I disagree with some of what Al Gore said today, but I welcome it nonetheless.
Let me start with my points of disagreement:
- The Apollo Program is not the model. The Manhattan Project is the model. Apollo implies a win-win-win we can watch on TV. In World War II we gladly taxed ourselves and lent the rest to the government knowing our lives were at stake — as they were.
- A carbon tax, used to cut payroll taxes, won’t pass. Businesses won’t wear it. A price floor, which can be adjusted downward for alternative fuels as they come on-stream (and their costs decline), is a better way of getting where we need to go. What solar, wind, and geothermal companies need most is the assurance of a market for long-term investment.
- Government intervention must be minimized, not expanded. Set the rules and let the best technology win. We can’t afford to let goobers like Boone Pickens hijack this thing and use it as an excuse for subsidies.
My main problem with Gore for a long time has been his making global warming into a partisan divide, and despite his talk about national security this speech maintains that trend. Getting an introduction from Bernie Sanders is nice, but it’s partisan.
It’s counter-productive. The War Against Oil must be non-partisan in fact, not just rhetorically.
Instead talk about efficiency as a business imperative. That’s the low-hanging fruit here.
When we use
less energy to produce what we make, we have a practical market
advantage. We offset our labor costs, dollar for dollar, when we
insulate and innovate to consume less energy. Those incentives also
exist in the consumer market. By not owning an SUV I can go out to eat
more often, and afford college for the kids. Every gallon we save to do
the same work is a gallon we don’t have to buy.
If government is to subsidize anything, it should be efficiency. I recently spent $40,000 insulating my small Atlanta home. I’m saving $150/month as a result. The economic pay-off is slow. If I can write a portion of that off my taxes, even on a five-year basis (it is a capital expense) that makes me more likely to do it.
Conservatives should join the War Against Oil because it’s an economic
imperative. It’s not just national security, it’s profit.
One other thing Gore didn’t mention, and should have, is how the
Chinese are working hard on all these fronts. They have a bigger
problem than we do. They must import all their oil, and their domestic
coal supplies burn very dirty. They are anxious for wind and solar and
geothermal, if anything more anxious than we are. And I guarantee you
they have policies in place to fight the War Against Oil over there.
Nothing gets conservatives in a lather faster than the idea that some
foreigner is going to beat us at something. So use the Chinese. (Look, a solar-powered Chinese city. Scary.)
a War both sides can actually win.