Thursday, November 15, 2007

Gov't: Uniquely Unqualified to Solve Problems

As coercive monopolies that spend other people's money taken by force, governments are uniquely unqualified to solve problems. They are riddled by ignorance, perverse incentives, incompetence and self-serving. The synthetic-fuels program during the Carter years consumed billions of dollars and was finally disbanded as a failure. The push for ethanol today is more driven by special interests than good sense -- it's boosting food prices while producing a fuel of dubious environmental quality.

~John Stossel in his
column today "Don't Look to Government to Cool Down the Planet"

15 Comments:

At 11/15/2007 1:18 PM, Anonymous holymoly said...

And corporations aren't plagued by ignorance, perverse incentives, incompetence and corruption? Of course, corporations are "self-serving" by their very nature, so Stossel's criticism of government on those grounds is mystifying.

I'll admit that the jury is out on the specific area of biofuels, but somehow I think that Stossel and Perry would rather beat on strawmen than, say, actually look at the literature on net energy balance of alternative energy sources.

 
At 11/15/2007 2:06 PM, Anonymous warrl said...

Yes, corporations can have ignorance, perverse incentives, incompetence, and corruption.

But they don't have coercion. The customers are free to walk away, to trade with a competitor or perhaps to not trade at all - WITHOUT disrupting their entire lives.

Thus, if a corporation messes up badly enough, it fails and some other enterprise steps into whatever breaches may actually exist. A corporation will sometimes, in order to save itself, abandon failing or low-return projects.

Whereas if a government messes up badly enough, it decides that it needs to spend even more taxpayer dollars on the failed programs, and add more programs alongside that do exactly the same thing.

 
At 11/15/2007 3:15 PM, Anonymous holymoly said...

Don't you mean that when a corporation messes up badly enough, its principals attempt to flee to the Caymans with their golden parachutes? If they mess up in a "legal" sense, we rely on the big bad government (SEC) to prosecute.

This whole "coercion! coercion!" thing strikes me as utopian. No market-based economy can exist without some form of coercion (government) to enforce the rules of trade. Even Adam Smith recognized the importance of a well-functioning *coercive* judicial system.

 
At 11/15/2007 3:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gee, Holymoly, Like nobody is supposed to notice that right after you scream "strwman!" you start slinging straw like a maniac?

 
At 11/15/2007 3:31 PM, Anonymous holymoly said...

Oh, anonymous, you're right. You caught me. Everyone knows that when companies fail or are in their death throes, their principals walk away penniless, hanging their heads in shame at the recognition of their poor performance. See, straw is fun! It's fun to play in the straw!

 
At 11/15/2007 6:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see holymoly's deranged side is starting to come out more.

Stop and think about things before you wail away on your keyboard. Like the difference between failed programs by the government, paid for by money that was taken by force, and failed programs by corporations, paid for by money that was given to them freely (ie through investments or market sales).

It blows my mind that something that simple has to be explained to you.

 
At 11/15/2007 10:44 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Well you have to excuse holymoly since he's suffering from a form of GORONmania and its exacerbated with an acute strain of Warren Buffet Syndrome...

Stossel's comment: "As coercive monopolies that spend other people's money taken by force, governments are uniquely unqualified to solve problems. They are riddled by ignorance, perverse incentives, incompetence and self-serving" made me immediately think of that aging clown from liberal loser land, Rep. John Dingell and his 50-cent gasoline tax, a carbon tax and scaling back tax breaks for some home owners...

Apparently Dingell doesn't care that the taxman takes the lion share on gallon of gasoline already...

Biofuels, yet another useless scam...

What do we need biofuels for when this country has 9000+ billion bbls equivalent of oil right here in the good, ole US of A?

 
At 11/15/2007 10:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem with government solutions is that they are very often driven by optics and public pressure rather than sound economics. Politicians need to be "seen to be doing something".

Last year, corn based ethanol was the flavor of the month despite economists' predictions that food prices would rise substantially as agricultural land was devoted to corn instead of other food crops and meat prices would rise due as corn feed prices would rise. The amount of water required for irrigation and processing of ethanol was recently estimated to be 1,700 gallons to produce 1 gallon of ethanol. States are now suing neighbouring states for overuse of water (Kansas vs. Nebraska) to produce a product that must be trucked because it cannot be shipped by pipeline. Perhaps, there is someone who can explain how increased trucking lowers CO2 emissions.

The cost of corn is so high at present that ethanol is not economically viable even with oil prices at their highest level in over 30 years. The result of millions in subsidies is that ethanol plants have proliferated and thanks to politicians in Washington, thousands of investors will lose their shirts when politicians withdraw their patronage.

Rather than focusing on which is better, government or big business, is there anyone who can demonstrate how ethanol subsidies have helped solve global warming.

The only winners I can see are corn farmers although chicken and hog farmers have suffered.

 
At 11/16/2007 12:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stossel is a self serving entertainer playing to true believers.

Folks, LOOK at the website that he appears on...it's full of conspiracy theories and ads for sleazy conservative t-shirts printed in China and sold by liberals.

The same web site prints an article by Pat Buchannan titled The Crash of 2008 and all the while I have been thinking there is not going to be a recession in 2008. What is the truth and how come conservatives can't get their predictions straight?

 
At 11/16/2007 3:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could you please answer the question:

Have ethanol subsidies been effective?

John Stossel delights in inflammatory language. Ok, so he's a peanut. What else is new.

He did however raise the point that so far government solutions to the problem of global warming have not been very effective.

Ethanol subsidies either have or have not been effective government policy. Which is it?

Tell me why a product that provides only 80% of the energy of gasoline, consumes water resources during a time of drought, raises food prices, and is not economic even with gas prices at historic highs is worth the millions of taxpayer dollars that have been blown as the government tries to pick the winners?

I guess we are talking about an inconvenient truth here.

 
At 11/16/2007 5:15 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Stossel is a self serving entertainer playing to true believers"...

And YOU aren't?!?!

What's next? Human induced global weather change is a fact?

 
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At 11/17/2007 9:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 12:44am - you mean because a website is an outlet to a myriad of ideas, we should discount everything on there? We should engage in ad hominem attacks, rather than discuss the topic at hand?

RIVITING!

 
At 11/17/2007 5:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Predictable. Unfortunately, there are very few people who study the art of debate and rhetoric.

Ad hominem ie. personal attacks rather than actually addressing the issues raised by a speaker has become the rule rather than the exception. Unfortunately, by attacking others rather than deconstructing their arguments and logically, disproving their assertions the dialogue becomes one where neither party enhances their knowledge nor their relationship with other participants.

With the advent of the internet, we can either indulge in web rage or we can use technology to meet and exchange ideas with people from different cultures from all around the world. In the process, we have the option of opening ourselves to new experiences and understanding different approaches to economic and social problems that humans encounter.

 
At 11/18/2007 8:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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