Ethanol Shills Never Tire

This time it’s retired general Wesley Clark. The language is anything but honest, and unfortunately very convincing to the average reader.

It’s an $821-million-a-day addiction to foreign oil. That’s $300 billion a year, or about $1,000 for every American—man, woman, and child. In June we sent $27 billion abroad; in July it was over $29 billion.

If a foreign country came here and said, “Pay us this tax,” we would consider it an act of war. Yet when a political party discusses trying to recapture $300 billion a year in taxes, it’s political suicide. Americans pay billions of dollars per month to foreign countries—some of them incubators of terrorism, nearly all of them unstable dictatorships—and it isn’t even a campaign issue.

That means we are still talking about a tax, or tribute, of as much as $9 trillion sent abroad to pay for oil over the next twenty years—unless we get moving toward energy independence on other fronts.

What’s the difference between buying oil from foreign countries and a tax? If you ask General Clark, apparently there isn’t a difference.

Voluntarily importing oil from foreign countries is not even close to being a tax. Is anyone forcing you to pay to consume oil? Clark’s dishonest use of language is appalling.

There are too many half truths and misleading statements in his essay to explain them all in detail. Aside from the “buying products is equivalent to a tax” falsehood, Mr. Clark also preys on xenophobia by noting that “nearly all of [the countries we import oil from] are unstable dictatorships” (here are the top 15 countries by import). Moreover, he supports economically destructive protectionist policies; equates what Brazil has done with ethanol to something the U.S. is capable of (see here why the situations are not comparable); overstates the efficiency of ethanol in vehicles (see here for a realistic assessment); washes away the effect growing corn demand has on food prices; and–like most ethanol cheerleaders–blames the EPA for artificially constraining their industry.