John Stossel

Even if they did try, we'd still get their oil. All the world's oil ends up in the same bathtub. The dictator sells to someone who sells to someone who will then sell to us. Chasing energy "independence" is pointless. Free trade is better. It makes us richer and more secure.

Yet among those pushing for subsidies, along with Gore, is someone smart: oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens. He'll be a guest on my TV show, too.

You've probably seen Pickens in his television ads, saying: "I have a plan! We can unleash wind power to free up America's natural gas to power our big trucks and bus fleets. And save billions of American dollars."

But if we can save billions by using wind and natural gas, why do he, Vice President Gore and today's Congress need our tax dollars? If there is a good alternative to oil, it won't need subsidies. The free market will simply make it appear. Let the entrepreneurs compete.

Pickens' commercials say: "Over $700 billion are leaving this country for foreign nations every year. That's four times the cost of the Iraqi war. We need action."

But that's misleading. The $700 billion leave America for a reason. We get useful oil for the money. Trade is a win-win situation. There's no comparison with destructive war spending.

Pickens' website carries videos about how good government-subsidized windmills are for towns like Sweetwater, Texas.

Windmills may be great for Sweetwater, but that only looks at what's seen. What's unseen are all the people who are hurt because they are taxed to pay for Sweetwater's windmills. That money could have gone elsewhere. It's the broken-window fallacy identified by 19th-century French free-market economist Frederic Bastiat. Maybe Fox will let me break a window to make the point.

Pickens is wrong. We don't need government to choose which fuels to subsidize. The free market is the way to go.


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