Nationalize the Energy Industry?
Energy is a hot political topic for both the Left and the Right, but like most political topics, sound economics is replaced by political/emotional rhetoric. So it is with the case of energy. MarxistMax, a blogger I’ve sparred with before, is now calling for the energy industry to be completely nationalized by the government. This comes after a big long rant on fracking, a new process to gather oil (which he kindly details in the linked post far better than I can).
He makes the case that fracking is just another way of “violating and exploiting our natural environment” and that “we know and we have known for a very long time that renewables must be developed soon.”
Let me first say that I don’t know the first thing about fracking; I am not an environmental scientist (and neither is MarxistMax, to my knowledge), so the best that either one of us could do with regards to climate change is to regurgitate old talking points that various intellectuals have spoon-fed us. Bearing that fact in mind, you can understand my total lack of interest in the climate change debate.
But, I will say this much; if there is absolutely anything to the climate change claims, i.e., that CO2 is getting into the atmosphere and creating this “greenhouse” effect that is making our planet warmer and warmer, then the only entity that can be blamed for this is the government itself. If you don’t believe me, consider this: who created the excess demand for oil by creating such infrastructure as the massive inter-American highway system, the interstate highway system, more roads on the basis of job creation, etc.?
The answer of course is the government. They created almost (with a few notable exceptions) all of the transportation infrastructure, which increases the demand for cars, and increases the demand for oil. Climate change, if the stories the environmentalists tell us are all true as stated, is merely the unintended consequence of government action.
Now the government has taken to investing in such things as wind farms, solar energy, etc., in an effort to create alternative, renewable energy sources. Unfortunately, all of these have their own environmental trade-offs. Wind-farms, thought to be environmentally harmless and highly touted by the environmentalists, are upsetting the ecosystem by killing thousands upon thousands of birds each year. Solar energy, also highly touted by environmentalists, has proven itself to not be as harmless as they thought. To make the solar energy situation even worse, consumers of solar energy panels are being told that they can’t even buy what brand of solar energy panels they want, unless they’re willing to pay a punitive tariff (considering that Obama is politically invested in American solar companies through the stimulus package, it is safe to say that there is some backroom shenanigans going on here).
Geothermal power, yet another highly-touted clean energy alternative, you guessed it, its own set of environmental consequences. And of course this goes without saying anything regarding nuclear power.
This idea that somehow government investment into alternative energy sources are going to have hardly any environmental consequences of their own has been empirically proven wrong.
Now, let’s get into the real problem I have with MarxistMax’s post; namely, his call for the energy industry to be completely nationalized.
Quote from MarxistMax: “Proponents of the introduction of Fracking to the UK tend to rely on the argument that it will drive prices down, and that it will give the UK energy security for the forseeable future.
They are frightened of renewables. They think of them as the pet project of hippies, vastly inefficient, costly and against market principles. They think that introducing fracking will drop prices due to market mechanisms, creating a better country for all.
To them I say this: energy production and consumption will always be problems until the government nationalises the industry, and when it does, it should spend its time investing in our future, and not wasting valuable years on fracking.”
And thus, according to MarxistMax, the same government that is subsidizing alternative energy should instead nationalize the entire industry, and oversee the entire process of energy production and consumption. Of course, using the exact same logic, I could put forth the following case:
Americans consume far too many calories. The junk foods that we consume, usually in massive excess, range from twinkies to ding-dongs, and this says nothing about American fast food. These companies have proven that they don’t care about the long-term health of the people at large. Therefore, in the interest of society as a whole, the government should nationalize the entire food industry, and directly oversee the production and consumption of food.
MarxistMax is operating on a very slippery slope, and I pray he realizes it soon.