Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Thomas Friedman is Right (as usual)

The McCain-Clinton gasoline tax proposals made him so mad he came out of hiding to write "Dumb as We Wanna Be" today in the NY Times. Thank goodness. He has serious campaign frustrations (I bolded the stuff I resonated with):

But here’s what’s scary: our problem is so much worse than you think. We have no energy strategy. If you are going to use tax policy to shape energy strategy then you want to raise taxes on the things you want to discourage — gasoline consumption and gas-guzzling cars — and you want to lower taxes on the things you want to encourage — new, renewable energy technologies. We are doing just the opposite.

Are you sitting down?

Few Americans know it, but for almost a year now, Congress has been bickering over whether and how to renew the investment tax credit to stimulate investment in solar energy and the production tax credit to encourage investment in wind energy. The bickering has been so poisonous that when Congress passed the 2007 energy bill last December, it failed to extend any stimulus for wind and solar energy production. Oil and gas kept all their credits, but those for wind and solar have been left to expire this December. I am not making this up. At a time when we should be throwing everything into clean power innovation, we are squabbling over pennies...

While all the presidential candidates were railing about lost manufacturing jobs in Ohio, no one noticed that America’s premier solar company, First Solar, from Toledo, Ohio, was opening its newest factory in the former East Germany — 540 high-paying engineering jobs — because Germany has created a booming solar market and America has not.

Thank you Thomas Friedman for still telling the truth. None of our politicians give a hoot about reducing dependence on foreign oil or increasing renewable energy. They just say they do on TV, and try to convince you that their opponents do not.

*Update* Greg Mankiw has linked a couple articles pointing out that you can't find an economist anywhere who supports these proposals. Last night on PBS Newshour I watched Len Burman from the Tax Policy Center. I thought his speaking abilities were mediocre, but he writes Mankiw to say:
Yesterday I was on the NewsHour to talk about the gas tax holiday. I asked if there was another guest and the producer said, "We tried, but we couldn't find anyone to argue the other side (that the gas tax holiday made sense)."

1 comment:

Keith Walters said...

Great post . . . I agree politics in America have become about as useless as a high school popularity contest.