Ann Coulter’s Useless Demagoguery

Ann Coulter is hard at work churning out useless columns. This time it is on the high gasoline prices. Right off the bat she starts out badly,

I would be more interested in what the Democrats had to say about high gas prices if these were not the same people who refused to let us drill for oil in Alaska, imposed massive restrictions on building new refineries, and who shut down the development of nuclear power in this country decades ago.

Uhhmmm, drilling in Alaska wont really help prices. One could argue that a barrel from Alaska means one less barrel from Saudi Arabia and that is a good thing (i.e. less money going to terrorists and their supporters), but in terms of just the price of oil and gasoline, it would have a limited and probably unnoticable impact. As for nuclear power plants…uhmmm has anybody thought to inform Ms. Coulter that we don’t have nuclear powered cars yet and that she isn’t living in the Jetson’s cartoon world?

But it’s too much having to watch Democrats wail about the awful calamity to poor working families of having to pay high gas prices.

Imposing punitive taxation on gasoline to force people to ride bicycles has been one of the left’s main policy goals for years.

Right! Which is exactly why when the Republicans took the House, the Senate and the White House they abolished the federal gasoline tax. Oh…damn it. Don’t you just hate it when the facts get in the way?

When the free market does the exact thing liberals have been itching to do through taxation, they pretend to be appalled by high gas prices, hoping the public will forget that high gas prices are part of their agenda.

Yes, but what really highlights the hipocrisy in politics is that the Republicans are also whining about the price of gasoline and proposing some solutions that will have only limited effect at most. I have to wonder if it hurts to be like this: self-righteous and wrong-headed.

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Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.

Comments

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  2. agoh says:

    What happened to the brillant move by Billy Frist to send everybody a hundred bucks to keep quiet?

    The Democrats are equally idiotic in the call to cut the gas tax—the gas tax happens to fund most interstate and US highway construction and maintenance. So under their plan an incentive to drive would be met with the increasing use of roads and the government’s decreasing capacity to maintain them!

    Neither party has a rational energy plan. As Bush’s Interior Secretary has argued, any oil found in ANWAR will have minimal impact on prices given the small estimates of reserves there. Why he keeps on harping on the promise of ANWAR is mystifying.

    Democrats have nothing either.

    it is shameful that neither party has any presence of mind to start addressing this vitally important issue,

  3. SlimGuy says:

    If you build nuclear power plants you lower the need to build conventional fueled plants and their added consumption

    Look at any gas pump…fed tax still there

  4. Steven Plunk says:

    I think you are being too hard on Ann here.

    Every additional barrel of oil will help with price. It’s like saying my vote doesn’t count in a country of almost three hundred million so why vote.

    Ann’s point (usually made in an over the top manner) is that dems obstruct commonsense proposals like ANWR drilling and the building of refineries. Those short term environmental victories cost us all in the long term.

    Teamed up with chicken little in the form of our news media the leftist environmentalists have stopped nuclear power by working with those same dems who oppose petro development. Heck, they even oppose wind farms now.

    We don’t have nuclear cars but nuclear energy could replace gas fired co-generation plants and we do have natural gas powered cars.

    You are right that the republican party has lost it’s way but it’s our responsibility to brow beat it back into line. Ann’s column does just that. It’s not a policy paper it’s a column written for the masses.

    It’s also very unfair to blame republicans and the white house for not getting things done such as reducing the gas tax. That tax is used to build our highways and unfortunately needs to stay around. It’s a far cry from raising it as a social behavior mechanism as many dems have proposed.

    It’s clear you don’t like her but in this case the message is sound.

  5. yetanotherjohn says:

    I think you would do well to enroll in an economics class with Mr. Russert. Increasing the supply on the raw material that makes up about 50% of the cost of the end product is likely to decrease price. The increase in demand in gas is what is driving prices up. We can bomb China and India back to the stone age and reduce demand or we can increase supply. Absent that, expect prices to continue to increase.

    While you are insightfully correct that short term cars do not work on nuclear fuel (Ann can’t get anything past you), at the end of the day the issue is energy. While some forms of energy are harder to adapt to mobile sources (gas has a great mass to energy ratio), substitute goods are possible. Could we see a market movement towards natural gas cars if natural gas for energy production was transferred to nuclear energy? Very possibly.

    On the tax, compare the profits made by the oil companies to the “profit” made by the governments (state and federal) on the gas tax. With the political ranting and raving on “price gauging”, it is worthwhile to question if this is where we should be taxing. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but to talk about price gauging by those who are collecting a bigger piece of the price doesn’t seem reasonable to me. It would be like the Saudis calling for price gauging investigations of big oil.

    The bottom line is do you trust the market or government to provide a long term solution. There really aren’t many short term solutions.

  6. Steve Verdon says:

    Steve P.,

    Sure an additional barrel will help. So might a bumper crop of oranges (general equilibrium you know). The point is that drilling in ANWR wont make a big or even noticable change when we are talking (at best) 1.5 million barrels/day and world production is 85 million barrels/day.

    We donâ??t have nuclear cars but nuclear energy could replace gas fired co-generation plants and we do have natural gas powered cars.

    Sure, but I’m not seeing how that is part of the gasoline problem. NG is, if anything, a substitute for gasoline hence replacing that with electric cars powered by a nuke plant doesn’t strike me as doing much.

    Sure the democrats have been a big problem, but so have the Republicans. We’ve had over 5 years to build new refineries…do we have any? No. Have any enviro regs been removed to make building refineries viable? Not really. Do we even have a national fuel blend vs. the different local fuel blends? Again a complete fumble from the Repubs.

    That tax is used to build our highways and unfortunately needs to stay around.

    Point taken…but then why is Coulter bitching about it? Oh yeah, because she can beat up the Democrats with it, but ignore the Republicans failure to “do something about it”.

    Bottomline, they have both been ineffectual save at producing lots of hot air on the topic. Now maybe we should look at trying to harness that hot air as an energy source….

    As for Coulter, her message is wrong. It is simply dressed up partisan politics from a hack. The real problems aren’t even touched on in that article save accidentally and not in a way that really helps. She is part of the problem.

  7. Randall says:

    Nuclear Power is used to generate electricity.

    More electricity will be a boon to electricity-powered cars.

    Electricity-powered cars use less gas (a product heavily dependent on oil – Mideast in origin or otherwise) than gas-powered cars.

    The flame-throwing anorexic does have a point.

  8. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Steve, while you may not like the way she says it, Ann usually has something to say that is relevant to her subject. Her aim is to get liberals to react. In you, she has. That statement about nuclear powered cars and the Jetsons shows an inability to connect two points of logic. I believe you will have to hone your wit a bit, to take on Ms Coulter. By the way, Her column is read by more people that you are, she is prettier than you, and she makes more money then you do.

  9. MrGone says:

    Unfortunately, none of this will have an impact. Oil is OVER. Get it? We need to start getting used to it. The sooner the better. Just wait till next year when you try heating your house on 4, 5 or 6 dollar oil. Start planning and start planting. This has nothing to do with refineries, it has everything to do with lack of ultimate production capacity and guess what, we’re there. We will NEVER be able to produce more oil than we do now, NEVER. Just watch the world oil production numbers. You may be surprised. I’m not. Good luck and…a long good night.

    Peace.

  10. Wayne says:

    The point is that drilling in ANWR wont make a big or even noticeable change when we are talking (at best) 1.5 million barrels/day and world production is 85 million barrels/day.

    That is nearly 2% of world production. I would say that is significant. Would it solve the whole problem? No. No one thing will. Combine it with increase exploration elsewhere, greater nuclear power, conservation, alternative resources and others measures and it will. Otherwise we can set around and complain and do nothing like the Democrats.

    Some complain that the Republicans havenâ??t done anything in last five years. Anyone remember the Dems filibusting the energy bill Bush submitted and bragging about it. Letâ??s not past it because it only solve part of the problem. Letâ??s start somewhere. Same excuse about that drilling in ANWR wonâ??t do anything for 10 years. If the Dems didnâ??t filibuster, we would be five years closer.

  11. If the GOP was really serious about increasing our oil supply, they’d be pushing for drilling where our largest oil reserves are: the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic and Pacific continental shelves, the Rocky Mountains, etc.

    Of course people actually live in those areas, which means they’d actually have to work to convince voters it’s a good idea. Far better to pick a place out in the middle of nowhere like ANWR which doesn’t do anything to really increase the supply, but which can be used for political maneuvering against the Democrats.

    Because political points, not oil, is the only thing the GOP really wants out of ANWR.

  12. Wayne says:

    If we could find 50 ANWR, we could match the current world production. One ANWR matches the oil production of many countries including what we receive from Iraq. The Dems said two percent was a large amount when it came to reducing our taxes. The footprint of ANWR is less then 2 percent of National Parks. So is 2 percent important or not?

  13. Bithead says:

    Uhhmmm, drilling in Alaska wont really help prices

    Wrong. Dead wrong.

    This is not a situation of a supply problem at the crude level, there’s plenty, and to spare) the issue rather is one of perception of the market. The perception currently is that American refuses to develop domestic supplies of crude. Regardless of the actual impact on supply, the change in perception alone as a result of a mere vote t drill in ANWR will cool the speculative markets dramatically, thereby lowering the prices, before the first drill is set.

    The real major portion of this has to do with refining capacity, or more correctly the lack of it. There’s no short fix for that, either. The however, there again, even the move to making additional capacity, which would take something like ten years to get up and running fully, would cool off significantly the speculative marketplace. Once again, we’re talking about perception here.

  14. Steve Verdon says:

    Bithead,

    I’m sorry that is just not accurate. The supply problem is that it can’t keep up with demand. Allowing for drilling in ANWR would help, a tiny bit, but given the increase in demand it isn’t going to help all that much. Further, it wont be of any help for at least a decade.

    As for refining capacity, AFAIK, there isn’t major refining disruption right now save for the related issue of MTBE.

  15. Steve Verdon says:

    Zelsdorf,

    Steve, while you may not like the way she says it, Ann usually has something to say that is relevant to her subject. Her aim is to get liberals to react. In you, she has.

    I am neither a liberal nor a conservative. What I am interested in the facts and reason, Coulter has virtually none, save by accident.

    It wasn’t just the liberals that killed nukes. The Republicans have been in charge of the White House for 17 of the last 26 years, and have had the Senate for a number of those 17 years, and the House for 5 years as well. But do we see anything done in regards to nuke plants? No, not really.

    Wayne,

    That 1.5 MB/day is the high end of the scale. It could in fact be just 0.5 MB/day. Furhter it would be around 2020 or so by the time we hit either of those two numbers.

    As for all your other points, the high price will do all of those things. But that isn’t what Coulter is saying. High prices will make alternative fuels (such as electrict cars, hybrids, and so forth) more attractive. Also, people who are right now buying new cars are probably giving far more weight to fuel economy than say 3 or 4 years ago, let alone 5 or 10. Of course, fuel economy is something the liberals have pushed for…but we don’t get that form Coulter.

    As for the energy bill, there was nothing in there to address the current problem. It was basically a pork bill for energy companies. Companies that are now reaping huge profits. Why are we subsidizing such companies? Funny Coulter doesn’t touch on that either.

    Bottom line, she is a hack.

  16. Wayne says:

    Steve
    Sound like we should have been drilling in ANWR, other places and building new refineries 20 years ago. We can get some production in a lot less then 20 years. Are you going be using the same excuse 20 years from now that ANWR is still 20 years away for full production so we shouldnâ??t do it?

  17. Steve Verdon says:

    Sound like we should have been drilling in ANWR, other places and building new refineries 20 years ago.

    Yes, but the problem is that back then oil was relatively cheap. This is where Coulter could have had a decent point. Back then the environmentalists and liberals (often one-in-the-same) would argue: Gasoline is cheap, why do damage to the environment.

    The response would be: Demand is rising and it takes quite awhile to build refineries and bring oil wells in remote areas up to max capacity.

    This kind of thing is very common when you have quite a bit of interference from the government. They don’t have a profit motive and tend to look at things very differently. Futures markets can smooth out the “boom/bust” cycle that is present in some markets, but only if the price signals lead to the action to smooth out such cycles. Interferring with the response to price signals can prevent the smoothing.

  18. Wayne says:

    Steve
    You are correct. Also if the oil companies are only allowed to make a small percent per dollar invested, they are less likely to expand output. The use of total amount instead of percentage is very misleading. Also itâ??s a red herring when MSM use CEO salaries to signify the oil company make too much. Simon from American Idol get paid $65 million a year to bash contestant. Letâ??s get some perspective.