Socialism Won't Lower the Cost of Gas

by | Mar 29, 2011

Oil and gas prices are higher than ever, and are going still higher. Everybody knows it. The oil-producing Middle East is becoming more unstable than ever before, with the active help and participation of the United States — in Libya, for example. Everybody knows it. Obama is feeling the heat. Facing pressure to curb rising […]

Oil and gas prices are higher than ever, and are going still higher.

Everybody knows it. The oil-producing Middle East is becoming more unstable than ever before, with the active help and participation of the United States — in Libya, for example. Everybody knows it.

Obama is feeling the heat. Facing pressure to curb rising gas prices, Obama is calling for the U.S. to reduce its oil imports by one-third over the next decade, a lofty goal likely to run into significant obstacles. Senior administration officials say Obama will seek to reduce the U.S. dependence on foreign oil by boosting domestic energy production, offering incentives to increase the use of biofuels and natural gas, and making cars and trucks more fuel-efficient.

Don’t you think that if biofuels and natural gas did the job as well or better than oil, that a free market would be demanding these fuels?

There’s a reason these fuels are not in great demand. To consumers, they don’t do the job required to heat their homes, run their cars and trucks, and get around life at a reasonable price. If they did, there would be profit to be made and fuel companies would be meeting the demand because of the profit motive.

To Obama, profit and demand have nothing to do with it. To a socialist and collectivist like Obama, the problem is collective will. The only thing that gets things done, according to a socialist, is the force of government exercising what it considers rational collective will. Obama is quoted as saying, “We’ve still got a lot of work to do on energy.”

Who is “We”? By “We” does Obama mean consumers in the marketplace who are able and willing to pay for a different kind of fuel? If so, both existing and new fuel companies would be lined up at the potential profit of doing so. No other “We” would be required.

But that’s not what Obama means. Liberals like Obama seem to really believe that the horse and buggy was replaced by the automobile because of … collective action, fostered by government. They actually believe that innovation, invention and radical changes in technology all come about because of government. In reality, just the opposite is true.

These things happen in spite of government, not because of it.

Government has a very important role to play by protecting property rights, thus enabling the profit incentive in the private sector to do its thing. But beyond that, government only gets in the way.

Both liberals and conservatives make the mistake of thinking that government can somehow “manage” new technologies once they come into being. At best, this sort of Republicrat government intervention only slows innovation down. But a true blue liberal/socialist like Obama actually thinks the answer to the oil crisis is for government to coerce people into using different forms of fuel, ones he considers cleaner, safer, and more correct.

Imagine if government had hindered development of the automobile, saying that the collective will should be directed towards something different– something not profitable or tenable, but something a particular President thought was a better idea than the cars people wanted. We’d probably all still be riding horses.

Obama is saying that the key to slashing oil prices is to reduce foreign dependency on oil. This sounds a lot like Jimmy Carter back in the 1970s. Like Carter, Obama offers no specifics. He merely says that things should be different. Obama has no remote understanding of economics. If we reduced the foreign importation of oil, this would reduce supply relative to demand — and raise the cost of gas much, much higher. On top of this, Obama wants to prevent oil production in the Gulf of Mexico or Alaska, on American territory. If we do both of these things, how are we supposed to reduce the price of oil? How do you reduce the cost of oil by drastically lowering its supply?

There can only be one answer, although Obama will never state it: By allowing and encouraging the cost of gas to go unprecedented levels, it will force Americans to turn to alternative forms of fuel. But no such fuels exist to genuinely compete with oil. If they did, they’d be on the market now and demand for them would be massive. Biofuels, for example, are only in the research stage and there’s no guarantee they’ll ever do the job. What are we supposed to do: Give up gasoline (as many will start to do when it approaches $6, $10, $15 a gallon) and simply wait for better technology, technology that Obama approves of?

Everybody says that it’s wrong to be ideological, and that instead we should simply concentrate on solving problems. But all solutions are based on ideas. There is no solution or policy without an ideology implicit in it. Obama’s ideas are very real, detectable and remarkably philosophically consistent for a politician. He believes that changes in human action should come about not by the rationality of science and the efficacy of capitalism, but instead through collective will that he — and socialists like him — deem proper.

The real-life, concrete consequence of this ideology is that gas prices will continue to rise and there will be little or nothing to replace oil-based fuel. Life will become more expensive and more difficult than we’ve ever known it. None of this would have been necessary had Americans not fallen for the false belief that ideas don’t matter — and in the process delivered themselves into the bleak future that Obama has prepared for us.

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at:

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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