Economic Policy, Energy and Otherwise
By Arnold Kling
Megan McArdle points to Scott Adams
At the risk of oversimplifying, our current energy policy in The United States involves shooting bearded people.
At the risk of stepping on a funny line, I would say that our energy policy is quite the opposite. We have this deluded idea that a confrontation with bearded people can be avoided if we subsidize ethanol instead of oil. (Adams does not seem to be aware that in our infinite wisdom we tax sugar from Brazil, which otherwise might make ethanol cheaper. Our ethanol strategy is a farm subsidy, not an energy policy.)
Look, I hope that the bearded people simmer down, so that we do not have so many confrontations with them. But of all the factors affecting the likelihood of more violent confrontations, I would say that our level of oil usage is pretty low on the list (and in fact the sign of the effect may be indeterminate).
I would describe our energy policy, including Adams’, as shooting ourselves in the foot.
On another policy note, one of Megan’s favorite professors, Austan Goolsbee, gets some love from George Will. Did Barack Obama, for whom Goolsbee is an adviser, encourage this column in order to enhance his chances for the nomination? Or did Goolsbee take the initiative himself?
In general, I think that the best thing that an economist can do for a Presidential candidate is to stay out of the public eye, and advise the candidate quietly. I mean, it’s fine to let other economists know who you’re working for, because it might affect our vote. But otherwise…
I can’t imagine that Greg Mankiw thinks his greatest value added has come when he was prominent in the news.