But there was one thing that bothered me, and that thing quite a lot. She said,
Starting in January, in a McCain-Palin administration, we're going to lay more pipelines... build more nuclear plants... create jobs with clean coal... and move forward on solar, wind, geothermal and other alternative sources.She talks as if the natural resources in America – oil, coal, natural gas, and so on — belong to the American people as a whole. They don't. She talks as if the Federal Government is going to do something to get them out of the ground and to market. They won't. They can't.
Resources, when they are of any value to anyone and not just stuff lying in the Earth, are owned by someone or no one. If that someone isn't a private owner or lessee, they do no one any good whatever. The U.S. government agencies have no business structure for extracting oil. They don't operate wells; they don't build or own pipelines. (The Trans-Alaska pipeline, for example, is owned and operated by a consortium of BP, Phillips, Exxon-Mobil, and others.)
Regrettably, the view that the government is somehow central to the creation of wealth is horribly muddled at best, when it isn't downright vicious.
The Feds have only one useful role here: the protection of property rights, and they don't do that one very well. Witness, for example, how ready and willing they are to hobble the energy production industry even further on behalf of an unproven hypothesis, AGW, that is even now crumbling under the onslaught of new evidence.
'Americans' don't own the oil off the coast of Louisiana. Right now, it belongs to no one, made off-limits by Federal regulations. That is one of the reasons that hybrid government businesses of foreign countries are going after it. They are not bound by U.S. law and couldn't care less what Washington wants. So long as they remain outside of U.S. territorial waters — which modern oil drilling technology allows them to do and still get the oil — they don't have to care.
The same could be said about the extraction of coal, creation of nuclear power plants, manufacturing and erection of solar panel or windmill farms, or any other method of large-scale energy production. The Federal Government cannot produce any of these, nor sell the products. They are not in the energy production industry.
The belief that the government is a steward for property owned collectively by 'the people' is even worse from legal and philosophical perspectives.
The best it can do is establish a more rational legal environment that defines and protects the rights and responsibilities of those who can. But that, so far as I can tell, is not being talked about on either of the two popular sides of the debate.
I don't think it's a mere misuse of language, either.
Both sides have come to believe in the fascist view that the public owns the resources, which the government (as its representative) allows private businesses to develop 'for the people'. Letting businesses carve off some profit is merely a way to incentivize them to do so, not something that is theirs by right for having done it.
Nancy Pelosi explicitly said recently,
"If [Republicans] want to drill offshore, we'll say, 'OK,' " said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat. "You want to drill in the outer continental shelf? Let's have a discussion and a change of the relationship between our oil, which is owned by the American people, the desire of Big Oil for us to subsidize their drilling, and us not to - the American people not getting the benefit of the profits."Apart from the absurd way she puts it (Republicans aren't going to be drilling anything), there is again that view — here stated openly — that the oil "is owned by the American people."
That view is as dangerous as it is false... a discussion I take up tomorrow.