Stimulate This

It seems like all the members of the new Congress have their own ideas on how to properly boost the economy and stimulate job growth. It’s their number-one agenda item.

Problem is, they tend to fall into two opposing camps on how to best achieve that. The Democrats, in general, seem to think that the best way is to find those who still have money, take it away from them, and then spend it in ways they think will best help the economy. The Republicans, in general, want to let folks keep their own money and spend it in ways that they think best. It boils down to who you believe will spend people’s money more wisely — the federal government or the folks who currently possess it.

 OK, not quite. “Who has the right to spend the money people currently possess” is a bit more accurate.

Anyway, there’s an option that hasn’t been kicked around much. There’s one thing that has, traditionally, always prompted economic growth and development. It’s something that the government can do quite easily. And it’s one thing that I haven’t seen or heard proposed.

Cheap energy.

Think about it. What would happen if Congress were to act and make creating and using energy substantially cheaper for everyone?

And it wouldn’t be that hard. Just look at ways where the government makes energy more expensive or difficult to access or create or use, and cut them out.

Such as, say, fuel taxes. Cut ’em. Even a 10% or 25% cut on tax rates for fuels would make a huge difference.

Or restrictions on new energy sources. Get rid of the ban on offshore oil drilling and ease up on some of the regulations for energy exploration and development.

Speaking of regulations… there are at least a few dozen different gasoline blends legally mandated around the country, by region. Cut back on a few of those, make gasoline more fungible and less expensive, and that would be a nice boost for most Americans.

And, needless to say, get rid of “cap and trade.” Even its supporters admit that one of its main effects would be to jack up the cost of energy across the board.

Historically speaking, cheap energy has been the greatest driving force for social, technological, and economic development. It has been the greatest boon to humanity imaginable. Unleashing just a smidgen of its power on our current economic state could work wonders.

The biggest obstacle, of course, is that it would require the federal government to give up power and money (which is just another form of power, really), and that is one of the hardest things for the government to do. But it would be a hell of a way for the new Congress to demonstrate that it really does intend to be different.

And it could work wonders for the nation.

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