Chu Eats Dirt

At The Corner, Iain Murray reproduces this wonderful dialogue between Obama’s Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, and Congressman Cliff Stearns, in a House hearing yesterday:

REP. CLIFF STEARNS, R-Fla.: Last September you made a statement that somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe, which at the time exceeded $8 a gallon. As Secretary of Energy, will you speak for or against any measures that would raise the price of gasoline?

SEC. CHU: As Secretary of Energy, I think especially now in today’s economic climate it would be completely unwise to want to increase the price of gasoline. And so we are looking forward to reducing the price of transportation in the American family. And this is done by encouraging fuel-efficient cars; this is done by developing alternative forms of fuel like biofuels that can lead to a separate source, an independent source of transportation fuel.

REP. STEARNS: But you can’t honestly believe that you want the American people to pay for gasoline at the prices, the level in Europe?

SEC. CHU: No, we don’t.

REP. STEARNS: No. But somehow, your statement, “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe,” doesn’t that sound a little bit silly in retrospect for you to say that?

SEC. CHU: Yes.

The dialogue, unfortunately, ends there. Mr. Chu was not called on to explain how he could have been so “silly” in September but so wise now, seven months later, or what caused him to change his mind. It seems obvious that Chu said what he really thought in September, and now repudiates that view because it is politically untenable. But was Chu’s statement that we need to boost the price of gasoline to European levels really much different from Barack Obama’s comment, in the midst of last year’s meteoric energy price increases, that it would have been better if prices had increased more gradually? Or Obama’s willingness to see electricity prices “skyrocket” as a consequence of cap and trade?

The truth is that liberals generally want higher energy prices. This is because they are either unconcerned with, or actively hostile to, economic growth. They think the world is rich enough already. (The common belief among liberals that there are too many people in the world rests on a similar foundation.) Thus, they are content to see energy prices rise, even though such increases necessarily dash the hopes of lower and middle-income Americans for greater prosperity.

The liberals who hold these views generally enjoy material circumstances consistent with their view that the world is rich enough already–for them, it is. But they know it is impossible, politically, to state clearly what they are up to–limiting the aspirations of their fellow Americans for prosperity and material success. So it is nice when, every once in a while, the truth comes out.


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