Krauthammer wants the US to do the smart thing and reduce our reliance on Saudi oil. He’s not just chasing the chimera of energy independence, he also wants to deprive our enemies of one of the best sources of walking-around-blowing-stuff-up money.
Here’s the sensible part of the K-Plan:
Liberals also need to get over their allergy to the cleanest form of energy, nuclear power. The administration has proposed support for a new generation of safer nuclear reactors. You’d think environmentalists would be enthusiastic. Nuclear energy is remarkably benign: no greenhouse gases or other pollutants strewn in the air, the water and your lungs. Of course, like all energy, nuclear has its pollutant — there is no free lunch — but in this case you can find it, concentrate it, put it in box cars and ship it off to some Godforsaken mountain in the desert.
Then Krauthammer skips uncharacteristically off into la-la land:
We must reduce oil consumption. The easiest way to do it is simply to artificially raise the price of oil — i.e., tax it.
Oil is currently selling at about $30 a barrel. Slap, say, a $5 (or $10 — the bazaar is open) tax on every imported barrel. And most important, keep the new price — let’s say $35 — as a floor. The world market price is likely to fall as Iraqi oil comes online, as Venezuela stabilizes and as Russian and Caspian producers ramp up production.
This presents a wonderful opportunity to capture the fall in oil prices in the form of taxes. Say oil drops to $20 a barrel. Raise the import fee to $15 a barrel, so the consumer keeps paying $35 a barrel net. The windfall goes to the U.S. Treasury.
Kids, of all the stupid-ass ways I can think of to reduce oil consumption, this has to be the stupidest-assedist. Sending five or ten of 15 bucks to Washington for every barrel of oil we import is like, in the wise words of P.J. O’Rourke, “giving whisky and car keys to teenage boys.”
If you give that money to Congress, you know what those bastards will do? That’s right: They’ll spend it.
And they won’t spend it to shore up the imaginary Social Security Trust Fund. They won’t put it away for a day when it’s raining airliners on Manhattan again. And they certainly won’t pay down the debt or reduce taxes (much).
We’ll get more protection for snail-darters. (I first typed “snail-daters,” then fixed it, but realized that under Krauthammer’s plan, they’ll probably get subsidized, too.) There will be cash giveaways to cash-strapped oil importers economically harmed by the new oil tax. Ford and GM will stick their hands out, too, so they can (they’ll claim) patriotically research more alternate-fuel vehicles. We’ll even get Free SARS for Seniors or SARS-Free Seniors or something.
If Krauthammer’s wish comes true, they’ll be toasting and drinking in Washington like the patrons of a drag show when the singer launches into the big finale of “It’s Raining Men.”
If things get so bad that we really, honestly, have to make a big dent in our oil imports (and, let’s be honest, drilling in Alaska won’t cover the difference), then do something sincerely stupid, like applying CAFE standards to SUVs. Or maybe go half-cynically stupid, and give government-rebate checks to people who buy hybrid-powered cars.
But please, please, people — don’t start sending free money to our elected representatives. They’ll just use it to buy more votes.