So, whose energy policy makes more sense? The “wrinkly, white haired guy” or the “skinny black guy?” (Oh yeah, we can’t call Senator Obama skinny anymore, its racist. According to Slate’s Timothy Noah, calling a black person “skinny” is a “coded discussion on race” since it “invites people to dwell on his physical attributes” the most obvious of which is his skin color.) Anyway, both candidates agree that we need to become “energy independent.” Of course we do. The question is how we get there.
Senator Obama wants:
-- immediate conservation measures, like driving less, taking the bus, and filling up our under-inflated tires. (Didn’t we try that during the Carter years? And did it really work then?)
-- legislation creating a windfall profits tax on the profits made by oil companies to fund $1000 rebates to energy consumers. (Been there, done that, and it didn’t work the first time. By the way, isn’t this a classic move to directly redistribute wealth? I’d rather take my share of the oil companies’ profits through increased dividends through my mutual funds shares, thank you.)
-- to release 70 million barrels of oil from our strategic reserves. (Why? Those reserves are for a national emergency. I know I hate paying high gas prices, but are higher prices truly a short-term national emergency or something we must deal with long-term?)
-- finally, to increase the emphasis on developing new technology including clean coal technology, and collection of power from solar and wind sources (something I’m all for), but not including nuclear power. (Why not? We are no longer living in the 70s; nuclear technology has developed along with the rest of the world.)
Senator McCain wants:
-- a short-term rebate on Federal gas taxes. (A good idea to immediately lower the cost of gas, although the loss to the treasury would eventually need to be made up.)
-- to open up our coastline to offshore drilling. (Other companies, including China, are tapping into that oil just off our shore; why shouldn’t we?)
-- to offer a $300 million prize for major advancements in technology for hybrid or plug-in electric cars to make them even more fuel efficient and marketable. (Encouraging technological development, by offering prizes or tax incentives, seems to me to be a really good idea to me.)
-- to encourage technological development in wind, hydroelectric, solar, and other alternative sources of energy. (Again, a great long-term solution, but we also need short- and medium-term solutions, too.)
-- finally, to build 45 new nuclear power plants. (Wonderful idea! Just ask the French.)
OK, so what’s the same? It looks like both candidates understand that we need to develop technology and alternative fuel sources. So both candidates more or less agree on the long-long-term solution. For the long- to mid-term solution, Senator McCain sees us using our domestic off-shore oil supplies and using nuclear technology to generate electricity. Senator Obama wants only to look at clean coal technology, wind, and solar power. He would limit any solution to those that the environmental lobby consider “green.” I’m all for proper stewardship of the environment, and we have to balance how we use our resources with the need for those resources, but the resources are there to use; particularly when we can do so safely, effectively, and in an environmentally conscious way.
There are even more differences between the candidates when you look at their proposed short-term solutions. Senator Obama would also release oil from our strategic reserves, potentially impacting national security. Those reserves are there for a reason, and absent that reason they shouldn’t be disturbed! Additionally, Senator McCain’s plan to suspend Federal gas taxes would immediately keep money in consumer’s pockets. Senator Obama’s plan to tax the oil companies and give a $1000 rebate to high energy consumers would still take money from gas-buying consumers, give it to the oil companies, then to the government (who would then have to decide who was a “high energy consumer”), before the government could give $1000 to those they thought deserved it (whether they deserved it or not).
Now, ask yourself, which plan makes more sense, the one proposed by the “white haired dude” or the one advocated by the “other guy?”
UPDATE It seems that there's another energy plan out there besides those of the two Presidential candidates and T. Boone Pickens. In a saterical response to a McCain campaign ad comparing Obama's celebrity to that of Paris Hilton and Brittney Spears, Paris Hilton has proposed her own energy plan. I've seen the Hilton ad, and frankly, I think its extremely funny. But what struck me most is that her proposed energy plan was pretty good. Here's what she said,
We could do limited offshore drilling with strict environmental oversight while creating tax incentives to get Detroit making hybrid and electric cars. That way the offshore drilling carries us until the new technologies kick in, which would then create new jobs and energy independence. Energy crisis solved.
According to a story on FoxNews.com, Texas Representative Micheal Burgess thinks Paris' plan is pretty good, too. He's one of the Congressmen continuing to call for a vote on energy, despite Speaker Pelosi recessing the House and turning off the lights on them. (Something we don't hear about in the mainstream media.) The McCain campaign also likes Paris' plan, calling it more substantive than Senator Obama's plan. Frankly, I think it is, too.
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