One small problem, though…

John Kerry is surely right to say that curing the American addiction to Middle Eastern oil is an essential precursor to developing a sensible foreign policy. But his promise of “energy independence from Mideast oil in the next 10 years” is eerily reminiscent of Nixon’s.

A former colleague who served on Nixon’s energy independence task force reports, “The first thing we had to do in order to make ‘energy independence within ten years’ a feasible goal was to redefine ‘energy independence.’ The next thing was to redefine ‘ten years.’ “

The only way — short of a fusion breakthrough — to get this country independent of imported oil is a carbon tax or gasoline tax or oil-import fee that would get our gasoline prices to European levels. That’s a great idea, but it ain’t gonna happen, and Kerry ain’t gonna propose it. (He’s still taking heat from the Bushies on his sensible vote for a 50-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax more than a decade ago.)

[The right-wingers who pretend not to understand why raising gasoline prices through taxation — which means we get to keep the money — is better than having them raised for us by the oil cartel — thus sending the money to Riyadh — clearly hate the American government worse than they do the Saudi government. I suppose it would be too rude to suggest that they move, but might I politely ask them to shut up?]

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

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