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Time To Crop Government Out of The Energy Sector

Whenever our bloated federal government comes up with a grand, new scheme, the law of “unintended consequences” strikes hard and fast. The energy policies of both Presidents Obama and Bush give a striking example of the harm that a well-meaning government can cause. At a time when gas prices are at their higher level yet, it makes sense that we should be looking to other forms of fuel to put into our cars and churn out of our factories. Thus, the two previous administrations, with the support of many politicians, have subsidized the conversion of crops into biofuels. By creating biofuels, however, farms are setting aside crops that would have normally been grown for food. As a result, more fuel derived from our farmlands means a proportionally less amount of food, much to the detriment of the world’s starving poor. Our misguided efforts to mandate which fuels should be used to fill our car tanks fail to consider the actual consequences, which stretch as far as destitute Africans struggling just to fill their stomachs. Moreover, since there is a reduced supply of food on the market, the cost of the ever-so-precious commodity has skyrocketed in recent years. Atrocious, biofuel-friendly bills such as the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 have been responsible for 75% of the spike in food prices over the past decade, according to the World Bank.

While the plight of the starving African or Asian peasant may not be making daily headlines, another byproduct of rising food prices certainly is: the “Arab Spring.” Images of deadly unrest in places such as Egypt, Libya, and Yemen bear witness to wide-spread anger in the Middle-East, which stems largely from increased costs. In nations such as Egypt, a perfect storm of high unemployment and skyrocketing food prices drove normally peaceful populations to the boiling point. According to World Bank President Robert Zoellick, the cost of food was certainly an “aggravating factor” in the recent turmoil, and it is easy to see why- record highs in world food prices have coincided with the rise of the revolutionaries.

Although a federal policy pushing for energy independence may appear to be benevolent at first glance, things like the skyrocketing cost of a burger and third-world uprisings bear tribute to its ugly consequences. Such is the nature, though, of that over-bearing, ever-present law of unexpected consequences. Our central planners in Washington D.C., armed with the best intentions as always, try to craft a complex system of agricultural mandates, subsidies, and regulations, with disastrous consequences to struggling US households and world citizens alike. To avoid outcomes such as these in the future, it is imperative that US policymakers tread lightly when considering to impose broad designs on the vital energy sector. While mountains of laws can be inscribed into the federal code, none can override the over-arching peak of unforeseen consequences.

Jeff Carboneau

Since US energy falls within the loosely described definition of "Interstate Commerce" this will be a tough debate ... but the complications and injuries suffered under the "Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007" are as obvious as Obama's unwillingness to remove the Permitorium against domestic energy production.

Joseph Marshall

Everything the government tries to regulate cost us money. Businesses can go belly up if they can't compete with largely unregulated countries whose standard of living is such that they only have to pay workers a small fraction of what they do here. But government never loses. They just borrow more and or raise our overhead. I said overhead cause the government has more ways than taxes to shake us down for money. DOT regulations generate millions each year, Homeland Security, EPA, OSHA .... on and on. All government regulated business feel the squeeze, and of course they pass that expense on to us. But what I call big business is a heartless money making machine and they refuse to lose. They'll shut down a plant and move it and our jobs overseas in a heartbeat with no regard for the families they put in jeopardy. And with NAFTA it's so much easier. I personally believe the gov. should get out of everything and let the people decide, after all we are the ones who have to live with the consequences while the gov. goes on the next thing they can screw up. I just wish they'd stop and go back to taking care of and serving the people like their supposed to and quit trying to rule over us. They taken our Democracy by their unwillingness to do their job and trying to be rulers instead of servants of the people.

Jeff Carboneau

Companies are in business to make money, not employ people. If our government stands in the way of them making money here, then they will [if able] find a government who will. Look at States in here in the USA. Higher-taxed states are losing businesses/jobs to lower-taxed states. Please do not blame the businesses for moving away when it's the gov't that drives them out.

Jim Whiting

So, what, exactly and specifically, are your suggestions? I've read it three times and I still don't see any.


@ Jim, its in the headline