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6425Re: [hreg] Continental Airlines offers carbon offsetting program

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  • chasmauch@aol.com
    Jun 1, 2007
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      Of course we are all aware that the government usually makes a mess when they try to regulate things, but I still say "free markets" cannot exist without a certain amount of government "interference", especially in the oil business. To begin with, John D Rockefeller's Standard Oil was rapidly gobbling up the whole industry back in the old days and would have had a vertical cartel from wellhead to gas pump if the antitrust laws had not broken up his little playhouse. The banks collapsed during the depression and people lost all faith in the system until the government created the FDIC and offered some security to the depositors. When the savings and loan industry was deregulated the gentlemen who owned it commenced to steal everything that was not bolted down and it finally cost the taxpayers half a trillion dollars to clean up that mess. Pure food and drug laws, air and water pollution controls - there are all kinds of examples of how the "free market" has had to be restrained and regulated to protect the greater public interest.
      To rely on free markets to develop needed things does not always work. The Internet was developed with government money and those presently using it to make billions of dollars consider themselves to be free marketeers but clearly are not. Same for nuclear power - developed entirely by the government. Highways and other infrastructure critical to private enterprise were not the result of private efforts, and neither were the laws governing contracts and other business transactions without which business could not be easily done. Many books have been written on all this, of course, but I believe the bottom line is that "free enterprise" could not exist without tax support and regulations, which usually are not done in the best way and are often downright counterproductive but nevertheless totally necessary.
      Our energy policy is not simply a matter of who can make the most money in the most efficient way - it is an integral part of our national security which is dependent on our foreign policy (no matter how badly that is being mishandled at present) and therefore inevitably a political as well as an economic problem - maybe even more so. Like many other things that clearly impact our lives, there appears to be little we can do to influence the situation, other than educate ourselves as best we can and maybe do some brainstorming about the fix we are in. It might seem best to let the market handle it, but that will not happen - it is too serious and there is too much money and political power involved. Our government no longer represents the average citizen, if it ever did - it has been totally captured by big money and various special interests. Unless and until we figure out how to recapture it, we will remain at the mercy of those special interests that have little or no interest in our concerns or the national wellbeing. A sad commentary on the state of our great democracy, but there it is.
      In a message dated 6/1/2007 6:23:12 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, edsarlls@... writes:

      I agree.
      If the free market gets it wrong they go broke.
      If the government gets it wrong they just increase taxes to make it last longer.
      Ed Sarlls
      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Friday, June 01, 2007 10:58 AM
      Subject: RE: [hreg] Continental Airlines offers carbon offsetting program

      I have much more confidence in the “free market” than in any intervention this group or anyone else (ESPECIALLY our government) might want to do.

      If we reduce energy consumption etc. through legislation or high consumption taxes, don’t we just in effect subsidize China, India and other developing countries to use that energy more cheaply to even more effectively take away U.S. manufacturing jobs and for our nation to become even further indebted to them (our huge trade imbalance and foreign debt load is going to ruin us someday, maybe soon)? 

      It seems like this would only work if the alternative energy was in fact the more economically attractive choice, and then the Chinese, Indians etc would compete with us on equal terms energy-wise.  But that means we have to trust the free market to get us to that point.  i.e., when the cost of fossil fuels increases enough, and/or cost of renewables decreases enough, to where it is “naturally” preferred to switch to renewables, the free market will drive the change with or without help.  (Help may accelerate the process slightly, but can’t succeed in the long run if the basic economics aren’t there).

      Seems to me the best groups like us can do is support the R&D and development of alternative business models etc. to make renewables more economically competitive with fossil fuels.  Campaigning for research is probably OK, though even here I think we put too much faith in government intervention (look at the amount of venture capital pouring into alternative energy today; if the market thinks it looks promising, the money will come from the “free market”).  Campaigning for interventionist energy policy changes that attempt to dictate our energy choices arbitrarily and unilaterally strikes me as short-sighted and futile (that’s what was wrong with Kyoto ).

      A great example of why I prefer the free market is ethanol.  Not so long ago the activitists on this group were pushing it.  We experiment with biofuels.  Nothing wrong with that—as individual experimentation, and for small-scale recycling of waste McDonald’s oil etc.  But now everyone is concerned about the consequences to food supplies.  The underlying reality is that corn-based ethanol is approximately energy neutral, so makes little sense except to farmers and ag-industry players who are heavily subsidized.  But let’s be honest:  the farm states have long had subsidies, but they have been decreasing over the years.  This new infusion of pork couldn’t have happened if the green activitists hadn’t provided so much political “cover” through their campaigning for renewables.  i.e., some may complain that this ethanol policy is a cynical ploy by the Bush administration to look green while protecting big energy interests, but I’d say the activitists kind of got what they deserved.  When you ask for intervention, you may not always like the results, especially when you haven’t done your homework in science and economics.  Politics is ugly.  So is the free market.  But I prefer the latter, as in the long run I think it gets the right answers more often.


      From: hreg@yahoogroups. com [mailto:hreg@ yahoogroups. com] On Behalf Of chasmauch@aol. com
      Sent: Friday, June 01, 2007 9:31 AM
      To: hreg@yahoogroups. com
      Subject: Re: [hreg] Continental Airlines offers carbon offsetting program

      And speaking of gasoline going through the roof - I'm afraid we haven't seen anything yet. We not only import over 60% of our oil these days, the front page headline article in the Chronicle today reports that due to a shortage of refining capacity, we now are importing 11% of the refined gasoline we use. That is really scary, since we all remember how a couple of major hurricanes in the Gulf last year disrupted supplies. The price didn't go up much - there just wasn't any gas available when everyone tried to top off their tanks.

      There is an obvious trainwreck situation rapidly bearing down upon us and we should be taking emergency steps to deal with it now, but we still are not treating our energy situation as a critical threat to our national security and our whole society. We need a comprehensive energy policy to reduce consumption, go to alternatives and renewables, cut pollution, and generally get the public up to speed on the energy situation - but there is no sense of urgency about this except complaints about high prices. I'm afraid when demand exceeds supply and the "free market" takes over (which could easily happen this summer) it will be a really ugly scene. But as usual we probably won't take action until the crisis hits. Any suggestions about what this group could or should try to do?

      Charlie Mauch

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      In a message dated 5/31/2007 8:57:31 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, Dans1@... writes:

      Yep  your right  they did kill the High Speed rail system and now is when we really need it. with Gas going through the roof.

      Dan S.

      -----Original Message-----
      From: hreg@yahoogroups. com [mailto:hreg@ yahoogroups. com]On Behalf Of Robert Johnston
      Sent: Thursday, May 31, 2007 10:31 PM
      To: hreg@yahoogroups. com
      Subject: RE: [hreg] Continental Airlines offers carbon offsetting program

      Ah, but you may recall they are the ones that gunned down the Texas high speed rail system.  Or would that have traveled half full?  (I’ll bet not, after 9/11, when Houston-Dallas is hardly worth flying anymore due to the check-in time requirements) .

      Robert Johnston


      See what's free at AOL.com.
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