Monday, August 11, 2008

The answer is blowing in the windmills

What about gasoline at ten bucks a gallon; think that might change your life for the worse? Think again. Of course I'm not talking about a sudden rise from today's prices, I'm talking about what would have happened if the California Cowboy hadn't eviscerated Jimmy Carter's program to make us energy independent and we had used gasoline taxes to pay for new technology.

We should really be fed up with the way Republicans tell us that no example abroad ever applies to America as well as with the insistence that using energy faster and selling it cheaper is the way to ensure our future as a productive and prosperous nation. Let's, just for once, pull our collective heads out of Dick Cheney's rectum and look at some success stories elsewhere. let's look at Denmark.

Back when Carter was taking measures to remove the yoke of OPEC from around out necks, the Danes were getting 99% of their energy from the Middle East. They did something about it - we didn't. Instead we laughed at Carter, elected Reagan, and we're still importing oil and looking for more like there was no tomorrow. The Danes now import none. Their taxes and regulation spurred innovation, our aversion to it produced none. Their new technology produced jobs and profitable exports, we switched to driving big trucks.

Yes they have high energy taxes, but they are thriving which is in no small part the result of their clean-power industry that, according to Roger Friedman writing in the International Herald Tribune, is one of the most competitive in the world today and accounts for well over ten billion in exports -- not bad for a tiny country. Denmark today gets nearly 20 percent of its electricity from wind while the United States derives only about 1 percent. They recycle waste heat from industry and derive electricity from trash and they did it all with strict government regulation and energy taxes. Now before you launch into an eruption of Republican dogma about government interference and the holiness of Tax-free borderline anarchy, it's been a financial bonanza for the Danes. Their unemployment rate is 1.6% and ours is fast approaching 6%

"We are going to introduce a new tax reform in the direction of even higher taxation on energy and the revenue generated on that will be used to cut taxes on personal income - so we will improve incentives to work and improve incentives to save energy and develop renewable energy."
says Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen. I'm willing to bet he won't have to put up with the kind of minstrel show financed with oil bucks that we have to endure, or with sneering snarling and slithering candidates and Republican-owned news media squealing like pigs about tire gauges either. I'm also willing to bet that when the crumbled remains of the United States finally does attempt to do something about that nasty, festering cut on our Achilles heel we'll be buying the technology from Denmark and China -- if we can afford it.


Buffalo said...

I have a difficult time understanding how increasing the taxes on, for instance, gasoline is going to help me. We can barely keep enough gas in the tank to get us where we absolutely have to go. There simply isn't enough money.


buffalo, from 2001 through 2008, the economy grew by 31%, of which the lion's share went to the upper 1% super-rich. The middle class got nothing; in fact the wealth of the middle class shrank by an estimated 7% during the same period ... that too going to the super-rich.

Of course, you don't have money ... Bush's cronies in corporate America got your fair share of economic growth, and you have been victimized without your even knowing it.

With respect to energy policy, as the saying goes, we must have short term pain in order to have long-term gain, or else our country will turn into a third class banana republic (if we haven't already become one).

Like Denmark, Brazil and France embraced energy independence policies that have paid off: 80% of France's electrical generation is nuclear. Brazil, of course, runs on ethanol. These programs were started over 30 years ago while our country slept. Today, France is the only country conducting fusion research; our Plasma Research Lab at Princeton University was closed in the 1990s.

Short term pain for long term gain ... any politician who claims otherwise is either lying or pandering.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

Capt. Fogg said...

To do it at this late date isn't going to help you or me or anyone else. As with additional drilling, it takes way too long to make a difference.

If we had started 30 or 35 years ago and started slowly, a few cents per gallon at a time, small steady increases in mandatory appliance efficiency, gas mileage and make investments in other forms of energy, transportation, etc. I think that by now we would have alternative energy, alternative public transportation and would be close to significant independence.

Instead we're up the creek and dealing with the sudden ramp up in prices is ruining lives. If you live where I do and you need to get to work, you have to drive or walk in the tropical heat and torrential rains - not really an option for many of us.

Working people are leaving the area because of this and the Republicans use that fact to say the averageincome is rising!

I blame it on the Republicans, but of course the voters wouldn't ever approve a tax increase no matter how small so we share the blame and pay the price of procrastination.

Chris said...

Carter put solar panels on the White House. Reagan took 'em down. To me the symbolic meaning of both actions speaks loudly... But to a buddy of mine, all it meant was, "Reagan was a realist - solar panels back then were crap." I think my buddy missed the point. The solar panels on the White House weren't there to provide energy, but rather to spark innovation which would have, in time, given us solar panels that AREN'T crap.