Throw Away Those Tire Gauges!

So, how should we deal with our energy needs? By aggressively seeking new sources of energy, including domestic petroleum reserves that would have been accessed already but for Congressional bans, or by inflating our tires, turning down our air conditioning, staying home instead of going on vacation, and generally accepting a less prosperous future?

This question has been posed to the American people at least once before. In 1980, they decisively rejected Jimmy Carter’s prescription of sweaters and lowered expectations in favor of Ronald Reagan’s pro-growth policies, which included rescinding the “windfall” profits tax on oil companies and the price controls that discouraged domestic oil production. This Rasmussen survey indicates that Americans will answer the question the same way in 2008. By a blowout 81 percent to 9 percent margin, respondents say that finding new sources of energy is an urgent national priority. By 65 percent to 28 percent, Americans say that finding new energy sources is more important than reducing energy consumption.

The Democrats are on the wrong side of the biggest issue of the day, and still haven’t figured out what to do about it.

One more comment on tire inflation–hopefully the last–and the broader issue of energy conservation.

There is a fundamental difference between developing new energy resources and using less energy, whether through tire inflation, canceled vacation plans, or whatever. I don’t need the government to tell me to maintain my car. I’m already doing that. As John McCain said yesterday, Obama’s obsession with tire inflation isn’t an energy policy, it’s a public service announcement. Likewise, I don’t need the government to tell me that if I want to save money I should drive less, buy a smaller car, turn off my air conditioning, or whatever. These are basic facts of life that everyone knows. We do, however, need the government to increase energy supply–not because the government should go into the energy business, but because various statutes and regulations are now blocking private industry from developing energy reserves. Government action is necessary because past, ill-advised government action is the problem.

For politicians to hector us to reduce our energy consumption in the face of rising prices is both unnecessary and condescending. Out of necessity, most of us will do that. But a lowered standard of living isn’t the solution to the problem of high energy costs, it is the problem. If the Democrats haven’t figured that out by November, they could be in big trouble.

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