Out of Control Policy Blog

Roving Economic Nonesense

Former Bush advisor Karl Rove has an excellent article in the Wall Street Journal on the silly economic populism spouted by both presidential aspirants. Both McCain and Obama are chastizing Big Oil and US energy companies for not sinking even more money into risky and money losing alternative energy technologies.

Instead ask this: Why should we stop with oil companies? They make about 8.3 cents in gross profit per dollar of sales. Why doesn't Mr. Obama slap a windfall profits tax on sectors of the economy that have fatter margins? Electronics make 14.5 cents per dollar and computer equipment makers take in 13.7 cents per dollar, according to the Census Bureau. Microsoft's margin is 27.5 cents per dollar of sales. Call out Mr. Obama's Windfall Profits Police!

McCain is not spared by Mr. Rove either. He writes:

This past Thursday, Mr. McCain came close to advocating a form of industrial policy, saying, "I'm very angry, frankly, at the oil companies not only because of the obscene profits they've made, but their failure to invest in alternate energy."

But oil and gas companies report that they have invested heavily in alternative energy. Out of the $46 billion spent researching alternative energy in North America from 2000 to 2005, $12 billion came from oil and gas companies, making the industry one of the nation's largest backers of wind and solar power, biofuels, lithium-ion batteries and fuel-cell technology.

All this bodes terribly poorly for private enterprise after this November's election.

Samuel Staley is Research Fellow


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