The Instigator
dairygirl4u2c
Pro (for)
Losing
30 Points
The Contender
clsmooth
Con (against)
Winning
39 Points

the government should intervene in the transition of alternative fuels

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/27/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,605 times Debate No: 2240
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (18)

 

dairygirl4u2c

Pro

why the government should intervene more with alternative fuel.

people say the market will take care of itself. in the end, it will. but at what cost in the mean time? we should act now because we'll look back and see how much we've wasted on gasoline.

companies say they can make alternative biodesial fuels for a dollar a gallon. (using algae farms, or any organic material using bacteria to make ethanol from hte cellulose material, switch grass and other things more entergy intensive than corn etc.. and exemplified by brazil etc who are energy dependant right now from gas)
but, there's a catch 22 occuring. comanyies make alternative companies but often must put operations on hold. why? because there's no demand. the consumers who make demand say there's no supply. who can afford as a consumer to buy altnernative vehicles? the richer. does the rising prices right now of gasoline hurt them? not as much so they don't buy. but, even if they bought cars sometimes as they are now, there's still not much there in way of an infrastructure for the supply side.
the rich won't start buying more until it really starting hurting them. the poor won't do it cause they can't. the middle won't do it, probaly for the same reason. it's conventional wisdom that the rich are the ones who start these new technologies... and the conventional wisdom is probably true here too.

but, unlike many situations with conventinoal wisdom... for altrnernative fuel, waiting till the rich start teh technology isn't in the best interest of the country right now. that's because... for many other things, like buying a DVD player... fuel isn't something that's simply a perk as much, and isn't such a regular and substantial cost for the consumer. it has a noticable affect on the economy. fuel is the opposite.
while we're waiting for the rich to convert, what's happening? in the mean time, the poorer are spending their money on gas, or not being as productive as they could with cheaper gas or some gas at all. the middle class largely too. consider all that money they're spending on that, when they could be spending on an array of other things. all that money could have been going to the economy at large, instead of the pockets and costs of a few. (and foreignors, which is a major concern in and of itself)

to make it more of a practical example. say a new biodesial machine at a gas station costs fifty thousand. all that money that the poorer are wasting right now would have been more than enough to either subsidize or lend to that station. (you could lend the money to them... and ensur ethey make a tidy profit before they ever have to pay it back, if ever considering there's a risk they might not make money) if we invested in them as a government then, the effects would be much sooner, and the poorer and middle class would save more, and it'd be a boon to the economy. (plus all the jobs involved with the transitioning infrastructure) there'd be so much savings, you could even lend or subsidize biodisal plants too, though it'd probably not be needed for them.

government intervention is the way to break the catch 22 sooner when it'll make a difference for hte economy, than later when we'll look back and see all that wealth that has been squandered.
clsmooth

Con

You agree that "the market" will take care of our energy problems "in the end," but question "but at what cost in the mean time?"

The fact is that it is current government intervention that prevents the development of affordable alternative-energy sources right now. Oil, natural gas, and coal are subsidized to the tune of many, many millions of dollars each year; and pollutive energy providers are given liability protection via congressional legislation. In the absence of these subsidies and special legal rights, "dirty" energy sources would be much more expensive, thus allowing for the profitable development of alternatives.

The fact is that oil, natural gas, and coal are expensive right now -- more expensive than the prices at the pump or our heating bills would tell us. Our tax dollars work to keep prices lower than they otherwise would be. This is an immoral redistribution of wealth from low-energy users to energy gluttons. The best way to encourage conservation is to let the market accurately price energy without subsidies and other perks.

"WE should act now because WE'll look back and see how much WE've wasted on gasoline." Do we live in the former Soviet Union? In China, Cuba, or North Korea? No, we live in the United States of America. "We" should do anything at all -- it is not the government's duty to develop alternative fuels. The Department of Energy did not even exist until Jimmy Carter created it. What good has it ever done?

Energy autarky is not an appropriate goal. Japan imports virtually 100% of their energy needs and they are the second strongest country in the world. Saudi Arabia imports little/no energy, and they are a global weakling. In fact, countries strong in natural resources suffer from "Dutch Disease" and are typically economically stagnant.

The question is: Do we believe in the free market, or do we believe in socialistic central planning? My opponent is a Huckabee-ite, so if she stands with her candidate, she stands for the former. But sensible people know that the government is not smart enough to pick winners and losers, and the best thing it can do -- in every case -- is get out of the way and let private individuals and companies efficiently allocate resources to meet human needs. That is what markets do. It is not what governments do.
Debate Round No. 1
dairygirl4u2c

Pro

you really didn't even address the substance of my argument: ie, that intervening would be economically benefical compared to doing nothing.

only tangentally barely did you touch on it... all you did was show an example of where intervening is bad, ie with the gov subsidies to oil companies.

i agree we shouldn't have those subsidies. if we didn't, then my argument that we should intervene in the transition would have been subject much longer ago.

now, even though you didn't address my argument that it'd be economically better to intervene, contra the simple free market fundamentalist approach... here are some ideas for where this debate really should be headed.

-----------------------------

if we wait until the richer can feel it, all that money that's being squandered by teh poor and middle class isn't going to the economy at large
cause one thing i wasn't very explicit on. if they can make it for a dollar a gallon, and even if they sold it at 2 a gallon, which is what they say they'd be doing, it'd still work out right.
consider, that my google search says the average station produces 700000 gallons of fuel a year. if we have a better infrastructure sooner than later, then taken to the extreme that'd be instead of 3*700k it'd be 2*700k, with a 700,000 saving per station. that, in one year, would be more than enough to pay for a machine there. instead, we're waiting till the rich get pinched... we're wasting at most 700000 dollars a year per gas station.
i realize dthe numbers are made optimally for me, and there's a trasition period, but.
what the free market fundamentalist would say....wait till gas is 12 dollars a gallon... cause that's the only way the rich and the fuel stations are going to start doing anything: they're not going to do it sooner, cause the richer don't want to be inconvenienced by limited stations, and the stations won't do it, cause they have no consumers. and then, if we did it the free mar fun way, we'd have to wait for those new cars to trickle down.
clsmooth

Con

You don't grasp the problems with socialist calculation. It is impossible. All government intervention is inevitably counterproductive.

You agree that government should remove subsidies from the oil companies. Do you also agree it should remove its anti-capitalist extended "legal liability" protections? If so, then are you aware of how expensive "dirty" resources would be? Private investment in alternative energy sources would thereby be attractive for for-profit purposes. Why does the government need to get involved? Why does the government need to either tax, regulate, subsidize, or nationalize every activity known to man?

Again, you use this "we" word -- the ugliest word in the English language. Who is the "we" you speak of? Consumers? Consumers only "waste" money based on the government intervention that enshrines Big Oil and Gas. In the free market, consumers will efficiently allocate their scarce resources.

You think socialized alternative-fuel development is a good idea. A "New Deal" in energy. Which alternative do you suggest "we" subsidize? Bio-fuel? How do YOU know bio-fuel is the "right" alternative? How do YOU know that confiscated taxpayer dollars appropriated to bio-fuel will not be wasted? How do YOU know that whatever your chosen energy source, the artificial subsidy will not crowd out private investment in another alternative with greater potential? Do you suggest we just subsidize ALL alternative energy sources? What about ones that don't appear to have much potential at all? What if there is an alternative that will work from this underdog category? SOCIALISM CANNOT WORK. The free market can and will if it is allowed to.

I do admire my opponent for sticking to the socialist platform of her chosen presidential candidate. In Round 3, I hope to be further educated on nationalist energy autarky, in addition to collective agriculture, national welfare via the FraudTax "prebate", amending the Constitution to allow for theocracy, and other "conservative" causes that sound more like early 20th-century left-liberalism to me.
Debate Round No. 2
dairygirl4u2c

Pro

You seem to think throwing around the word "liberal" and socialist etc is an argument.
I'm more capitalist than I am liberal, by the way. And generally the free market is the optimal method. Just not here.
I recognize it's not wise to work in generalizations like "no government intervention ever"
But, you did pose some interesting questions. As a genberal answer, I would say there's a lot of fact specific questions out there, and it does all depend on the facts: that doesn't mean that someone isn't qualified to know what they're doing.

here's some likns where i got the 1 dollar and two dollar etc stuff. the links are good as per facts of what i'm referring to.
http://www.wired.com...
http://blog.wired.com...
http://www.wired.com...
http://www.businessweek.com...
http://en.wikipedia.org...
http://en.wikipedia.org...
http://media.cleantech.com...
http://media.cleantech.com...
http://crave.cnet.com...

i wouldn't be opposed to madating a tax on gasoline, so it'd be less tax payer confiscated from people who don't drive. (but practically speaking, everyone is affected by if you step back from vague theories of people in seclusion etc) really it should just be from taxes as everyone is taxed.

***whatever your chosen energy source, the artificial subsidy will not crowd out private investment in another alternative with greater potential? Do you suggest we just subsidize ALL alternative energy sources? What about ones that don't appear to have much potential at all?***
then we subsidize them all and see who wins, perhaps. but really, i'm sure there's people who know which are best though... you act like professionals are ignorant fools.
the underdog can get help from the government if they need it too.

just fyi, free market fundamentalists like to say government can't work ever etc... i think the reasons i'm describing are showing that it could work, if it's done right.
you have a point that practically speaking, it might not, given all the crazy sides.
my main point is that in theory, if it's done right... policy driven by the government can be done right, like i'd contend on this issue.

fyi, i'm not sticking to the platform of my chosen candidate... my issues are my own and i disagree with him on many things. my biggest pet peeve is people who are defined by artificial social conventions: political affiliations etc, instead of thinking for htemselves. but the good outweight the bad with my candiate.
clsmooth

Con

Well, my attempts to rattle you with insults have not worked. You have stood your ground, no matter how wrong you are. Kudos to you for that.

No one is smart enough to be a central planner. You admit that YOU are not smart enough, but who is? If there is someone smart enough, how do "we" (the dumb people) know enough to recognize that person?

Your premise is that Communism can work if only we can find an intelligent and benvolent dictator. I can assure you that Mike Huckabee is not that man! But more importantly, I can assure you that no such man exists.

If markets are allowed to operate freely, then, in the aggregate, the answer will be discovered. This is the "wisdom of crowds" principle. How do "we" know how many cell phones to produce? "We" don't. But independent actors in the market do. This is how markets work.

The only way to sort out the "best" alternative energy is to open it up to for-profit competition. As certain energy sources are deemed unprofitable, resources will be allocated elsewhere. Eventually, only those sources that are affordable and/or offer some other specific benefit, arousing enough aggregate demand to justify their production, will win out. The government CANNOT perform this function, no matter how noble its aims.

"Without information provided by market prices it is impossible to rationally allocate resources. Those who agree with this criticism claim it is a refutation of socialism and that it shows that a socialist planned economy could never work." Ludwig von Mises proved this in the 1920s. His theoretical findings were confirmed by the collapse of socialism around the world in the late 1980s. Bringing it back in the United States is NOT a good idea, and will unquestionably cause more problems then it solves.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by thinkingduck 9 years ago
thinkingduck
I know irony is overrated, but someone with a hand icon is debating to some degree against "the invisible hand."

Dairygirl concludes the debate by saying government intervention should work in theory, but this plays well to Clsmooth's advantage, since the end of the Cold War has made it easy to deride the failure of centrally planned economies. So the debate ends talking about the feasibility of theory, but missing is the normative component. From a an ethical point of view, is an egalitarian-minded redistribution worth trying even given its negative effects on the economy as a whole? I would say no.
Posted by clsmooth 9 years ago
clsmooth
I can't believe your record is so poor. Even though I think your argument was weak, you are a much more able debater than most on this site. Kudos to you, dairygirl4u2c.
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