Wednesday, February 01, 2006

"Addicted to Oil"

Are Americans "addicted to oil" as President Bush -- borrowing a line from environmental extremists -- said in his State of the Union message last night? We are "addicted" to many things, for example breathing, eating, and sleeping -- which are unavoidable aspects of living. So, let's boil it down to an "addiction" to living.

President Bush presumably would not deny us the right to live, so he must want to deny us the right to live as well as we can. Of course, living as well as we can should not encompass cheating, lying, fraud, deception, theft, or murder. (I will resist the urge to pronounce here on politicians and the parasites upon whose votes they depend.) Assuming for the moment that Americans generally do not do such things in order to live, it seems that President Bush is telling us that there must be a limit on how well we should live. Moreover, that limit would seem to apply indiscriminately. The relatively poor person who relies on oil (or its derivative forms of energy) for transportation to work, enough light to read by, and enough fuel to cook with is just as "addicted" as the very rich person who relies on oil for jetting about the globe, projecting motion pictures on a home theater screen the size of Rhode Island, and eating food prepared and served by a small army of servants. (Oops, they're not called "servants" anymore, are they?)

Thus government, in its wisdom, shall punish poor and rich alike for their "addiction" to living -- or at least to living as well as they are able. How will it do that? By taxing us all for research into and development of alternative sources of energy. Isn't it strange that government should have to do that when the "obscene profits" garnered by oil companies will surely call forth from the private sector the very same kinds of research and development?

Not only would private research and development be funded voluntarily, but it would more assuredly pay off. Private actors who have put their own money at risk do not make perfect decisions, but they make better decisions than politicians, lobbyists, and bureaucrats who get to play with taxpayers' money. It's not "real" money to politicians, lobbyists, and bureaucrats -- but it's real money to the rest of us.

And most of the rest of us are not very rich. We're addicted to living, and trying to live as well as we can. President Bush's program would punish our addiction and make it harder for us to live as well as we can.