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August 28, 2008

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Nato

"why can't we leave it to the market to decide on fuel-efficiency standards?"

Presumably because there remain uncorrected negative externalities to fuel usage. Fuel standards are probably not the best way of handling this, of course, but raising gas taxes probably isn't politically feasible.

My brother suggested something the other day: once gas prices start dropping again, the government should institute a standing tax to soak up some percentage of the delta between the peak and current prices. Of course, it would make revenue really sporadic, but it would continue to encourage people to minimize gas use for the long term.

As an aside on the illegal immigration question: the employer does indeed benefit from the worker being illegal (so that the employer can treat the worker less well), and perhaps the employer's customers as well, depending on the savings passed on. However, the employee's illegality hurts him and probably hurts consumers as a class, since the worker is probably considerably less productive than he would be otherwise.

Nathan knows this, of course, but perhaps he thought Obama was advocating a position in which the worker is not there at all. In context, I think this is a mistake. Though he's not throwing it in (rent-seeking) labor's face, he's clearly of a mind that the way to eliminate illegal immigration is to make it legal, not prevent immigration.

Nathan Smith

"Presumably because there remain uncorrected negative externalities to fuel usage. Fuel standards are probably not the best way of handling this..."

Exactly, they are definitely not. Taxes are the correct way to handle it. If people are willing to internalize the externality costs of driving fuel-inefficient vehicles, the government should let them. McCain is right, Obama is wrong.

"Nathan knows this [about immigration], of course, but perhaps he thought Obama was advocating a position in which the worker is not there at all."

Heh. Yeah, you're right, I was... and this could be read either a "close the borders" pitch, or an amnesty pitch. Appeal to nativists and migrant-rights people at once in one ingeniously ambiguous phrase! Brilliant. The "blank screen," inviting everyone to project their desires onto him, strikes again! What a snake-oil salesman.

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