Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Feedback Loop

Sometimes, the breathtaking dimness just bedazzles me:
So far this week, four of the world's top five oil companies have announced more than $24 billion in third quarter profits. And by the logic of Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), that should mean those oil companies deserve more subsidies, not less.

Speaking at a town hall meeting Oct. 22 in his home state of Florida, Stearns displayed a very sketchy grasp on how subsidies should work, explaining to Climate Progress that incentives should be given to mature companies, not early-stage companies.

"When somebody is successful, then you give them the subsidies and the tax credit," explained Stearns, talking to Climate Progress. In short, the rich get richer. This is how the 1% operate. No wonder income inequality is growing in this country.

For those in the slow section of the class, that's the exact opposite of how subsidies are supposed to work. Now, ideally, in a pure capitalist society there are no such thing as subsidies. But I'm not a pure capitalist, and subsidies often make sense as a way to get a new industry off the ground in the face of entrenched competition (e.g., environmental energy), or to maintain a public service that wouldn't be able to fund itself (roads, other public transportation options). The one area where subsidies make no sense is as some sort of governmental bounty for the already-profitable.

1 comment:

PG said...

I don't know if he's very singular among conservatives in thinking this way. It's a famous line from Reagan:
"Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it."

When this line is delivered to a conservative crowd, everyone understands it as self-evidently wrong and absurd.