Sleep on it!

Help me out here. I am having trouble following the various solutions. The solutions to our "energy crisis".

We’re burning too much oil and gasoline, critics tell us. Soon we will run out. And we’ll all freeze, or move to Arkansas. I prefer the Caribbean.

Anyway, some in Congress now want to force car companies to make cars that get better mileage. If we drive them we will burn less gas. Which will lower the price of gas and oil. When prices fall we will use more gas and oil.

All right. Then we’ll slap new taxes on gas. Make it really expensive. When gas is really expensive we will drive less. We will buy less gas. That will reduce demand for oil. Which will bring world oil prices down. So Indians and Chinese will buy more oil and gas. Since the prices are so low.

So the amount of oil burned in the world will probably not go down at all. It will probably go up. If you don’t believe that, tell it to 2.5 billion Chinese and Indians who are dying to go for a Sunday drive.



Well, let’s slap taxes on oil firms. Excess profit taxes. If they face more taxes, they will need to sell more oil and gas. To make up some for the taxes.

They will also pass the tax on to us. We will burn less. So the oil price will go down. And world consumption will go up. Spurred by lower oil prices.

Wait a minute. How about mass transit? We will make car-driving prohibitively expensive. And we’ll subsidize all sorts of mass transit. To make it incredibly cheap.

That will cause us to drive less. Which will lower world prices for oil and gas. Lower prices will cause more people around the world to buy more. Meanwhile, our car companies will be selling fewer cars. Since we’ll be catching the bus and train more.

To counter the sales slump, the car companies will come out with cheaper cars. So more people will want to buy them at such low prices. Hmm...

How about more alternative fuels. Ethanol from corn and sugar cane. Biodiesel from switchgrass and KFC. Wind. Tidal. Solar. Captured gas from belching cows.

This will cause us to buy less oil. So oil prices will fall. So other folks around the world will see cheaper oil. And we will want to buy more. Because it has become so cheap. Turn off the windmill, Maw. Gas has fallen by a dollar.

All right. We’ll tax that oil, then. To keep its price high. We will tax every barrel that comes into the U.S. That will cut down our consumption. Turn on the windmill again, Maw.

The import tax will cause us to import a lot less. Which will lower prices on oil elsewhere in the world. So the countries we compete against will have cheaper oil and gas than we have. They already have cheaper labor. Now they will have cheaper energy too. This will allow them to make everything more cheaply than they do now. So we’ll ship more jobs overseas. To those countries that have lower energy costs.

Woe is us. Is there any way we can improve the situation? Yes. We can go home and sleep on it. And keep sleeping. In other words, we can let the markets sort it out. They will. And they will, without our help. They will do it gradually too. Supply and demand do that. Especially when governments don’t try to interfere with one or the other.

The best solution to our energy "crisis"? I propose this: Don’t just DO something. Sleep on it!

From Tom...as in Morgan.

For more columns and for Tomís radio shows (and to write to Tom): tomasinmorgan.com

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