Aug 01 2008

Democrats Squeeze the Water Balloon, expecting it not to change shape

Category: energy,environment,oil pricesharmonicminer @ 1:15 pm

When the USA outsources oil production to the rest of the world, the pumping tends to be done by nations that are far less careful about the environment than USA companies, in places more prone to damage caused by terrorists, natural disasters, and just plain sloppy work, with supervision done by corrupt regimes, and the profits going to the same place. Charles Krauthammer points out the environmental damage done BY the eco-panic Left:

Does Pelosi imagine that with so much of America declared off-limits, the planet is less injured as drilling shifts to Kazakhstan and Venezuela and Equatorial Guinea? That Russia will be more environmentally scrupulous than we in drilling in its Arctic?The net environmental effect of Pelosi’s no-drilling willfulness is negative. Outsourcing U.S. oil production does nothing to lessen worldwide environmental despoliation. It simply exports it to more corrupt, less efficient, more unstable parts of the world — thereby increasing net planetary damage.
Sen. Chuck Schumer — deeply committed to saving just those pieces of the planet that might have huge reserves of American oil — demanded that the Saudis increase production by a million barrels a day. It doesn’t occur to him that by eschewing the slightest disturbance of the mating habits of the Arctic caribou, he is calling for the further exploitation of the pristine deserts of Arabia. In the name of the planet, mind you.

The other panacea, yesterday’s rage, is biofuels: We can’t drill our way out of the crisis, it seems, but we can greenly grow our way out. By now, however, it is blindingly obvious even to Democrats that biofuels are a devastating force for environmental degradation. It has led to the rape of “lungs of the world” rainforests in Indonesia and Brazil as huge tracts have been destroyed to make room for palm oil and sugar plantations.

Here in the U.S., one out of every three ears of corn is stuffed into a gas tank (by way of ethanol), causing not just food shortages abroad and high prices at home, but intensive increases in farming with all of the attendant environmental problems (soil erosion, insecticide pollution, water consumption, etc.).

This to prevent drilling on an area in the Arctic one-sixth the size of Dulles Airport that leaves untouched a refuge one-third the size of Britain.

There is nothing new about the Left’s approach to using government power. They think the world is made of firm clay, and they can just stick in a thumb and create a hole that won’t have much effect on the rest.

But the world is not like firm clay, it is like a water balloon. It is dynamic. You can’t change the shape in one place without changing the rest of it. Further, the ways the shape will change are frequently unpredictable, and they happen faster than you can adjust for them as you keep pushing in different places. In other words, if you think you can take a water balloon and make it hold the shape of a seahorse, by molding it with your hands, you’re doomed to disappointment. Only totalitarian governments use so much control that they CAN force the water balloon into any shape they wish, and even they fail to produce effects without unintended consequences.

Higher taxes decrease revenues, because the investor class will change its behavior, and put less money at risk, or seek less taxed ways to invest it. Minimum wage laws create unemployment. Government funding of health care causes decreased quality and shortages. Trying to “save the environment” by not drilling in the USA will cause MORE total damage to the planet. Financially subsidizing irresponsible behavior (AFDC and the like) caused MORE people to suffer the consequences of that irresponsible behavior. Banning DDT led to more malaria deaths in a few decades than all the deaths attributed to anthropogenic environmental damage for the entire history of the planet. Regulating free speech with the “campaign finance reform” laws resulted in more money entering politics than ever before, and in more damaging ways. And on it goes, in issue after issue, from education to criminal justice.

This doesn’t mean that government should never do anything because of the law of unintended consequences. It does mean that government needs to carefully review what is actually in its control. (Hint: the total amount of world wide oil pumping is not, over the long term. The main question is who will pump it, and under what conditions, and who will benefit. If we don’t drill in the Gulf of Mexico, Cuba and China WILL. What are the odds that they will be more careful about it than we would?) Certainly, all proposals should be evaluated for what people (in the USA and abroad) will do in response to any new law or policy.

The Left doesn’t understand this. Or maybe it doesn’t care. It’s hard to tell.

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