Public Policy as an SAT Question

It’s clear that demand for fossil fuels, especially light, sweet crude, is now beginning to outstrip the market’s ability to supply it. Whether or not this is truly an indication of peak oil or not, we have met a point where what has long been seen as an inelastic demand curve—American’s thirst for fossil-fuel-sourced energy—has met a global demand spike. [As someone who buys high-grade aluminum alloys and stainless steels as a part of his job, I can tell you that many commodities are really on the rise given the spectacular growth in Asia.]

With this in mind, there are many proposals afoot to enable drilling for crude oil in areas currently under legal protection from doing so: the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, continental shelf areas in the Gulf of Mexico, etc. Is drilling for oil at these times most like:

  1. Printing your own money during a currency crunch.
  2. Teaching an alcoholic how to build a still when alcohol taxes go through the roof.
  3. Hammering your thumb to take your mind off of your leg being cut off.
  4. Fiddling while Rome burns.

Answer and discuss.

3 thoughts on “Public Policy as an SAT Question”

  1. E. Using a nicotine patch to get off your cigarette addiction.

    A lot of these alternative fuel ideas sound great, but unfortunately, for now they require oil to build the resources neccessary to operate and run them.

  2. Yeah, many of the alternative fuels proposed seem like bad ideas. The radical idea I’ve had is this: get all coal- and oil-fired electrical plants off the grid, replaced by solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric [not sure what’s left that can be dammed that isn’t], and nuclear, then go to coal-to-liquids. This has to be done hand-in-hand: C2L is very much a CO2 emitter, so you have to pull coal out of the electrical power generation grid to get the C2L stuff online. C2L can power us for a century or more, which gives us time to fully figure out a post-fossil-fuel economy.

    But I also know that figuring public policy for generations is a folly in a permanent election cycle.

    [For the record, I liked B and was going to make that analogy, but then I decided that the SAT approach was more stimulating of discussion.]

  3. Seriously, we need to turn American Free Enterprise loose to explore:
    Solar — Expensive now; may be economical in the future,
    Wind — Yes, in Oklahoma and Texas, but not near Boston,
    Water — We may endanger the Snail Darter,
    Nuclear — Follow France and Sweden (Snail Darter alert),
    Coal — We have more than most folks and the technology to clean it,
    Conservation — It is less expensive,
    while we are drilling.

    Let politicians and the (non technical) public argue the BEST solution while the technical folks find solutions that are better than what we have now. A wise quality guru once said, “the greatest deterent to better is best.” Then do it again, and again, and again . . .

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