Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Panic Over Gasoline Prices Only Serves Putin - WSJ

Unfortunately all this manifests a deeper problem that isn’t down to Trumpism, Bidenism or any other ism. The nature of Western politics has evolved in the post-Cold War era. It undermines its own best strength, the ability of market-based economies to adapt, innovate and roll with punches.

Having broadly if unsatisfactorily addressed basic problems (food, housing, health, income security), it’s hard to see that Western politics in the intervening decades has consisted of anything other than enabling what economists call “rent-seeking,” or the frittering away of competitive dynamism in payola for organized interests.

This is a column, not a book, so let three examples suffice: the U.S. ethanol mandates (payola for farmers) that distort the allocation of cropland at a time when food grains are needed; the Jones Act restrictions (for organized labor) that hinder the ability of oil products to be shipped between U.S. ports to help bring down prices; finally, in a class by themselves are America’s convoluted fuel-economy rules.

Though you won’t read it anywhere but here, these fuel-economy rules exist to generate rents from the large, protected U.S. pickup-truck market to fund various green priorities. As such they are a model for a greenhouse politics that threatens to be terminal for Western society but not in the way advocates think. Climate becomes the philosophical justification for systematizing rent-seeking across the entire economy.


In the pretty good movie Into the Wild we see towards the end a deluded young man attempt to survive in the Alaskan bush by shooting a moose. Unfortunately, it's fly season and all the meat he's killed is instantly devoured by the unbelievable masses of black flies that roil around his kill. You wouldn't think it would be so bad. How much can flies eat? Everything it turns out. They are that bad. This is our economy now.

| Permalink


Post a comment