Tom Friedman has something to say about energy, hard truths that most people don’t want to hear. As he notes, these are the things that our presidential candidates ought to be telling us but have not. Will anyone step forward?
The price of gasoline is never going back down. Therefore, if you buy a big gas guzzler today, you are locking yourself into perpetually high gasoline bills. You are buying a pig that will eat you out of house and home.
…there is no short-term fix for gasoline prices. Prices are what they are as a result of rising global oil demand from India, China and a rapidly growing Middle East on top of our own increasing consumption, a shortage of “sweet” crude that is used for the diesel fuel that Europe is highly dependent upon and our own neglect of effective energy policy for 30 years.
Every decade we look back and say: “If only we had done the right thing then, we would be in a different position today.”
We didn’t do what was right, needless to say.
Friedman’s solution is, I think, one that we shouldn’t have to implement – putting an artificial floor under gasoline prices to mandate a price-point that causes energy conservation to take place. We ought to be able to do that ourselves.
In the unlikely event that oil prices ever do go back down to pre-Iraq war prices, consumer demand would very likely increase in proportion. A price floor would be one way to combat the problem of short-term consumer memory, albeit another government regulation that, like so many others, is an artificial construct implemented in place of individual responsibility.
But as regulations go it might not be a bad one. At least it would discourage the outflow of American dollars into the pockets of apathetic or hostile Islamic states and encourage the development domestic energy sources such as liquid coal, natural gas, and hydrogen power, all of which I’ve written about before.