Hillary’s Bogus Claim About New Jobs and Green Fuels

Over at Hillary’s site there are excerpts from a speech she made in Iowa about how she’ll create new jobs and solve the problems of both climate change and energy. The only problem is that they are too fantastical to be true…at least in terms of the policies being a net gain.

“Our nation’s dependence on foreign oil places our economy at risk, our security in jeopardy, and our planet in peril. But I believe we can transform the way we use and produce energy – and create at least 5 million jobs in new green industries,” Clinton said.

And exactly how many jobs will be lost in the non-green energy industries? My guess is far more than 5 million. Further, what about the costs of energy? My guess is that they will go up. Why? Simple, if it were indeed true that we could have 5 million new jobs, address the issue of climate change and reduce our dependency on foreign oil, we’d be doing it already.

The oil industry alone has been earning ginormous profits. Anybody who comes up with alternatives to oil would be able to capture some of those profits for themselves. They aren’t doing this, nor are there any plans to do this, aside from various politicians’ plans, so such policies are probably going to cost more than any benefit they yield.

Scrolling down we see that indeed these things Hillary is talking about are not economically viable, even with the ginormous profits oil companies are currently earning and the high prices of oil, natural gas, etc. Here “five point plan” includes

  1. Tax subsidies
  2. New regulations and requirements on industry
  3. Subsidies
  4. More subsidies
  5. More regulations and even more subsidies.

So, typical politician response to problem, throw money at it, impose a few new regulations and then brag about the new jobs created and ignore the old ones lost.

Vote for Hillary, the candidate for the Status Quo.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, Economics and Business, Politicians, US Politics, , , ,
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

  1. TJIT says:

    Green fuels aren’t green, they cause massive amounts of environmental destruction.

    Of course the politicians don’t care just as long as the policy that caused the destruction provides them a few votes.

  2. grampagravy says:

    This article reads like “we can’t-so just don’t try.”
    Let’s keep burning oil like it will last forever, continue to let powerful oil companies hold sway over government and public perception, and go on trading American blood to ensure the supply. And, you are right, a vote for Clinton will be a vote for the status quo you seem to be arguing in favor of maintaining. So, are you saying her plan stinks but vote for her anyway so we’ll have the comfort of the same old lies and the same old policies that have brought us to the wonderful state of affairs we enjoy today? aka–no surprises, no risk, and “net gain” for big oil?

  3. Dave Schuler says:

    They aren’t doing this, nor are there any plans to do this, aside from various politicians’ plans, so such policies are probably going to cost more than any benefit they yield.

    Actually, Steve, they are. The competition to Big Oil may end up being Big Ag (although getting rid of the corn-based ethanol subsidies would help out a bit).

  4. yetanotherjohn says:

    I love grampagravy’s response. He doesn’t care about the history of government intrusions into the market place have unintended consequences and long term inhibiting growth (aka jobs). He doesn’t care if what Hillary proposes is practical. He just wants his hope. Let him bask in the glory of mommy saying it will be all right if you just give mommy more power. He doesn’t care that it is a lie. If you point out mommy doesn’t really have the answer you are just a big meanie who is a puppet of “big oil”.

    This is the sort of attitude that leads to the democrats getting votes. Happy thoughts over reality.

  5. grampagravy says:

    John,
    Which government “intrusions in the marketplace” bother you the most?
    The one that ended slavery?
    The minimum wage?
    Social Security?
    The anti-trust laws?
    The fact is I care a lot about how government functions in the marketplace and want it done equitably and responsibly, not orchestrated by those who would take us back to the abuses of laissez faire capitalism.
    By the way, ridiculing the speaker does not solidify your argument-it’s the refuge of those who have no real argument. It’s called ad hominem, look it up.

  6. anjin-san says:

    My guess is far more than 5 million

    My guess is that they will go up

    Sounds like a lot of guessing. Got facts? Is your position that Hillary is full of it because you are better at guessing then she is?

  7. Tano says:

    I’m guessing that Steve’s argument would fall apart if anyone were to discover some evidence that the government has, at some point, intervened in the marketplace to advantage the oil companies.
    Could something like that have ever happened?

  8. Tlaloc says:

    Biofuels strike me as a particularly bad idea. It means you are tying your food production and your energy production together so they come from the same source. It doesn’t take much imagination to forsee a future where famine in third world counties is exacerbated because the local farmers can grow fuel stocks for much higher prices than feeding their neighbors will bring.

  9. anjin-san says:

    Anybody who comes up with alternatives to oil would be able to capture some of those profits for themselves. They aren’t doing this, nor are there any plans to do this, aside from various politicians’ plans, so such policies are probably going to cost more than any benefit they yield.

    Really? Honda and GM are both bringing hydrogen-powered cars online this year.

    What’s the deal here? Just random Hillary hating? Or just getting the year’s first uninformed rant out of the way?

  10. jainphx says:

    You can build anything, but the market will still determine if it sells. It don’t sell they quit making it period.

  11. Rick DeMent says:

    What is far more interesting to me is not what Hillary said or didn’t that was bogus … by why Mr. Verdon seems to be so selective in commenting on which bogus things candidates say. I mean they all tell freaking whoppers … just the other day Romney claimed that if he was selected president Michigan’s one state recession would end. I mean come on that is a bigger steaming pile then anything Hillery has ever said in her life .. yet doesn’t seem to rate even a snark.

    Give it up Steve we all know you have the hots for Hillery. 🙂

  12. TJIT says:

    Dave,

    A good word to remember when it comes to biofuels from switch grass is vaporware.

    The process for making ethanol from switch grass is not easy and not one commercial plant has been built.

    Furthermore it suffers from many of the same problems corn ethanol does. That is it needs land to grow on and there is a finite amount of land available.

    Not a good policy to have food production and energy production competing for the same finite amount of land.

  13. TJIT says:

    anjin-san,

    Where does the hydrogen to run those hydrogen powers cars come from?

    Mostly from oil and gas or through chemical processes powered by nuclear or coal fueled power plants.

    Takes more energy to make and transport the hydrogen then it would to burn the petroleum in the first place.

  14. TJIT says:

    Rainforests and other valuable habitat / carbon sinks are being destroyed and replaced with palm oil plantations and soybeans fields.

    This destruction is caused by the increasing demand for feedstock to feed the biofuel market.

    The biofuel produced from the destroyed lands will be pushed by programs like Hilary’s and promoted as being green fuels.

    The ecosystem destruction required to produce these “green fuels” is always studiously ignored.

    Green fuels are not green.

    Liberals who are concerned about the environment need to learn how biofuels are produced, understand the destruction they cause, and push for an end to the mandates for biofuel usage.

    No other single action will provide greater benefits in environmental preservation.

  15. Dave Schuler says:

    The process for making ethanol from switch grass is not easy and not one commercial plant has been built.

    Quite true. But there’s always a first time and a good, largescale study has been performed and it looks promising.

    I think its reasonable to be concerned about our domestic subsidies for corn-based ethanol and about whatever effects that largescale cultivation of switchgrass may have. However, I also think that the controversy is over whether the land will be paved over or used for agriculture rather than whether it will be used for growing food or switchgrass for ethanol. As long as countries like China and India restrict their food imports while their people starve it artificially reduces the value of agriculture land. The land will be used for something.

  16. Paul says:

    The market is great for most things, but it can’t protect the environment without the intervention of government or something like it. It is one of few major exceptions to my general libertarian approach to things. I’m very sympathetic to the usual conservative argument that government intervention often causes problems, but doing nothing isn’t an acceptable alternative either. With environment and health care, the Republicans need to do more than just criticize the Democrats. They need to be asked “What’s your plan?” And after they answer the first time, they then need to be asked, “No, really, what is your real plan?”

    I’m not saying Hillary’s plan is any good, I don’t know anything about it. I’m no fan of the ethanol subsidies, but both parties have their fingerprints on that. The sugarcane fuel does seem to work well in Brazil though.

    It means you are tying your food production and your energy production together so they come from the same source. It doesn’t take much imagination to forsee a future where famine in third world counties is exacerbated because the local farmers can grow fuel stocks for much higher prices than feeding their neighbors will bring

    Not famine, but apparently this is exactly what is happening with corn in Mexico.

  17. anjin-san says:

    Where does the hydrogen to run those hydrogen powers cars come from?

    Mostly from oil and gas or through chemical processes powered by nuclear or coal fueled power plants.

    Takes more energy to make and transport the hydrogen then it would to burn the petroleum in the first place.

    Got Documentation TJIT? Or is it just that the people who run Honda, one of the best run, smartest corporations in the world have not figured this out, yet you have?

    Anyway, here is some information that does not come from Rush or Exxon:

    AT the moment, hydrogen seems to be the most practical way to power vehicles that do not emit carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas. But despite considerable research, many hurdles remain. Here are some questions and answers:

    Q. Where does hydrogen come from?

    A. Hydrogen, an odorless, colorless gas, is the lightest and most plentiful element in the universe. It is found in water and in most organic matter, but it is usually bound with other elements. For that reason, it is called an energy carrier, meaning that energy has to be expended to extract it.

    Q. But can’t it be burned in an engine?

    A. Fuels like coal, natural gas or oil can be taken from the ground and used with relatively little energy-intensive processing. But hydrogen must be turned into a fuel — and because it takes so much energy to produce, it should not be thought of as a direct replacement for fuels like gasoline. Rather, it is energy in a portable form, somewhat akin to electricity.

    Q. Then why bother?

    A. Because aside from being plentiful, it is very clean. Cars running on hydrogen produce very little tailpipe pollution and no greenhouse gases — they leave only a trail of water. In this way, cars running on fuel cells — which produce electricity by a chemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen — would produce no tailpipe emissions.

    Q. What is hydrogen used for today?

    A. It has several uses. About nine million tons of hydrogen are produced annually in the United States, mostly for chemical production, petroleum refining and metal treatment.

    Q. What is the cost of a unit of hydrogen with the same energy content as a gallon of gasoline?

    A. That question has many answers. Hydrogen is certainly expensive to produce now, with costs somewhat dependent on the source material. A kilogram of hydrogen has about the same energy content as a gallon of gasoline, but hydrogen proponents point out that fuel cells can have double or triple the efficiency of gasoline engines. Hydrogen is most commonly produced by a process called steam reforming, which extracts the hydrogen from natural gas. The cost of natural gas reforming, which has been the cheapest method, has been affected by the rising price of natural gas. A kilo of hydrogen produced by steam reforming costs from $4 to $8 today.

    It can also be made by electrolysis, which separates water into hydrogen and oxygen. The cost of hydrogen produced from water is tied to the price of electricity, which fluctuates by region and by type of generation. If grid electricity sold for 5 cents per kilowatt-hour, hydrogen could be produced through electrolysis for $3 per gallon equivalent. But electricity is typically 10 to 14 cents today, so electrolytic hydrogen from grid electricity is often $6 per gallon equivalent or more. These high costs make hydrogen generated from renewable electricity sources like wind farms or solar power more attractive.

    More at: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/29/automobiles/29PRIMER.html?ref=automobiles

  18. TJIT says:

    anjin-san,

    Interesting that your documentation backs up what I said in my post. Quoting from your post we have

    Fuels like coal, natural gas or oil can be taken from the ground and used with relatively little energy-intensive processing. But hydrogen must be turned into a fuel — and because it takes so much energy to produce, it should not be thought of as a direct replacement for fuels like gasoline.

    I suppose if all my arguments were as self refuting as yours were I would also have to include elementary school level insults like.

    Anyway, here is some information that does not come from Rush or Exxon:

    What an entertaining little gullible tool you are.

    Add to my facts your documentation confirmed the fact that we:

    1. Don’t have infrastructure for hydrogen transport

    2. Don’t have the capacity to produce commercial quantities of fuel cells capable of driving a car

    3. Are not sure what the safety implication are of having highly explosive hydrogen gas stored in garages around the nation.

    It becomes painfully clear that the hydrogen is not going to be a viable candidate for replacing petroleum transport fuels for the next five years and possibly the next ten.

    Are you sure the hydrogen cars Honda and GM are producing aren’t concept cars?

  19. TJIT says:

    anjin-san,

    If you had followed the engineering trade press you would have seen that fuel cells have been an active research area for years.

    You would also know that their are some sticky technical issues with using fuel cells in transport. IIRC one of the main challenges is that many of the components (exchange membranes??) are fragile and difficult to package in such a way that they are not damaged by the vibrations moving vehicles produce.

    You would also know that one of the interesting upcoming technologies are plug in hybrid vehicles. Plug in the car at night and power most of the commute running off the power you pulled from the grid overnight.

    The main obstacle here is batteries but research is ongoing and battery technology appears to be incrementally improving.

    Anyway, here is some information from Exxon that you might find interesting.

    Exxon says film may lead to car battery like laptop’s

    Exxon Mobil considers the film a breakthrough because it allows battery makers to build smaller and cheaper battery systems — removing key obstacles that have kept automakers from building hybrid and electric vehicles on a wide scale.

    Of course if you actually paid attention and followed the technology and issues instead of being a gullible, slogan chucking tool you would be aware of this already.

  20. anjin-san says:

    Actually, I am not even arguing in favor of hydrogen, so try not to get too worked up. My main point is that Steve’s argument that:

    “Anybody who comes up with alternatives to oil would be able to capture some of those profits for themselves. They aren’t doing this, nor are there any plans to do this”

    is obvious nonsense. Some serious people are putting serious money into hydrogen cars. Steve is talking thru his ass ummm, hat.

    As for your points:

    1. Don’t have infrastructure for hydrogen transport

    2. Don’t have the capacity to produce commercial quantities of fuel cells capable of driving a car

    So what? Once upon a time, we did not have the infrastructure to produce and distribute gasoline. More recently, we the infrastructure for the primitive internet was limited to connections between a few military bases. Well look what we have now.

    Are you saying, “it might be hard, lets just give up now”?

    As for you statement: “slogan chucking tool” well, please show me one slogan I have used.

    I see you know how to use google, and you have name calling skills roughly in line with a semi-clever nineteen year old. Not very impressive, on the whole.

  21. JohnG says:

    Why is Honda making a Hydrogen car? I don’t know, why does Honda make ads and put them on TV? Hydrogen is a bigger environmental loser than gas, but because the environmental impact is not seen coming out of the consumer’s tail pipe, they can sell it as cleaner. Same thing with hybrids.

    “They run on electricity, electricity has no emissions, therefore my car is cleaner. And hydrogen, you can make that with electricity too!”

    But where is the electricity coming from? Our #1 source of electricity is COAL. Which means that instead of burning oil to move your car, you are going to be burning coal, a much dirtier fuel. Also, the hybrid and hydrogen engines are more expensive to create in terms of energy, which means that not only are you using an ultimately coal burning car, but you have to burn even more coal than you would if you were using a gas engine.

    So, knowing this, why are Honda et all making hybrids and hydrogen cars? Because as I said before, people don’t see the damage coming out of their tailpipe and think it’s better for the environment. They’re making these cars because consumers perceive them to be more environmentally friendly and therefore buy them. In other words, they’re making this cars not because it’s environmentally sound, but because it makes them look good and people are willing to buy them.

  22. DL says:

    Hillary’s cure for job shortage and energy will be simple, as are all great plans.

    Proclamation: All conservative employed white males are to report immediately to the Soylent Green Room.

  23. Grewgills says:

    Hydrogen and plug ins do shift the source of many of the potential pollutants from the individual vehicles to the point of electrical generation. The point the naysayers seem to be missing is that it is much easier to put emission controls on the relatively few power plants than on every single vehicle (ie point source is much easier to control than non-point source). The Swiss Federal Institute for Materials Science and Technologies has conducted a study comparing CO2 emissions of internal combustion engine (ICE) cars to electric cars (EV) powered by the current coal heavy EU mix of energy and solar. The result was that the EV was responsible for less than half the emissions of an ICE vehicle when powered by the current EU mix and less than a third when powered by solar. Studies by the Union of Concerned Scientists, the California Air Resources Board, and UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies gave even more dramatic results. Add to this the rather large potential cleaning up of our current electricity generation and the results could improve further.

    I could find no such comparisons for H power cell vehicles, but would be surprised if running emissions would be worse than ICEs. There would be considerable start up costs to put the infrastructure in place, so it would take some time to overcome that initial investment which should be taken into account.

  24. TJIT says:

    anjin-san demonstrates he is as ignorant about economics as he is engineering.

    In the original post Steve said

    “Anybody who comes up with alternatives to oil would be able to capture some of those profits for themselves. They aren’t doing this, nor are there any plans to do this”

    To which anjin-san says

    is obvious nonsense. Some serious people are putting serious money into hydrogen cars. Steve is talking thru his ass ummm, hat.

    Note first anjin-san’s use of an elementary school level insult. I suppose that is just a natural defense to cover for his ignorance.

    Note secondly how anjin-san completely misses Steve’s point of

    Anybody who comes up with alternatives to oil would be able to capture some of those profits for themselves

    The previous posts (ironically especially anjin-san’s post in support of hydrogen) showed that hydrogen is not a commercially viable alternative to petroleum.

    When hydrogen becomes commercially and technically viable then you will see hydrogen cars produced for the consuming public.

    Until then it is an interesting research topic and a source of a couple of concept cars, not a replacement for petroleum.

  25. Grewgills says:

    Hydrogen is a bigger environmental loser than gas

    Do you have any documentation for that? I have seen no reliable comparisons. Again it is far easier to control and clean point sources.

    Hydrogen and hydrocarbons are not competing on a level playing field. The initial hydrocarbon infrastructure was subsidized and is now in place and current subsidies are not on par. H fuel cells may or may not be the answer but whatever the replacement to hydrocarbon fuels ends up being, the initial infrastructure will have to be subsidized to be compete on costs. Once the infrastructure is in place and production is improved and increased H fuel cells could well compete on price and offer additional environmental benefits. We are not there yet. The question remains, is that where we should be heading? What should our next generation fuel be? Why not address that issue rather than trading insults?

    Biofuels do have some serious drawbacks. Pristine environments are being destroyed for palm oil plantations creating a net negative in terms of GHGs along with other negatives. Corn is problematic, because of costs both of the fuel and food. Other plants are considerably less problematic. The costs of production in money and energy, provide a much better return, and there is plenty of arable land that people are being paid not to produce on that could be used for switch grass or some other locally viable source of lignocellulose. Some algaes are also looking promising as potential sources. Increasing the efficiency of processing wood chips and other already present plant waste products also offers potential, as there are no additional growing costs and it takes care of a waste product that would be releasing CO2 anyway.

    As previously mentioned H fuel cells have infrastructure issues. (These might be overcome, but are there for at least the short to medium term,)

    Plug-ins and hybrids seem to have the most immediate utility (no or limited infrastructure needed) and all studies I have seen indicate that there is a significant net lowering of GHG and particulate pollutants.

  26. anjin-san says:

    Ummm TJIT…

    Are you reading challenge? I am not arguing “in favor” of hydrogen. It may be viable, it may not. I don’t know, and neither do you. But it is clear that major players are investing in technologies beyond oil, which proves Steve’s point to be bogus.

    I will repeat, for the slow kids. Mature industries do not spring into being overnight. Hydrogen technology is in it’s infancy. Much investment will be required. Will it produce a solid ROI? Time will tell. Hydrogen cars are well beyond the concept car stage, there are small leasing fleets and target dates for sales to consumers within two years.

    The NY Times post DOES NOT show that hydrogen is not commercially viable, just that there are significant challenges ahead for the technology, and an uncertain future (as futures tend to be) I am still of the opinion that America can get the job done, if we put our minds to it. (Well, maybe not yours 🙂

    .

  27. Steve Verdon says:

    Dave,

    Interesting, I hadn’t even heard of switchgrass prior to your post. Good find, and you’re right ending corn subsidies for ethanol sure might help. Also, it points to one of the problems with government intervention…the better lobbying group often times win leading to a less than optimal outcome.

    Anjin-san,

    Sounds like a lot of guessing. Got facts? Is your position that Hillary is full of it because you are better at guessing then she is?

    Yes, it is guess work. But then so is Hillary’s position because she doesn’t have any facts either, just numbers ginned up via some “research” process designed to give an answer she’d like.

    Tano,

    I’m guessing that Steve’s argument would fall apart if anyone were to discover some evidence that the government has, at some point, intervened in the marketplace to advantage the oil companies.
    Could something like that have ever happened?

    Why would my argument fall apart? I do oppose intervention in favor of oil companies as well, however, I don’t think we’d stop using oil and its derivatives if this were to happen. Further, while oil companies do get various benefits from the government, oil products–e.g. gasoline–are also heavily taxed. So the net outcome for the consumer isn’t clear to me.

    Tlaloc,

    Biofuels strike me as a particularly bad idea. It means you are tying your food production and your energy production together so they come from the same source. It doesn’t take much imagination to forsee a future where famine in third world counties is exacerbated because the local farmers can grow fuel stocks for much higher prices than feeding their neighbors will bring.

    We agree, at least in part. Corn is already having an impact in places like Mexico where the cost of things like corn tortillas (a significant source of food for many) are going up quite a bit because of corn-based ethanol production.

    Rick,

    What is far more interesting to me is not what Hillary said or didn’t that was bogus … by why Mr. Verdon seems to be so selective in commenting on which bogus things candidates say. I mean they all tell freaking whoppers … just the other day Romney claimed that if he was selected president Michigan’s one state recession would end. I mean come on that is a bigger steaming pile then anything Hillery has ever said in her life .. yet doesn’t seem to rate even a snark.

    Your implication that I am being selective is offensive and misleading. I’ve attacked Romney in the past in other posts. Or do you really want me to take every candidates position on one issue in a single post?

    Oh and I actually find Hillary rather unattractive.

    Paul,

    The market is great for most things, but it can’t protect the environment without the intervention of government or something like it. It is one of few major exceptions to my general libertarian approach to things. I’m very sympathetic to the usual conservative argument that government intervention often causes problems, but doing nothing isn’t an acceptable alternative either.

    Yeah, the government sure protected the environment in the Eastern Block and former Soveit Union…oh wait, sorry my mistake those governments actually had a horrid track record on the environment.

    Government does have a role, IMO, but not this kind of role. For example, suppose there are growing subsidies for ethanol and farmers want to cash in on them. Might they start using less and less suitable land for growing corn and relying more and more on various forms of chemicals to enhance their harvests? What about excessive irrigation and run-off? And what about the third world countries? Greater subsidies for U.S. farmers would have an effect much like tariffs on imported corn thus exacerbating problems in the third world which could have secondary and tertiary environmental impacts.

  28. Dave Schuler says:

    Corn is already having an impact in places like Mexico where the cost of things like corn tortillas (a significant source of food for many) are going up quite a bit because of corn-based ethanol production.

    There’s probably a kernel (so to speak) of truth in this but it’s one of those statements that sound a lot truer than they actually are.

    It’s complicated.

    Are we importing corn from Mexico for use in ethanol production? I’d find this problematic not only for the reasons cited above but because Mexico’s corn and bean farmers receive subsidies. Were we really concerned about the high price of corn for tortillas in Mexico we might direct our attention to lowering U. S. and Mexican agricultural subsidies rather than how the subsidies are used (BTW Mexico imports a lot more beans from China than they do from us).

    Mexico does not import a great deal of corn for tortilla production from the U. S. and never has. White corn is used in tortillas; most of what we produce here is yellow corn (and that’s almost all of the relatively small amount of corn we export to Mexico). Our white corn production is dwindling here, not because we’re converting to yellow corn for ethanol, but because it’s hard for us to find buyers for what we produce (remember the subsidies I mentioned).

    But let’s return to the problem I mentioned above: land use. We have fewer farmers actually working the land right now than at any time in our history and we’re losing about 1,000,000 acres of prime farmland annually to other uses. To put that in perspective Iowa has about 20,000,000 acres of farmland, much of it prime.

    Our relatively small number of farmers is more productive than ever before and that’s actually lowering the value of prime farmland. That means that the land is more valuable for other uses than it is for farming. I think that anything that makes the land more valuable for farming i.e. whether it’s raising feed corn or switchgrass for ethanol production is a good thing because it keeps that land from being paved for highways, flooded for water projects, or built over with McMansions.

    We might also try to keep in mind that Mexico is no longer the truly impoverished country it once was and is now considered by the World Bank to be a middle class country. One of the reasons that the cost of corn in Mexico is going up is that they’re consuming more meat than they did 25 years ago because they can afford to do so and the corn is being used for animal feed.

    Note that I’m not unsympathetic to the situation of the many, many poor Mexicans. Mexico is a middle class country with a heckuva lot of poor people in it (as is China). But, as I noted above, the situation is a lot more complicated than that Mexicans are going hungry because we’re using some of our corn to make ethanol with.

  29. Paul says:

    Steve, I don’t support the ethanol subsidies, they seem like just another kind of pork. My point is that the free market is not going to protect the environment, and neither will criticisms of what is wrong with so-and-so’s plan. The majority of Americans are now on board with that, which means the Republicans cannot just continue the bogus non-policy policies they have had in recent years. If they do, they cede that space to Democrats and then we are more likely to get stuck with Democratic plans that aren’t good policy but get adopted because there is no real alternative. Obviously this statement is too overgeneralized, but I think there is also some food for thought in it.

  30. Matt says:

    Yeah, the government sure protected the environment in the Eastern Block and former Soveit Union…oh wait, sorry my mistake those governments actually had a horrid track record on the environment.

    Do you have any evidence of those governments actually attempting to protect the environment?

  31. Steve Verdon says:

    Dave,

    Given Mexico’s proximity to the U.S. I’m pretty sure that what happens to prices of corn in the U.S. have an impact in Mexico.

    Paul,

    I was criticizing “so-and-so’s plan” in my response to you, but pointing out that government often times mucks up the environment worse than the free market. Testing nuclear weapons, for example, isn’t something the free market generally does.

    The problem with the market and things like the environment are institutional in that it deals with things that are outside the market due to poorly defined property rights. Granted government can, in theory, improve these things, but since government is comprised of people…just like in businesses and as are consumers it isn’t clear to me that government has an advantage. The truth is that there is probably a point at which more government is detrimental to the environment and at the same time too little is also detrimental. My problem is that the knee-jerk reaction is that we must have more government to solve these problems.