Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Today’s New York Times’ Headline: “Energy Crisis: Many Paths but No Solutions”

The above headline, “Energy Crisis: Many Paths but No Solutions,” appears on page one of the print version of The Times’ National Edition. I can’t find it on the web version of The Times, however. (To wit: “Your search for Energy Crisis: Many Paths but No Solutions in all fields returned 0 results.”) Perhaps it was withdrawn to avoid embarrassment.

The headline should be embarrassing because it suggests either gross dishonesty or gross stupidity. This is because the solution to the energy crisis is so blindingly obvious. The solution is: allow the oil companies to drill for oil—in Alaska, in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of California, on all the land mass of the United States now set aside as “wild-life preserves” and “wilderness” areas. Allow the construction of new atomic power plants! Stop interfering with the strip mining of coal! Stop interfering with the construction of refineries, pipelines, and harbor facilities necessary to the supply of oil and natural gas! This will increase the supply and reduce the demand for oil (this last because substitutes for it will be more readily available). All this can be summed up in very few words: Politicians and environmentalists, get the hell out of the way!

Instead, we are told that the oil companies are responsible for the scarcity of oil and its high price and should be punished for it. No! The truth is that the environmentalists and the politicians who support them are responsible.

Perhaps they will claim that they act out of fear: the fear of rising sea levels a hundred years from now. If that’s the reason, then they should say so. They should say that the energy crisis could easily be solved but that they are more afraid of flooding in Bangladesh in a hundred years than of Americans not being able to afford to drive their cars and heat their homes today. Let them have the honesty to say that this is why they choose to prevent the energy crisis from being solved.

This article is copyright © 2006, by George Reisman. Permission is hereby granted to reproduce and distribute it electronically and in print, other than as part of a book and provided that mention of the author’s web site is included. (Email notification is requested.) All other rights reserved. George Reisman is the author of Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics (Ottawa, Illinois: Jameson Books, 1996) and is Pepperdine University Professor Emeritus of Economics.