Mitt Romney on Economics and Energy Policy
Mitt Romney, in an interview gave us a look at some of his economic views and on energy in particular. Let me provide the translation for some parts of the interview:
I wish we could become energy independent for only $100 billion.
I’m going to spend lots of your money. This will mean either higher taxes now, or in the future…or less of other services the government provides.
But energy independence is going to take a long-term commitment, and the public and private investment will most likely be quite substantial, but the return will be even more substantial.
I know I’m talking out of my a$$, and never mind that if the above were true then there wouldn’t have to be any sort of “Apollo” type project. Simple let private industry do it.
We send over a billion dollars a day out of our country to buy oil and energy from other countries.
Hi, I’m a mercantilist idiot, and I’m going to base my policies on a view of economics that 250 years ago was a bad idea and still is!
Building nuclear power plants, developing carbon sequestration, liquefied coal, or gasified coal will be the more expensive efforts, but the payback is enormous.
Those market oriented economists would call this a profit opportunity and note that private firms would engage in all of the above activities if true. However, I don’t believe in that market mumbo-jumbo and instead I believe in government making people doing things they otherwise wouldn’t do.
The answer is no.
But I’ll do it anyways!
The government should not be picking winners and losers.
So we’ll just throw money at everybody!
The government should not be getting behind companies and say we are going to play venture capitalist.
We’ll call them subsidies, tax credits, and so forth. Sounds friendlier and makes it look like I’m actually doing something.
Venture capital is a tough industry. I know. I’ve been in it, and I wasn’t perfect either.
Which is why I’m now in government! None of that cut-throat competition to keep costs down, stay innovative, etc. That’s tough work! Ha ha.
And government doesn’t play that role.
I am Dr. Remulack.
But in basic science, we invest $50 billion a year in healthcare research.
Right, and some of that money was used to support blatantly silly research that argued obesity kills 400,000 or so people every year. Sure that turned out to be wrong by more than an order of magnitude, but we eventually got to the right answer.
The total investment that we have been able to come up with on new technologies for energy efficiency or energy production is roughly $4 billion a year, and we send a billion dollars a day outside the country.
Did I mention I’m a mercantilist idiot?
Now some might object to the claim that Romney has a mercantilist view of trade, and they could point to the very next question/answer as support where Romney says,
It’s really sad but none of the leaders on the Democratic side and almost no one on our side has any significant experience in the private sector, and that’s why I began with regulatory relief. … [Over-regulation] kills small businesses, and they are the source of a good deal of jobs. And the other is keeping our markets open. That’s something which a lot of people fear, but if we are vigilant in protecting a level playing field, we not only can compete with the rest of the world, we have to compete with the rest of the world. The option of saying, “We can’t compete, we’re too expensive, so let’s put up protective barriers,” that would virtually assure that we go the way of the Soviet Union, that we get outcompeted by other people and become a second-tier economy.
Here is my problem with this: All that stuff about “level playing fields”, “fair trade”, etc. is often code for “I’ll talk about open markets, but really I’ll put in place tariffs and other protectionist policies when I’m in office.” (wink, wink, nudge nudge) We saw this with Bush, lots of talk about “free trade” with a “level playing field” and we had steel tariffs, protectionist policies on imported shrimp, and agricultural products as well. So I don’t see those comments as a commitment to free trade, but as a commitment to use protectionist policies because, Romney is a mercantilist idiot. But to be fair, this charge can be leveled against all of the candidates, IMO, save maybe Ron Paul.