    You really really really did not know that?

  127. Indeed, public transit systems are a big beneficiary of the earmarks.

  128. Shouldn’t a “Strategic Petroleum Reserve ” be used in say a time of war instead of when Joe Six pack has to pick between a full tank of gas or that extra 50 cable channels?

  129. You have been around here how long and are not aware that federal funds are used for both roads and public mass transit, like the DC area METRO system and others around the country?

    Construction, yes, in the same manner they fund grants to states for other things. Operations are what I was speaking to.

  130. Fluffy,

    The argument that

    1. Subsidies did bad things in the past

    2. So in order to be fair

    3. lets give subsidies to (insert renewable energy fad of the day)

    Is terribly destructive to the environment and to the development of functional alternative energy sources.

    The government mandate / subsidy policy implemented biofuels boondoggle and the ever increasing environmental destruction caused by it is a textbook example of just how dangerous government subsidies are.

    Ending existing subsidies, not enacting new ones is the best way to make progress in alternative energy.

  131. The argument that….

    Kinda like affirmative action?

  132. Man, the confusion and contradiction in the energy debate is beyond amazing.

    Removing oil from the SPR is a bad idea for many reasons. One is that it reduces the pressure on oil supply, which could lower the price of oil – for the entire world. That means demand will increase in places like China. Or, OPEC may decide to screw with the U.S. by reducing output commensurately, keeping prices just as high as they were. Then when the SPR run out, oil continues its climb, and nothing changes – except now the U.S. has to buy additional oil to replenish the SPR, driving oil prices up. The result could be selling U.S. oil at low prices, and buying it back at high prices.

    You might notice from this that what the U.S. is doing by depleting SPR, assuming it HAS to be replenished, is speculating in the oil futures market. Essentially, it’s buying a contract for 70 million barrels of oil in the future. If the price goes up between now and then, this will cost the U.S. money. But just as importantly, the market will price this in to the current price – the knowledge that the U.S. will shortly be making an additional 70 million barrel purchase to replenish the SPR will be factored into estimates of future demand, and drive up the futures price of oil – which will have an effect on the current price.

    The oil market is global and fungible, which makes it exceedingly hard to screw around with by fiat. Pass a law cutting local consumption, and demand increases elsewhere.

    If the U.S. were to switch overnight to a higher-cost alternative energy source, the lowered demand for oil would drive the price down and stimulate demand for it in Asia and elsewhere until a new equilibrium was reached. They’d get cheaper oil, at the expense of the U.S.’s high cost replacement. It will do nothing to lower the amount of money going to terrorist nations, but it would lower the amount of influence the U.S. has over those nations. It will do nothing for the amount of oil burned in the world – it will just change the distribution of who burns it.

    This is a problem that cannot be solved by fiat. You can’t announce subsidies or tariffs or huge government programs to solve the problem.

    Understand that every drop of oil in the middle east is going to come out of the ground and be burned – until it’s too expensive to burn relative to the alternative energy sources available.

    The only way out of this mess is to come up with new energy sources that are cheaper than petroleum. As oil goes up in price, other sources will eventually be more cost-effective, and we’ll move away from oil all on our own. Nuclear is already there, but Obama opposes that. Wind is almost there, but wind is a very limited resource that will never produce more than a fraction of our power needs. Solar is getting better and may get there, but it too cannot supply all our needs.

    We need to wait until these alternative sources are available in quantity at low prices. In the meantime, all the government meddling in the world is just going to distort prices, create perverse incentives, make everything worse. One thing government could do in a responsible energy program is to eliminate the already-extant regulations that have partly caused this mess. Drop sugar tariffs, eliminate ethanol subsidies, streamline nuclear regulation, end the executive moratorium on offshore drilling, allow ANWR to be opened if Alaska so chooses, etc.

    The last thing you want to do right now is ‘give Americans a break’ with any kind of subsidy or market manipulation, because the pain they are feeling is due to price signals which are very important. If the high price of oil reflects our best understanding of its current value, then artificially lowering it or subsidizing it is a really bad idea. If you want to give Americans a break, a better way to do it would be with a tax credit on something totally unrelated to oil, so at least the oil price signals continue to work and stimulate investment in alternatives and conservation.

    Obama’s plan also includes mandating 1.5 million plug-in hybrids by 2015, and giving a $7000 tax break for purchase of a plug-in hybrid. I’m actually a fan of plug-ins, and think they currently look like a good solution. Yet I think Obama’s plan is idiotic.

    Why is it idiotic? For one, it pushes a specific technology. Plug-ins look good today, but there are all kinds of other technologies being researched. Governments are horrible at picking winning technologies (if this plan had come out five years ago, the subsidy would have been for hydrogen vehicles. If it came out three years ago, it would have been for bio-fueled vehicles). If you want the market to work, you have to allow it to seek the optimimum path. Barack Obama is not qualified to decide that we should all start buying plug-ins, and neither are his advisors.

    Second, his timelines are pulled right out of his ass. We have no idea if we could meet them. We don’t know if we could make enough batteries. We don’t know if the grid can withstand it. We don’t even know if it makes sense, because we can’t predict the price of gas in 2015. But mandated timelines distort the market heavily. They divert resources, they create ‘crash’ programs that may be ill thought out. They suck resources out of alternatives.

    There’s all the evidence in the world that the market is working just fine (OPEC notwithstanding). High gas prices are causing feverish amounts of research into alternative forms of energy and smaller, more efficient cars. All auto makers are working on plug-ins as fast as they can, along with other technologies. Why in hell do we need a ‘man with a plan’ to step forward and centrally manage it all? He’ll just screw it up.

    High prices have signalled to the market that we need cheaper energy and more efficient ways to use it. Mankind has never devised a better mechanism than the free market, so long as it has the signals it needs (i.e. there are no market failures). When oil was $14/bbl, you could argue that externalities like carbon emissions caused the market to break, because those externalities were a significant fraction of the cost of the oil. Now that oil is 10 times that price, the market is much more efficient. If you have an efficient market, let it do its thing, great as the temptation to tinker may be.

  133. Just wait until the tokamaks can push past the break even point in creating controlled fusion energy.

    Then you’ll have all the power you want.

    And when and if that happens, watch all the enviro-leftists switch gears immediatly and start denouncing it as being TOO cheap. Limitless cheap power would make it much easier to increase consumption of everything else in the way of raw materials and spur all sorts of massive building and development that they hate with a passion.

  134. Let them eat hope.

  135. I don’t get this “windfall” profits bullshit. Exxon had a damn fine quarter, earning over 11B,but paid over 32B in taxes.I think 3 times earnings is quite enough. http://www.istockanalyst.com/article/viewarticle+articleid_2459357&title=Exxon_Posts_Record.html

  136. robc and guy yes that’s a good trick. But it doesn’t matter what the length of the commute is. For any two commutes of equal length, replacing a 12 MPG car with a 1 MPG car is the same as replacing a 30 MPG car with 60 MPG, or replacing a 60 MPG car with a Vorlon perpetual motion drive car. That’s because
    >>> 1/12. – 1/15.
    0.016666666666666663
    >>> 1/30. – 1/60.
    0.016666666666666666
    >>> 1/60.
    0.016666666666666666

  137. Oops. Thats “replacing a 12 MPG car with a 15 MPG car”.

  138. I like when TallDave, Montag and Other Matt get together and Shanghai a thread, because I know I can skip the resulting clusterbang.

  139. The argument that

    1. Subsidies did bad things in the past

    2. So in order to be fair

    3. lets give subsidies to (insert renewable energy fad of the day)

    That’s not exactly what I am arguing.

    I am arguing that the people who say that they want to stick up for the gasoline-powered automobile and the centralized fossil fuel burning electrical utility because that’s what the “free market” has produced are full of shit. They weren’t and aren’t the product of the free market, so to the extent that these people tell themselves that “their side” represents the market and “the other side” are dirty hippies who want state subsidies, they’re full of crap.

    Ending existing subsidies, not enacting new ones is the best way

    But “ending the subsidies” would require tearing up all the public roads, since their existence as a capital good represents an ongoing and perpetual subsidy. It would also require forcing the utilities to disgorge their monopoly profits, and tear down any power lines built on easements that grew out of their monopoly status. We can’t really do anything of those things, but since we can’t we will continue to get distorted outcomes in our energy markets if we just make no further changes.

  140. No mention of how he believes raising taces on oil companies will make them drop prices? it didn’t work last year when we put them up to 44% it didn’t work the year before, or the year before. In fact all they did was jack UP the price when that happened. Just like how they pass on the gas tax in illinois on to the people.

    Does anyone REALLY believe this will work?

  141. Energized Democrat is on energized on what-meth?

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