Politics and the attending sound bites, slogans and dim thinking are soon to be laid on the Americans with a vengeance. One top slogan is “Energy Independence” that sounds good to the American mind but does, well, nothing for consumers, business or government. It’s nothing more than politicians and the press playing off of public ignorance.

The deal being offered is something like all your troubles will go away if government jumps in and somehow comes up with programs that will blank out importing fuels. At great taxpayer cost there will come more government involvement, which really becomes interference.

The facts are quite plain. Energy when considering oil is a world market. The U.S. offers money for oil and gets value for the transaction. Blaming the oil exporter, the oil company, government or others because the tools one has that need fuel to operate uses too much, is whose fault? Sure, Americans trade hundreds of billions or maybe soon a trillion dollars each year for oil, but obviously, American consumers want the oil more than the money, don’t they? A little self-reflection might be in order.

On the other hand we import fuel products for one reason. Its been less expensive than producing them here at home. That leads to another observation – I’m pretty sure than a government program to reduce imports will raise prices. About 30 years ago President Carter suggested that achieving energy independence was “the moral equivalent of war.” He called for and got funding for one of the most massive peacetime commitments of funds to develop an American alternative that wasted billions of taxpayer dollars on the “synfuel” program that died an incredibly expensive death.

Obama promises to “set America on a path to energy independence” which only can mean he is too young to remember President Carter’s boondoggle or was out when the historical record was reviewed by his advisors, if they are advising anything sensible.

John McCain isn’t doing much better. The $300 million dollar better battery prize sounds good but when the products hit the market $300 million will be a pittance compared to the profits.

The politician’s enemy in seizing control of another part of people’s lives by government activity is the market. While the mainstream press is agog at oil, much of the rest of the media is looking at alternatives, and some of us bloggers are looking at everything – the market is doing its job.

So lets talk to the market! It actually listens, responds and treats us with respect. So here’s the comment I’m suggesting:

I want twice the energy at half the price for new tools to use it that are at least double the efficiency for what I have now. That means a unit of work would cost an eighth of what it does now.

Is that even practical? In some scenarios it is, as in 100-mpg cars, but the point is to offer a goal that makes more sense than central government planned energy and fuel regulations or prizes. I want to pay less for more over time, not more taxes! I am also in something of a hurry, mind you.

OK, government can add a lot by funding more research and has already trapped itself and some industries with incentives that can’t sensibly be stopped. But science research always comes up with a few gems that pay for all the dead ends plus a lot more. But the reality is that energy and fuels are world markets, and never in history has there been such a huge market under such stress looking for new sources at better prices. It’s a stunning opportunity if anyone cares to look both at the production end and the consumption end. If governments can be contained, a great economic change and growth will come that make the digital revolution seem small by comparison.


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