John Stossel

He's convinced me. Then he moved on to more Republican candy: the claim that drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico and Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska would dramatically lower oil prices and move us toward energy "independence."

Taylor says such drilling would do neither. Yes, it would create wealth. New offshore fields might produce a million barrels of oil per day. While that would be good, the benefits are oversold. "We consume 15 million barrels of oil a day. We produce 5. We'd go to 6." Nice, but no game-changer.

Of course, subsidizing wind and solar makes even less sense. Taylor calls them 12th-century technologies. They require lots of land to produce forms of energy that are hard to store and hard to move, and are too variable throughout the year. Even if we covered most of America with wind farms, there's no guarantee that they'd produce energy when we need it.

Other junk science abounds: banning plastic shopping bags, as 10 cities have done, is pointless. Plastic bags take up a tiny fraction of landfills. When supermarkets are stopped from handing plastic out, people looking to dispose garbage buy more big, black plastic bags.

Banning incandescent bulbs, as Congress has done starting in 2012, is also pointless. The ban will have only the tiniest effect on America's energy use. In addition, fluorescent bulbs often use as much power as incandescent bulbs because people leave them on longer.

People are ignorant enough about science that it's easy for politicians to scare them into supporting absurd regulations. For my show, I went to Times Square and asked if people would sign a petition demanding a ban on "dihydrogen monoxide," a colorless, odorless chemical that kills thousands. Most everyone signed.

They were embarrassed when they realized that dihydrogen monoxide is ... H2O. They eagerly endorsed a ban on water.


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