I was recently listening to a podcast of Peter Singer at the University of Chicago Law School. He recounted a story about a 2001 press conference with Ari Fleischer, where the President’s spokesman was asked if the administration would ask Americans to “change lifestyles” in order to conserve. Here’s the answer:
That’s a big no. The President believes that it’s an American way of life, and that it should be the goal of policy makers to protect the American way of life. The American way of life is a blessed one.
Now the blessings of our liberty are subsidizing some of the most repressive regimes on the planet:
[About] $700 billion a year are flowing to the world’s oil-exporting countries [due to recent price rises]. Two of those nations — Iran and Venezuela — may be better able to defy the Bush administration because of swelling oil revenue. . . . .Russia, the world’s No. 2 oil exporter . . . . is trying to reclaim former Soviet republics as part of its sphere of influence. Freed of the need to curry favor with foreign oil companies and Western bankers, Russia can resist what it views as American expansionism.
Might the great oil wealth redistribution lead to the end of knee-jerk libertarian defenses of SUV’s? Or is there some Schumpeterian “creative destruction” story to be told here, whereby the short-run costs speed the development of transformational energy technologies? I’ll believe the latter story when I see real venture capital money behind it.
Photo Credit: Hugo Chavez, Dictator of the Month.