June 2nd, 2008 by Rightsideup

I just read this piece by Mark Steyn, one of my favorite commentators, on Congress’s latest attempt to “fix” our oil problems, and found myself in complete agreement with everything he said. Here’s an excerpt:

“It shall be illegal and a violation of this Act,” declared the House of Representatives, “to limit the production or distribution of oil, natural gas, or any other petroleum product … or to otherwise take any action in restraint of trade for oil, natural gas, or any petroleum product when such action, combination, or collective action has a direct, substantial, and reasonably foreseeable effect on the market, supply, price, or distribution of oil, natural gas, or other petroleum product in the United States.”

Er, okay. But, before we start suing distant sheikhs in exotic lands for violating the NOPEC act, why don’t we start by suing Congress? After all, who “limits the production or distribution of oil” right here in the United States by declaring that there’ll be no drilling in the Gulf of Florida or the Arctic National Mosquito Refuge?

Precisely. Congress wants to “help” us with this problem? Don’t intervene more, or posture because you know that no intervention is really going to help. Get out of the way! Lift the restrictions on drilling and refining and shipping oil and oil products here in the US. Allow the oil companies to get more of the stuff that’s just sitting there under American soil and waters waiting to be dug up and poured into someone’s SUV instead of forcing us to put up with the unnaturally high prices caused by OPEC’s latest squeeze on supply. Ronald Reagan famously said that the nine most terrifying words in the English language were, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” How true that is in the case of this Congress.

March 6th, 2008 by Rightsideup

Fiscal responsibility hasn’t been mentioned much in this year’s presidential campaign outside of discussion of the Bush tax cuts (which McCain voted against initially but has since supported). But it’s got to be one of the biggest issues that Republicans need to address if they want to retake Congress. The fact that they’ve been so weak on fiscal responsibility (i.e. lowering government spending and taxes) has allowed the Democrats to neutralise the traditional advantage Republicans have on the economy (and even overtake them in this regard in some polls) and has been a big part of the reason they retook Congress two years ago.

I think Romney should have gone after the Republican Congress harder on this – it would have been a nice stick to beat John McCain with since he’s been right there in the thick of it (though arguably not one of the worst culprits). But I think he was hamstrung in this and in other matters by the fact that he wanted to be supportive of President Bush, who hasn’t done the Republicans any favors in this department either aside from those tax cuts, never vetoing a single pork-laden spending bill during the entire time Republicans were in charge.

At this point McCain needs to make this a campaign issue, but the Republicans (planning to stay) in Congress also need to really take it on board and ensure they send a strong message on the issue to voters between now and November.

Ed Morrissey (erstwhile of Captain’s Quarters, now at Hot Air) has written several good pieces on this whole issue over the last few weeks which are all worth reading. The Republicans have had a mixed record even over that short period, but they really need to tighten up and close ranks on this issue. They also need to put some serious reformers in prominent committee positions to give them some clout to clean things up. At this point, it’s 50/50 at best as to whether they’ll make any headway on this point in time for this fall’s elections.

February 13th, 2008 by Rightsideup

This has been well covered today, but one of the better summaries is here. In essence, scientists have discovered that the use of biofuels, which was to have helped in the global warming problem and has therefore been encouraged mandated by the government, is actually worse for the environment than what it’s replacing. The problem is that biofuels are derived from plants and other naturally growing materials, and harvesting those contributes far more to CO2 in the atmosphere than any study on the benefits of biofuels has previously taken into account.

So, can we please slow down just a little bit with our solutions to climate change? Even if there is “consensus” about the reality and causes of climate change, it appears we have rather further to go until there is consensus about which measures will help rather than hinder the cause.

This will also be an interesting test case of whether government can ever reverse itself and lift regulation it has imposed – it seems obvious at this point that it’s the right thing to do, but I have a sneaking suspicion it won’t happen…

February 12th, 2008 by Rightsideup

It appears that Obama may actually have a policy we can really associate with him, albeit one which seems to be being pursued more aggressively by another Senator keen to use his name just at the moment (no prizes for guessing why). The Hot Air blog highlights an interview with Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio published by the Nation in which he states the following:

I’ve talked to Barack a lot about his Patriot Corporation Act, which is not trade per se, but it’s certainly part of the economic package around globalization. The Patriot Corporation Act has not gotten the attention that I would hope it would. But, basically it says that if you play by the rules, if you pay decent wages, health benefits, pension; do your production here; don’t resist unionization on neutral card check, then you will be designated a “Patriot Corporation” and you will get tax advantages and some [preference] on government contracts.

So we have something Barack Obama apparently believes in enough that he was willing to put pen to paper (or have his staffers put pen to paper) to craft legislation to make it a reality. And is it the kind of soaring, high-minded proposal we’ve all come to expect based on that wonderful rhetoric of his? Er, no.

It’s clear where the Nation’s own William Greider stands on this – he thinks it’s wonderful. But it’s just a tiny bit shortsighted, isn’t it? For starters, it ignores the main reasons why companies offshore and outsource in the first place – high labor costs (thank you Democrats), lots of burdensome regulation (thank you Democrats), high taxes (thank you Democrats) etc. etc. It reminds me of the experience we’ve all had sometimes – we have a table or chair where one of the legs is short, so we trim the others to make them symmetrical, but then we realise we overdid it, and now we have to go back to the original one and shorten that a bit too. Pretty soon we realise the table or chair is now about the right height for a garden gnome and give up and throw it away. The Democrats’ tendency to want to intervene throughout the economy will lead to the same result – one bit of tinkering leads to another and before long we’ve completely hamstrung the entire business sector and have nothing but a mountain of unemployment and a recession to show for it.

I’m just glad we finally know where Obama stands on something, and it’s particularly wonderful that it highlights the heavily left-leaning, interventionist philosophy we all know is hiding beneath the “yes we cans” and the unity message. Now if we could just infiltrate the mainstream media enough to actually get them to report on this stuff…