Perhaps only liberals believe David Frum is a conservative, but by any measure he's not a leftie. The former special assistant to President George W. Bush wrote a column for CNN last week that says that getting off of oil will be expensive and "will involve huge dislocations in American lifestyles and business." He also called hydrogen fuel cell cars and solar panels "magic machines."

Frum is right that both solar and hydrogen technologies are pricey, but they're most certainly not magic. They work, but they're not ready (i.e., cheap enough) for everyone just yet. Frum is more on target when he writes:
People will make such changes only if they feel a strong incentive to do so: most typically, if they believe that higher oil prices have arrived for keeps.
So a politician who wished to move America away from oil would begin by saying something like: "$4 a gallon gasoline is here forever. Even if the price of oil on world markets declines, we'll impose extra taxes here at home. Make your plans accordingly."
He continues (and if you've ever looked for a conservative arguing for a tax increase, this is pretty close):
We want to get the country off oil? Tax it. (Politicians may not wish to say it, but their advisers can at least think it.) Then liberate people to find their own best alternative – and incentivize industry to develop alternatives that make sense at the new higher price. And be prepared to argue candidly and straightforwardly in the marketplace of ideas why this new tax is right and justified.
If not, then kindly please spare us the grand speeches about how the status quo is the thing you will not accept. It is precisely the thing you are accepting.
Thoughts? Thanks to Larz L. for the tip!

[Source: CNN | Image: alancleaver_2000 - C.C. License 2.0]


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