World Goin’ One Way, People Another

Oh, sweet Jesus, please stop:

Clinton’s attacks on oil prices as artificially inflated, Enron-style, keep escalating, and today she appeared to threaten to break up the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
“We’re going to go right at OPEC,” she said. “They can no longer be a cartel, a monopoly that get together once every couple of months in some conference room in some plush place in the world, they decide how much oil they’re going to produce and what price they’re going to put it at,” she told a crod at a firehouse in Merrillville, IN.
“That’s not a market. That’s a monopoly,” she said, saying she’d use anti-trust law and the World Trade Organization to take on OPEC.

Great, because I really think that what we need at this point is yet another reason for Venezuela, Bolivia, and the Gulf states to hate us. I think we can all agree that their grievances aren’t severe or numerous enough already. This is diplomatic idiocy bordering on malfeasance.
On a purely economic level, she’s right: OPEC is a cartel, and prices would be lower if national oil companies didn’t coordinate. This fits with her emerging strategy of focusing on gas prices as the only bad thing in the world. But both this, and that larger narrative, shows a real lack of sophistication. It’s easy to say that gas prices ought to be lower. It’s also easy to say that we should curb greenhouse gas production and become more energy independent. It’s a contradiction to say we should do both. Nearly every economist, environmentalist, etc. agrees that the most effective way to wean the United States off of fossil fuels and foreign oil is a carbon tax or, functionally equivalent, a fully-auctioned cap-and-trade system. Both of these things would, necessarily, increase the price of gas, as well they should; the best way to discourage consumption of oil is to make its consumption more costly.
So Clinton has a choice. She can continue with this demagoguery on gas prices, or she can give a damn about global warming. She can’t do both.

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