Energy Independence. For the Living.

A brief query on the now fading-fast Schiavo situation (Terri will doubtless be dead by early next week, which may set the Upper West Side into apoplectic joy). That query: given that Florida law expressly prohibits assisted suicides, how can Judge Greer not himself be in violation of that law by including an obscene provision in the order denying the Schindler family stay requests which not merely prohibits insertion of a feeding tube into Terri Schiavo, but prohibits all attempts to feed Terri food or water at all? More troubling still given that some nurses insist that with therapy (or quite possibly even without it) Terri might be able to swallow. While Terri Schiavo has the right to refuse medical care (the basis for the whole case), she DOES NOT have the right to have others assist in her suicide.
Well, no matter. This is not a case where anyone will trouble themselves with anything as uncool as “the facts”, so I apologize in advance for attempting to introduce anything resembling “the facts” into the debate. We’ll continue tonight’s liberal heresy (i.e. actual programs favored by most liberals but politically inconceivable for Democrats to do anything about because they don’t relate to abortion) with “energy independence”.
Here, my plan is actually remarkably simple. It’s called “the free market”. We are told, of course, that it is “the free market” that keeps us wedded to delicious and tasty oil (especially from politically unstable and otherwise troublesome
places like Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Texas), because “the free market” renders alternative sources of energy (solar and wind are important, of course, but are still actually minor compared to the one I’m talking about– actual conservation through efficient use of energy) just too darned expensive to implement.
Well, Europeans famously pay two to three times what we do for gasoline. Am I suggesting that we just willy nilly tax gasoline for the sake of taxing it? No, I actually dislike gratuitous taxes as much as the next guy. BUT– our use of petroleum, and especially our overwhelming thirst for foreign petroleum, imposes a cost on the rest of us which is simply not reflected in the below market price we pay for oil. Specifically, I would estimate that the majority of our defense budget (said defense budget being around 20% of federal spending, or 4-5% GDP all by itself) is devoted to maintaining the protection of dictatorial theocracies in the Middle East, and of late, to wars of aggression against secular states in the region. We won’t even count military action or aid involving such diverse places as Indonesia, Nigeria, Venezuela and the like, where we get oil. No, no, no. And we won’t talk about social externalities such as air pollution caused asthma and attendant health costs.
No. No.
I’m just talking about the costs– overall– of maintaining our free-flowing oil supply. The direct monetary costs– not the political costs or even indirect economic costs such as dissenters from Saudi Arabia who decide to crash airliners into our cities. Nope.
Just one simple move: shift the costs of defending Middle East oil which I would estimate at half the defense budget, directly to the oil pump (obviously, this would include all petroleum products, such as fuel oil, jet fuel, diesel, as well as your 92 octane premium). BUT… those costs would not have to come out of our general revenue… so, we could have a corresponding general income tax reduction in the range of 10%. My scheme would be “revenue neutral”: money saved from income taxes would be available for the higher petro-taxes, and on average, most people would start out even, though have quite an incentive to reduce their petroleum consumption.
I am quite certain that by doing this, other sources of energy (syn-fuels, bio-mass, wind, solar and most importantly, efficiency and conservation) and technologies for implementing them would quickly take hold. Like yesterday. Some kind of “invisible hand” or something. Again, oil-industry-whore Republicans (especially from Texas and that part of the world) would have no interest in this at all, and as once again I can’t relate this to either abortion or euthenasia in general, the Democrats won’t have much interest either.
But I can keep dreaming.