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Author: FriedGreenPotato One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 442541  
Subject: Re: Stunning Obama gaffe Date: 8/4/2008 5:07 PM
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"Didn't you know, without Carter telling you, that putting on a sweater will make you warmer? That turning down your thermostat will use less eneregy? Didn't you know, without Obama telling you, that inflating your tires can save energy?"

Since 70% of the country still thinks Iraq had something to do with 9/11, even though they've been told it's untrue, and since some fair percentage of people still think Obama is a Muslim, even though he is not, clearly there is some percentage of people who don't know that inflating their tires can save energy.


Well, then, I guess he may be qualified to run a Jiffy Lube franchise.


Of course you pick on the smallest shards of what Carter said to make your point. It's pretty obvious that "putting on a sweater and turning down the thermostat" will lower your energy consumption.

The purpose of the comparison with the inflate-the-tires thing is that Obama continues to provide disturbing echoes of the ineffectual leftist wussyness that was the Carter administration. Carter somehow managed to trivialize and minimalize his bully pulpit, and a large part of that was the "sweaters 'n' thermostats" speech. We want a president who takes a larger view of the situation, not one who tells people to put on a sweater. Or inflate their tires.


You might remember that this happened at the beginning of the OPEC embargo, when for the first time in American history energy supplies were cut off and the nation was reeling from the problem. Gas lines, shortages, factories closing, remember?

There were gas lines only because the government imposed an artificial regime in which drivers could only purchase gas on "odd" or "even" days. When you impose an artificial mentality of scarcity, people panic. It happens before every report of a hurricane, or even a bad storm--people rush into Walmart and buy 500 rolls of toilet paper, etc.

The best rationing method is to simply let the market do the rationing. I don't think Bush is an idiot because oil went up to $140/bbl., nor do I think he suddenly gained 40 points on his I.Q. because it went down below $120 today.



You do the simple and obvious things at the beginning of a crisis. In World War II we collected pots and pans, and old tires. Didn't everybody know that old pots and pans were made of metal? Why didn't we just drill bigger mines and produce more ore? Well, because that takes time, and it's a lot quicker to collect old pots and pans, even though that isn't the long term solution to the problem.

The problem with your analogy is that Obama offers nothing concrete as to long term energy security, just platitudes. Using your example, he's not saying inflate your tires and let's do more drilling. Quite the opposite, he's against more drilling. Or more nuclear power plants. Or whatever.


As it turns out, Carter did much more than say "put on a sweater." He advocated a program to develop synthetic fuels, as had been done for synthetic rubber when we had a rubber shortage in 1942.

The synfuels program was a corrupt boondoggle, a complete waste of money, a failure. (Much like today's program of ethanol subsidies.)

Again: let the market operate.


He proposed funding research to find efficient ways to extract oil from the vast tar sands in Canada. He advocated nuclear power, although that was rather undercut by a little problem at Three Mile Island. He advocating weaning utilities from using oil in their boilers in favor of other means of production. He pushed through Congress consumer rebates for things like insulating homes, replacing inefficient windows, having utilities conduct energy audits to help homeowners identify the best ways to conserve. He proposed credits for installation of renewable resources, including solar and wind. Ronald Reagan, of course, famously took the demonstration solar panels down at the White House and threw them away.

You konw, Carter forgot something--he wasn't working as an R&D man for a private company. He was the President of the United States. Nothing Carter did made any difference because as we know the price of oil went to $10/bbl in 1988. At those rates alternative energy modalities are largely uneconomical in comparison with oil. What is that adjusted for inflation, maybe $20/$30/bbl in today's dollars?

Let the free market operate, if oil prices stay high, in five or ten years someone will produce a cheap and reliable electric vehicle that can be afforded by the majority of car buyers. Of course it probably won't be an American company that does it, raising a whole other set of problems.



There was much that Carter advocated, some long term, some short term solutions. As usual you take the cheap shot that he just told people to put on sweaters. Indeed he did. And doing so reduced consumption in the country by some percentage, not solving, but helping to alleviate the problem in the short term.

A small-minded solution from a small-minded man. Which is why no one took Carter seriously.


By the way, here are two statements, I wonder which you find more amusing:

Jimmy Carter: Put on a sweater and turn down the thermostat.

George Bush: If Americans can avoid going on a trip, that will reduce gas consumption.


The two statements are revealing in their difference. The Carter statement is prescriptive--it presumes to tell us what we should do. The Bush statement simply makes an observation, but is not prescriptive. It doesn't say Americans should not go on a trip.

And here's another from this administration. I wonder if you think it particular prescient:

Dick Cheney: Conservation cannot be the basis of a sound energy policy.


It's true. Conservation is useful on a "micro" level to individual consumers/companies for the purposes of cost-cutting, being more efficient, etc. But on a macro level, we cannot "conserve our way" to an acceptable level of economic growth. Assuming that we want to grow the economy at say 3% year over year, real dollars, do you seriously think we can maintain this level of growth via conservation as the centerpiece of energy policy?

I don't. I can see conservation optimistically cutting energy needs by 5-10% of total usage, but even that will take quite a bit of doing. And I don't see how that could be repeated year over year.

I know you hate Cheney's guts, but if you're going to criticize him for that particular statement, you have to demonstrate specifically how it's an incorrect statement, with numbers.
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