117_1750

 

 

In last week’s post, I asked what seems to be a reasonable, fair, and obvious observation and inquiry in light of assertions offered by the author of the second article serving as the focal point of this series:

Imagine if we actually engaged in meaningful conversations with ‘the opposition’ which involved honorable considerations and discussions of both the merits and the disadvantages of policy proposals and the many factors in play before solutions were proposed! Who might benefit? Who might not?

 

DISTRACTIONS & MISDIRECTION

 

Undaunted by reality or necessity, that same author then attacked energy policy proposals from another direction, using by now familiar tactics [a dollop or two of fear mixed with standard party-line economic contentions]:

[A]s if to ensure more petroleum industry bankruptcies, President Obama wants to slap a $10.25 tax on every barrel of produced oil, and use the revenues to bolster his climate change and renewable energy agenda. Under her presidency, says Hillary Clinton, a ban on oil, gas and coal production from federal lands would be a ‘done deal’ and the United States would have ‘at least 50% clean or carbon-free energy by 2050.’
Such policies would kill millions of jobs, torpedo the manufacturing renaissance, eliminate the assumed revenues by strangling the oil production that generates them, impact croplands and wildlife habitats, and prolong America’s economic doldrums. They would hammer poor, minority and blue-collar families, which spend much higher portions of their budgets on energy than do wealthy households.
Renewable energy schemes defy the laws of nature and economics. Government commands cannot make apples fall upward from Newton’s tree – or turn economic losers into success stories.

Finite resources might also mess with conservative policy expectations and assertions. Examining the other side of those arguments might do so as well. The $10.25 tax which horrified the author can be assessed from more than one perspective. It’s intended to “fund a $32 billion annual investment in low-emission vehicles, public transit, and urban planning.” The author of that comment then offers additional considerations to provide a broader understanding, in contrast to knee-jerk opposition:

A carbon tax like the $10-a-barrel proposal is simple, which is why the oil industry hates it. The chief downside is the cost. About 25 cents a gallon would be passed on to the consumer, more than double the current federal tax, which hasn’t been raised since 1993. But that’s a bargain compared to the rest of the world. Americans fork over an average of 49 cents per gallon in all taxes. Nearly every other industrialized country slaps on $2.50 to $4.00 per gallon in taxes.
Complaints by Republicans and pin-striped executives, who suddenly discovered the plight of the working poor, conveniently ignore key elements of Obama’s plan and the current economic picture. Foremost, the $10 tax would be phased in over five years. This would tack on about $40 a year to the average household budget. Meanwhile, the dizzying plunge in oil prices has saved families nearly $1,100 a year since 2012.
Gas taxes are regressive. Families in the bottom 20 percent pay four more in fuel costs than the highest 20 percent as a share of household budget. So the proposal also mentions assistance to relieve energy cost burdens on households.

 

A DIFFERENT VIEWPOINT

 

So there’s that. As for employment concerns, there is—surprise!—another perspective, with an added bonus of solid research in support:

What about jobs? Extractive industries currently employ nearly 200,000 Americans and pay some employees as much as $42.90 an hour. These jobs are a valid concern. The U.S. unemployment rate is finally down to about 5 percent. Surely we don’t want all those people put out of work.
That won’t happen if we launch the renewable energy sector in sync. Economists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) have studied this topic since the early 2000s. Their research shows how a transition to renewables can lead to a post-carbon world and a fairer economy….
According to PERI, a renewable energy transition would be chock-full of jobs—about 2.7 million new ones. [PERI Co-Director Robert] Pollin is quick to point out that these jobs wouldn’t require any more public or private investment dollars, as the model the report used looked at moving current fossil-fuel investments toward renewables.
This is just one part of the equation. A transition toward clean energy would also create more new jobs than dirty energy currently does. Comparing the two sectors, Green Growth shows that renewables create an average of 12.6 jobs per $1 million in investment. Oil, coal, and gas, on the other hand, average about 10.6.
The transition away from fossil fuels would offer a wide range of jobs, Pollin explained. There will be something for people with and without high school diplomas, those who have partial college educations or college degrees, and some with post-college credentials. This means more engineers, more construction workers, more lawyers, and more truck drivers. Building the green economy requires more people per dollar of expenditure than maintaining the fossil fuel economy, he said.
Labor-intensive employment sectors, like renewables, can decrease inequality by creating employment opportunities for the poor. The fossil fuel industry, on the other hand, invests more on machines and tools than hiring employees.

Which position is correct? As is true in most matters of great complexity, there are undoubtedly both accurate and questionable conclusions drawn, and thus not the Manichean ideal conservatives prefer. Either-or does not work well in anything beyond the simplest of conflicts. So why not discuss the merits and drawbacks of both viewpoints and findings so that we all move at least one step forward?

Convenient as it is to ascribe a wide range of nefarious motivations and objectives to the progressive/left side of the great divide, a bit of thoughtful consideration and a willingness to listen to the what and the why might lead to some surprising and significantly different assessments about the ill-defined “leftist agenda”—or whatever we’re calling it these days. Shocking, but we actually love America, too, and would very much prefer a peaceful and prosperous future for ourselves, our children, and our fellow citizens, even—gasp!—those on the Right.

There’s a large middle largely unoccupied these days. We might consider the merits of visiting it more often. How much more potential harm with fewer problem-solving options later on should we pursue?

I’ll wrap up this series next Friday.

 

 

~ ~ ~

 

Note to readers: In addition to my other blogs and writings at richardturcotte.com, I invite you to enjoy some brief excepts from my eBook political thriller:

The Tretiak Agenda

I’ll be posting them [here] beginning next Wednesday, June 15, and will continue doing so weekly throughout the summer

 

 

~ My Photo: scenic view from Peter Island [BVI] – 11.25.06

 

 

We face a choice going forward. There’s a kind of false dichotomy, a false choice that we’re being presented between policies on the left or policies on the right. It’s not left or right, it’s forward or backward. It’s a choice between investing in the future, leaving a better future for the next generation just like parents and grandparents did for us, or ignoring these hard choices and sentencing the next generation to a lower standard of living, to fewer opportunities, and a future that we could do better by. [With apologies for prior incorrect attribution: former] USDOT Deputy Secretary John Porcari

Looking Left and Right:
Inspiring Different Ideas,
Envisioning Better Tomorrows

 

Peak Oil Matters offers observations and insights about the realities of declining fossil fuel production, and its impact on our future well-being