Monday, December 7, 2009

Fueling Dependency

A local guy has been creating bio-diesel fuel from canola oil.  He has been invited to the White House to talk about bio-diesel, and he's been invited for a second visit.  That's cool stuff.  The local economy could also benefit from a new agricultural product.

But something about this news really bothers me.  This local businessman is lobbying the federal government for laws to "level the playing field" in the fuel industry.  That way bio-diesel will have a better chance.  In short, he is calling for taxes on petroleum products and subsidies for bio-diesel fuels.

I understand the need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.  I'm all for that.  But I'm also for the free market.  If bio-diesel is so great, then it will be able to compete on its own merits.  Getting the government involved is a huge mistake.  Only in recent years has the government stepped out of tobacco farm subsidies.  Do we really want to create another federal program to administer more agricultural welfare?

What really bothers me is the notion that we have to rely on the government to advance any idea, product or industry..  If only Washington will help us out, then we can get something done.  Whether it's medical research, growing tobacco, getting smokers to quit or stopping AIDS, many people believe that Washington has to do something.  That's the worst kind of dependency.

But in a free market, good ideas flourish on their own merits.  The interference of government only conmlpicates and impedes the process.