Jonah Goldberg

In 1977, when Jimmy Carter proposed the first windfall profits tax, he said through those enormous teeth, we "will ask private companies to sacrifice just as private citizens do." But corporations aren't normal citizens.

If you tell oil companies that they won't be able to keep their profits past a certain point, you know what they'll do? They'll make money right up until that point and then they'll stop. Unlike the guy building the better mousetrap, oil companies aren't in it for the glory, they're in it for the money. No oilman will go home hungry and wake up like Scrooge on Christmas morning, having repented because of a windfall profits tax.

Now, there will be plenty of punishment doled out, more than at a Belgian S&M club during recess at the European Parliament. But the crack of the windfall whip will land in unintended places. "Corporate sacrifice" means sacrificing share value, jobs and, most of all, reinvestment.

So people dependent on pension funds - union workers, government employees and the like - will be asked to sacrifice some of their retirement income. Jobs dependent on oil and gas extraction would be cut. And, as Schumer explains, money that would otherwise be invested in exploration and improved efficiency will instead be diverted to "alternative" energies that politicians (like Schumer) think are better investments.

No wonder Schumer's so cocky, given the boffo success of Washington's "investment" in ethanol, which costs more energy to produce than it provides, creates more greenhouse gasses than oil does, contributes to deforestation and is fueling the starvation of millions around the globe.

Meanwhile, less investment in exploration and efficiency will cause pump prices to rise (less supply = higher prices) and, as in the 1980s, cause us to rely on more foreign oil.

But, by all means, let's do it, because Big Oil is bad and someone - or everyone - has to pay for it.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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