John Stossel

Don't Obama and Pickens realize that we get something useful for that money? It's not a "transfer"; it's a win-win transaction, like all voluntary trade. Who cares if the sellers live in a foreign country? When two parties trade, each is better off -- or the exchange would never have been made. We want the oil more than the money. They want the money more than the oil. They need us as much as we need them.

And Obama is wrong when he implies that America imports most of its oil from the Mideast. Most of it comes from Canada and Mexico.

McCain and Obama talk constantly about how much they will "invest" -- with money taken from the taxpayers, of course -- to achieve energy independence. "[W]e can provide loan guarantees and venture capital to those with the best plans to develop and sell biofuels on a commercial market," Obama said.

What makes Obama think he's qualified to pick the "best plans"? It's the robust competition of the free market that reveals what's best. Obama's program would preempt the only good method we have for learning which form of energy is best.

Has he learned nothing from the conceits of his predecessors? Jimmy Carter, saying that achieving energy independence was the "moral equivalent of war," called for "the most massive peacetime commitment of funds ... to develop America's own alternative". Then he wasted billions of our tax dollars on the utterly failed "synfuel" program.

McCain promises a $300-million prize to whoever develops a battery for an electric car. But the free market already provides plenty of incentive to invent a better battery. As George Mason University economist Donald Boudreaux writes, "Anyone who develops such a device will earn profits dwarfing $300 million simply by selling it on the market. There's absolutely no need for any such taxpayer-funded prize".

Central energy planning and government-funded prizes are economic idiocy.


John Stossel

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at >johnstossel.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. ©Creators Syndicate