Thursday, September 25, 2014

Answering Linda Stamato on Oil Company Tax Breaks, Subsidies, and Other Matters

Linda Stamato is one of those intellectual activists who does not shy away from getting “down and dirty” with the riff-raff in the comments section. For that, I give her credit, especially considering most of the correspondents are hostile to her arguments. I respect and appreciate her willingness to intellectually engage.

Yesterday, I posted some analysis of her New Jersey Star-Ledger article Climate March could be the Occupy Movement’s most noble progeny. Stamato subsequently posted several comments in rebuttal to opposing viewpoints. Here is my reply to selected quotes from Stamato’s most meaty comment:

“The U.S. wastes more than $4 billion a year by giving oil and gas companies tax breaks that do not benefit consumers or the economy. . .”

It’s not a waste to the productive oil and gas companies, who get to keep more of the money they earn. Since these companies earn money by providing valuable, affordable products to consumers, consumers benefit. Since the companies and their customers are part of the economy, the economy benefits. The economy is not some mystical entity apart from the individuals who produce and trade, to which sacrificial offerings of productive companies must be made.

“If the preference of some readers is to get government out of energy markets, why allow these subsidies to continue?”

First, let’s distinguish between tax breaks and subsidies. A tax break allows the company to keep more of what it earns. A subsidy is a direct transfer from taxpayers to the company. The $4 billion are not subsidies. It is money earned by oil and gas companies.

Having said that, I’ve called for eliminating all energy subsidies, including so-called “green energy” subsidies (which really are subsidies). I’ve also called for lowering and flattening the corporate income tax in exchange for eliminating the myriad special tax provisions that lard up the code.

“. . . whether you believe climate change is a serious matter or you don't . . .”

Finally, I accept that the climate is changing, and fossil fuel use is contributing to it. But I utterly reject that human-caused climate change is bad. We’ve heard predictions of disaster for at least 50 years, starting with Paul Ehrlich. Yet in that time, fossil fuel use has doubled globally, the climate has not perceptibly changed, and billions more people have gotten access to electricity,  bountiful food production powered by fossil fuels, and better, longer lives overall. The only climate disasters exist inside “experts’” computer models, which continue to be spectacularly wrong. The market has spoken. Despite massive subsidies, green energy has failed to deliver, and the market—i.e., the people—have overwhelmingly chosen reliable, affordable fossil fuel energy. Even Green Japan, site of Kyoto, turned to fossil fuels, not “renewables”, to recover from the nuclear shutdown after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake.

By all means, let’s leave green energy companies free to peddle their wares in a freely competitive market. But let’s level the economic playing field of energy, and leave more power to decide which is best in the hands of energy consumers rather than “experts” and their political masters.

[“This special treatment for the fossil-fuel industry . . . maintains the country's dependence on a finite natural resource that produces greenhouse gases that affect the climate.”]

The climate change ideologues are completely one-sided and non-objective, and thus dishonest. They have vastly exaggerated the risks of fossil fuels while ignoring it benefits, while greatly exaggerating the potential of green technologies—all the while demonizing opponents and refusing to address their counter-arguments. It’s a monumentally fraudulent movement.

Related Reading:

End All Corporate Welfare

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