Andrew Sullivan being right, then wrong.

October 29, 2008

Andrew Sullivan has a very interesting post that starts out sensibly and veers off into the impossible.  From section a):

It’s very encouraging to see thugs like Chavez and Putin get the wind knocked out of their sails a little; and obviously many Americans are relieved to have some relief in their budgets. But the sad truth is: only high gas prices will ever wean us off Middle Eastern oil and provide the real market incentives to pioneer non-carbon energy. Falling oil prices could derail a serious move toward energy independence, which will be achieved in the end by the private sector, not the government.

This is absolutely correct.  Other than policy wonks and econerds, few people think that the ‘energy crisis’ means anything other than “I have a crisis in paying to fill up my fucking gas tank”.  But this is what makes the second half of the post so implausible.  It begins:

My own view is that the one thing the government can do right now is keep gas prices high, by raising gas taxes. We now have a golden opportunity.

Indeed?  This is the time to raise fuel taxes?  That’s going to go down a treat with the electorate.  I can only imagine the demagoguery the Republicans could whip up, even given that they would be wrong.  And what if prices stay low for another year while the economy improves dramatically and unexpectedly, thus allowing the political possibility of a new tax?  Well by that point the ‘energy crisis’, as understood by most Americans, will have passed because they will be able to fill their tanks for a reasonable amount of cash.

So, better to go with Sullivan’s plan A, and let the markets take care of this problem.

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