Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Thomas Friedman: How to "help Iranians"? $1 "freedom tax" on gas!

The money excerpt:
Mr. Obama has already started some excellent energy-saving initiatives. But we need more. Imposing an immediate "Freedom Tax" of $1 a gallon on gasoline — with rebates to the poor and elderly — would be a triple positive: It would stimulate more investment in renewable energy now; it would stimulate more consumer demand for the energy-efficient vehicles that the reborn General Motors and Chrysler are supposed to make; and, it would reduce our oil imports in a way that would surely affect the global price and weaken every petro-dictator.

That is how — as Bill Maher likes to say — we make the bad guys “fight all of us.”

Sure, it would take time to influence the regime, but, unlike words alone, it will have an impact. I believe in “The First Law of Petro-Politics,” which stipulates that the price of oil and the pace of freedom in petrolist states — states totally dependent on oil exports to run their economies — operate in an inverse correlation. As the price of oil goes down, the pace of freedom goes up because leaders have to educate and unleash their people to innovate and trade. As the price of oil goes up, the pace of freedom goes down because leaders just have to stick a pipe in the ground to stay in power.
Some dictatorships don't seem to be too motivated by improved economic prospects, Iran already mismanages its oil industry, and we could develop our own oil. The whole justification for massive, hit-or-miss stimulus spending is that our economic situation is dire, right? So why would our economy be able to withstand the blow of artificially inflated energy prices? World Arrogance economic health also hurts the Mullahs.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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