Michael Barone
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This kicks back against the efforts of government under the Obama administration to restrict energy supply. The administration has shut down much offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico (even though President Obama cheered Petrobras' drilling off the shore of Brazil) and has been denying permits for oil drilling in Alaska that are needed to keep the pipeline pumping. This on top of environmental groups' successful attempts to prevent drilling on the desolate tundra of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The State Department has even been stalling on approving the Keystone pipeline from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, to refineries in Oklahoma and Texas. Environmental groups object to drilling techniques Canada allows.

It's unclear why we should feel called on to second-guess the internal regulations of a competent and environmentally conscious nation like Canada. And it's incomprehensible why we should want to keep out a plentiful supply of oil from a dependable and friendly neighbor.

There is a lesson here for public policy generally, including health care. No centralized government expert predicted the vast expansion in energy supply from hydraulic fracking. It was produced by decentralized specialists in firms subject to market competition.

Just as Friedrich Hayek taught, no central planner can know or foresee enough to produce the beneficial results regularly produced by competition in free markets regulated in accordance with the rule of law. And no central planner can accurately predict the course of innovation that can be achieved in decentralized markets.

That's something you might want to keep in mind when someone tells you that Medicare costs can be controlled by 15 members of an unelected board created by Obamacare. Better results and lower costs can be expected with the kind of market competition set up by the 2003 Medicare prescription drug law.

No one can tell you just how that will happen, just as no one was telling you three years ago just how hydraulic fracking would expand our energy supply. But it did. That's what market competition can do -- and government control can't.

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.

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Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM