Dear Mr Obama,
I mocked Mr Icahn, and defended you because like many Americans, I believe we share a visceral feeling that the nation's recent path has been wayward - not only from the optimal, but even from the tolerably wrong. As such, I am of the opinion that it is incumbent upon the opposition - all opposition - to do whatever it takes to place the levers of power in the hands of those more watchful of the Public Interest, and of an integrity that does not call itself into question as a result of each new contract, policy change or executive order. I realize the Executive Branch is only part of the problem, but nonetheless am hopeful that with strong leadership, the worst of shameful parochial pork-barrel politics will recede in favor of the greater good. In this regard, despite my stated distaste for dishonesty, I would (so to say) turn a blind eye to the little white lies and truth benders emanating from the opposition, provided it insures a transfer of the stewardship of the state to those who treat it with the respect and fiduciary reverence it deserves, which, in its absence may realize the worst of the criticisms and vitriol of the anti-statists. I am aware of philosophical paradox of this view, but can stomach the inconsistency in favor of goodness of the outcome, though I say again, I am not proud of stooping this low, but at least am honest with myself about it.
With this preamble out of the way, I must express my concern to you over your rant yesterday regarding the rhetoric of windfall profits tax, which to an economist, and even one who is rooting for your success, sounded, well, just lame, and fell outside the box of "necessary little white lie" I am willing to sanction into the cauldron of demagoguery. And let it be said, it is not the fact of a windfall profits tax, but rather the cynical ad-hoc pandering of seizing from A and giving to B, that will likely result in (and I never thought I'd be parroting an API talking point) BOTH a reduction of supply, and a prolonging of the adjustment of The American consumer to the realities of constrained supply in a neo-Malthusian century, which ultimately is counter-productive to the objective.
You see, I have high expectations of the next government, despite the historically-based probability that it will remain unrequited. Long before you start with energy-sector Robin Hood-ism for short-term electoral boost, you need to define a forward-looking energy policy, and more importantly sell it to the people. That means it has to be seen to be fair - in the long-term and short term, and achieve objectives that are truly in the public's interest. Sacrifice must be universal, and create discomfiture across the spectrum. Indeed, IF you're going to dip into supply-side with the windfall profits tax, (which by the way, I have doubts since the slope is slippery to coal, fertilizer, and all manner of resource whose price has risen through no fault or action of said resource- "owners") then it must be seen as part of a generalized sacrifice that would likely include regressive carbon taxes, as well as a gluttony surcharge upon large boats, private aircraft and their fuel, and home energy use above a reasonably allocated household threshold. Now, the shame is that you are squandering this opportunity by suggesting you'll simply do the absurd - i.e. subsidize consumption by the poor. No. No. No. This is precisely what is hammering India and China presently, and is the antithesis of the longer-term public interest. Proceeds from levies that essentially discourage fossil fuel use should be used to accelerate the US move away from imported carbon towards sustainable, renewable sources - the market decide which be they CCS. wind, solar, geothermal, tidal, or all the aforementioned as well as investment in transit infrastructure that will likely be MORE viable and attractive in the future, rather than less.
Some think this is unsalable. I beg to differ and think it is eminently salable and attractive - to blue and red-staters alike, for its logical cornerstone embraces the market and the freedoms, liberties and energy of the people. You see, it needs to be explained as a crisis - and a shared-one at that. And crises require sacrifice, which can be sold provided there is a feeling that the burden is shared. Of course, no one needs the government to tell one precisely which sacrifice to make, or how to contribute positively to our collective future betterment. Everyone's sacrifice will be different according to each individuals values, and the market is undoubtedly powerful in its wisdom to select, fund and develop the best and most efficient technologies. Energy policy in America, contrary to other developed nations, has been skewed towards promoting consumption. This is simply daft in the present day, given America's poor and unbalanced international financial position, and the trends in global resource supply and demand. And each day we persist upon this course, we become poorer, and children even poorer then. No, the time has come for an energy policy promotes conservation, and wise use of resources. That is not only because it is in our interests in the long-run, but because even in the short-term, we simply cannot afford to do anything else, and continuing an ostrich approach by denying the inevitable only conspires to detract from the future public interest for short-term parochial gain of a few.
It will not be pleasant. But it could and should be just, and fair, and in everyone's heart, they will know it (if explained with sufficient passion and empathy) to be the right thing to do. Yet while all change is initially difficult, there is no reason to be pessimistic. America is at presently vastly wasteful in its use of energy and water. The savings from anyone and everyone from barely noticeable changes are immense and will immeasurably alter the balance. This will give time for the market and our ingenuity when applied to an objective, to come to fruition that will decidedly improve the financial and economic prospects of future generations.
So please, Mr Obama, take a pause from thinking with your mouth open, and stop with the short-term demagoguery which in any event will be unmasked before November, and instead think with the Big Picture Systemic Vision of policy that enlists every American to overcome the challenges wrought by two decades of rudderless administration and eight years of bassackwardness and corrupt plundering that at once is patriotic, economically sensible, and finally, for a change, in the interests of our children, not to their detriment.
Good luck, and good night.