Waiting for Superman

Well, when Michelle Bachmann promises something she really shoots for the moon.

At a town hall meeting in Greenville, S.C., today, Michele Bachmann said if she became president gas prices would fall dramatically.

“Under President Bachmann you will see gasoline come down below $2 per gallon again. That will happen,” Bachmann said, according to The Hill.

There’s no word on whether she added that that the rise of the oceans would begin to slow as well.

Certainly there are things that the federal government could do to help cut gas prices.  Lowering gasoline taxes, opening up more areas for drilling and cutting back on regulations might put a dent on gas prices, but these measures would only go so far.  Oil is a global commodity.  Or, to quote from one of the snarky commenters at NRO, what is she going to, make the Chinese stop consuming oil?

Daniel Foster also helps put her comments into perspective.

The only policies I can think of that would surely accomplish the $2.00 a gallon target are:

1) The seizure by force and nationalized exploitation of a large proportion of the world’s oil supply.

2) The massive federal subsidization of fuel costs.

3) The fomenting of a second global recession as bad as or worse than the last one, complete with negative global GDP growth.

Gas prices could fall below $2 per gallon were Bachmann to get elected, but it would not principally be due to policy measures of the government.

This sort of political messiahnism is an annoying trend in our politics, but it’s doubly depressing coming from a conservative.  It’s one thing for a leftist like Barack Obama to promise the sun, the moon, and the stars, but one would not expect such unrealistic promises from someone touting themselves to be a limited government conservative.

Unfortunately this lack of perspective on the office of the presidency and the powers within that office runs both ways.  We have candidates who make ridiculous promises, but that’s augmented by a populace with unrealistic expectations of what our government can accomplish.  And I think those unrealistic expectations are what turns so many people into cynics, especially come election time.  It feeds a seemingly contradictory pair of attitudes about the presidential race.

Since we’re awaiting the rise of some kind of political Messiah, we become jaded when we see a selection of imperfect candidates.  No candidate can possibly meet our lofty expectations of what a presidential candidate should be, and that expectation is essentially that the person should almost totally be like us.  The slightest variation from our own orthodoxy is a sign of impurity, and as such the candidate is automatically dismissed.  It is impossible for a mere mortal to live up to every one our political desires, and so we dismiss the whole lot as undeserving of our attention.

Then, when we discover a political candidate that does meet our high bar, that person gets built up beyond all imagining.  We saw this with candidate Obama in 2008, and we saw it in 2008 and again in 2012 with Ron Paul.  We’re also seeing traces of this with Sarah Palin.  Certainly all candidates have their devoted followings, but a dangerous cult of personality seems to take hold with certain figures.  We (and we have all been guilty of this with some candidate, I am sure) have found the person that is going to solve all the country’s woes.  Any criticism, however mild, is a form of heresy.  This attitude, which is completely opposite the tendency described in the previous paragraph, is just as unhealthy for the body politic.

No candidate or politician is perfect.  They all have their warts.  Once you realize this then you can stop searching for the perfect candidate and settle for the very good (hopefully).  On the other hand, once you realize this hopefully you can be more sensitive to the fact that your preferred candidate is not above reproach.  Finally, once we realize that there is no perfect politician, then we can stop building our expectations of what any single individual or group of individuals within the government can accomplish.  This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t hold their feet to the fire and hold them responsible for their failings, only that it does us no good to pretend that they can wave magic wands and cure all our ills.

24 Responses to Waiting for Superman

  • Is a pro-lifer who doesn’t reject 10-to-1 cuts-to-revenue really too much to ask? Thing is there are plenty of bloggers who fit the bill. Just no presidential candidates. Shouldn’t I expect at least as much from my president as I expect from bloggers?

  • “Shouldn’t I expect at least as much from my president as I expect from bloggers?”

    Beats me as to why RR. I expect things from bloggers that I would never expect from Presidents and vice versa. In regard to revenue I think the term you are really searching for is “taxes” as almost all “revenue” received by government consists of good old fashioned taxes. Any candidate who pledges never to use “revenues” when he means “taxes” will at least earn a thumbs up from me.

    In regard to Bachmann, she needs to learn that every misstatement she makes will reach a national audience. As to the substance of her claim, I doubt it is possible. However, I have no doubt that if all restrictions in regard to drilling were lifted in the continental US that prices might well decline, at least initially.

  • However, I have no doubt that if all restrictions in regard to drilling were lifted in the continental US that prices might well decline, at least initially.

    Undoubtedly, though perhaps not for a long time and not by the amount needed to get us below $2. Regardless, I’d favor removing these restrictions.

  • Removing all EPA restrictions in regard to gasoline mixtures might have a downward impact on price. Bachmann, or any candidate, could gain quite a bit of voter enthusiasm by simply noting the various ways in which government regulations increase the cost of gasoline at the pump.

  • Too many politicians and their staffs miss opportunities by simply going with a dramatic tag line instead of doing basic research and providing a list of policy recommendations that could grab voter support. In our soundbite age I think they underestimate too many voters.

  • President Bachmann cannot possibly make things worse than would Obama with four more years.

    Four more years!!! Obama has not finished us, yet.

  • I think part of Obama’s issue lies in the fact that he’s so intelligent. I obviously don’t mean wise. I mean intelligent. And when you’re like that, you think and talk till the cows come home, and you believe every word you say. Intelligent (and not so intelligent) people believe you, too. Those who are wise don’t.

  • France is a very intelligent country.

  • There are real things we can do to reduce consumption of petroleum products, though $2.00 per gallon is very unlikely. Furthermore, I don’t think that Bachmann has considered these things.

    Convert all rail road transportation to electric and use nucler power plants to provide the electricity,
    Convert all major cargo shipping to nuclear – precedence has been set with 10 nuclear powered air craft carriers and 40 nuclear powered submarines

    True, these measures would reduce diesel vice gasoline consumption, but it’s a start.

    And yes, France is intelligent with 70+ % electricity from nuclear and the lowest electricity prices in Europe. The Iralians de-nukes themselves after Chernobyl. Now they import their electricity from nuclear France.

    Furthermore, nuclear energy can be used to provide the heat necessary to make liquid fuels from coal via the Fischer-Tropsch process. The process isn’t all that efficent or cost effective right now, but that’s because we constrain the cost of the heat source to make drilling in the ground in lands of Islamic fascism so much more attractive.

    BTW, the US actually gets most of its imports of oil from Canada. This frees up Islamic oil for Europe. Who gets rich? Govt politicians on oil taxes and the sultans intent on our destruction. But really, we could generate our own oil or even move away from a fossil fuel based economy. How about boron for combustion:

    http://www.eagle.ca/~gcowan/235_248.pdf

    Use nuclear electricity to provide de-oxidized boron. It can be done. Graham R.L. Cowan proposed this idea at a pro-nuclear power Yahoo message board more than a decade ago. He wrote the article linked above for the International Journal of Nuclear Hydrogen Production and Applications, Volume 1, Number 3, 2008. And yes, obviously the article is a serious one with lots of chemical equations and calculations for the detractor.

    I am always amused when philosophers and theologians and especially politicians (left or right) start talking about energy. Here’s the basic rule: energy and matter can neither be created nor destroyed, only interchanged. Start there. Then when you use the facts you’ll see high oil and gas prices are caused by us and are entirely artificially created through greed. Do you really think the oil companies would like to see Graham Cowan’s idea succeed?

  • pat,

    Can you provide evidence of 0 intelligence?

    I agree he is not wise. Nor is he charitable, experienced, hard-working, knowledgeable, honest, or skilled in anything except glibly shilling this ruinous “three-card monte” game/Ponzi scheme. He is not a leader. A leader would not divide we the people into hate-filled factions (figuratively) clawing at each other.

    One of our biggest national problem is the millions of terrorists (clueless academics, “intellectual/obama conservatives”, gov union thugs, looters, moochers) that think 0 is “so intelligent.”

    PS, That 0 above is not “O.”

  • Mrs. Bachmann and her husband are a remarkable pair of dynamos. That having been said, she seems to lack a sense of the relationship between acts and consequences. She seems to think that consequences are what you wish for and not things you have to investigate and understand.

    If we were to finance road construction and maintenance out of gasoline excises and auto registration fees, these assessments would have to be a great deal higher – by a factor of about 7. The retail price of gasoline is not unreasonable, all things considered.

    If Bachmann wants to be a leader, she might tell her audience that the relative prices of various goods and services fluctuate in a market economy and that as long as overall levels of production and income are not declining, there is no point in complaining unless the price dynamics are a function of monopoly power or deficient public policy.

  • Couldn’t have said it better myself. There is no such thing as a political savior, and even the real Savior refused to be one for His followers who were hoping he’d overthrow the Romans and reestablish the Davidic dynasty. I know a lot of people don’t like the idea of voting for the lesser of two evils, but to be honest, I think that’s probably the best criteria to use… Don’t go looking for someone who will save the world and solve all our problems; just find the one who is likely to cause the least damage.

  • Gasoline was $2/gallon just 2.5 years ago. A double-dip recession is not inconceivable.

    “Under President Bachmann you will see gasoline come down below $2 per gallon again. That will happen.”

    I have no doubt because she will foment “a second global recession as bad as or worse than the last one, complete with negative global GDP growth.”

  • RR: You mean the Third Global Recession in 2013.

    The world is entering Global Recession II at this moment and, FYI, three follows two.

    We now know the Zero. Tele-Prompter-in-Chief will loquaciously aver, “It wasn’t me!” and, “We need to spend more!”

    Bachmann caused Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain to borrow more than they will ever be able to repay. Only way out: troubled debt restrucure wherein the owners of debt securities are repaid less and get it later than contract.

    Bachmann caused the German economy to stop growing.

    Bachmann caused the ECU to decline to issue one-Euro bonds.

    Bachmann is telling the Chinese how to destroy their economy.

    Ach du leiber! Michelle has global clout!

  • Another way would be to put the dollar on the gold standard. But then that $2.00 tied to gold would be the equivalent of about $10 of today (if not more). So nominally, yes, gas would be $2.00 a gallon (maybe less). But it would feel like $20 a galllon (or more).

  • I remember a Saturday Night Live skit fromt he late ’70s (when it was at least marginally funny). Dan Akroyd was playing Jimmy Carter, and gave a talk on how to cure inflation. The plan was to print lots of money and give it to everyone so that, even if prices rose, we’d all be millionaires and could afford it.

    What is the difference between that plan and quantitative easing?

    Rather than giving the money to everyone, it’s only given to a few well connected?

  • c matt, the difference is that we have no inflation right now.

  • What I meant to get at is that there’s a difference between intelligence and wisdom. Obama is very intelligent. Sometimes I think that gets in the way of real wisdom. Intelligence is just that. It’s like an I.Q. that’s just been measured. All it tells you is capacity. It doesn’t tell you whether it’s used in the right way. I think people often mistake the one for the other. I.Q. tells you nothing about a person’s morality, their common sense, their wisdom, or their actions toward other human beings or God. It simply measures your intelligence. Now what you do with it is a very different matter.

  • We’re finding out that there’s a lot more to what makes a person than I.Q. There’s their spiritual aptitude, as one might call it. Then there’s simply their spiritual state. Are you saved or not? Etc. You get the point.

  • “. . . we have no inflation now.”

    We have no jobs now.

    We have no money now.

    We have Obama’s inflated ego. He’s pushing on us his far-left ideology and fundamentally changing America for the worse.

  • I’m old enough to remember how quickly and how far the price of gasoline fell after President Reagan let the Carter-era price controls on gasoline and so-called windfall profits tax on domestic oil production lapse. The media’s talking heads and editorial-page scribblers predicted, of course, the result would be nothing but woe for the American consumer and huge profits for the oil companies who’d gouge them. None of the talkers and scribblers apologized afterward for (a) their errors nor (b) their calumnies.

    With both the practical example of history and the theory of the free market to support her contention, I’m confident Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann is correct. If she is elected President and has a co-operative Congress (instead of the Pelosi-Reid led bodies of Democrat obstructionist bodies President Bush ended his term with), she could act to restore a free market to production and supply of gasoline and this would dramatically lower prices at the pump.

  • Question: is government a business–and/ or should it be run that way? just wondering. Not quite the econnomics or political science type, but would like to hear from someone.

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