Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Cheney goes too far

I think the Vice President gets a little carried away.

The story is really poorly written. It's all over the place. But the part that actually corresponds to the title says:

Vice President Dick Cheney said Tuesday that rising consumption and decreasing domestic production have led to high gasoline prices but also blamed his Democratic opponents and their opposition to the Bush administration's energy policies.

Price is a function of a lot of factors. When Dems blame Bush for the cost of gasoline, I think it's ridiculous. In the spirit of consistency, I think Cheney is being ridiculous as well.

That's not to say that government policies don't affect prices. I will agree with Cheney on certain principles. For example, if Congress taxes gas, gras prices will rise. That's basic. But I object to Cheney's boiling all of the many factors that go into gas prices down to a single, monolithic factor and putting that on Democratic shoulders.

I suspect that, had the story elaborated a little, Cheney's argument would go something like this. By opposing ANWAR drilling, supply is limited to those areas where oil is being drilling, and limited supply combined with increasing demand translates to increased costs. Because America isn't building new oil refineries, we don't have the refining capacity necessary to efficiently get new gasoline on the markets, and the lack of new refineries is due to enviro-whacko policies which make it impossible to build new refineries.

I don't dispute these basic premises in the macroscopic view, but on the microscopic levels I think the theories break part. For example, if we started drilling ANWAR tomorrow we wouldn't get oil out of it for years. And if we pumped ANWAR fast enough to make a significant effect on world oil prices, we would drain it in a very short time. The refinery issue actually perplexes me, because even if Texaco (for example) can't build a refinery in the U.S. due to excessive regulations, I'm sure Mexico, Guatemala or Honduras would appreciate a refinery (and the jobs that come with it). I can't imagine I'm the first person to think of that. So I suspect there's more to the issue than the simplified version suggests.

Mr. Cheney, I don't take Democrats seriously when they say things like "it's Bush's fault we pay too much for gas!" I'm not going to take you more seriously for making the same argument.