What's Wrong With Energy Independence? David Henderson's Glad You Asked.

All my debate liveblogging cracks about the inanity of “energy independence” led some commenters to ask what’s really so bad about it. I never conjured up the will to answer, but if you’re still wondering, please read David Henderson:

One issue that has arisen in this campaign is the issue of “energy independence.” Both McCain and Obama believe that moving towards energy independence is a good idea. But, as I pointed out in this month’s The Freeman, it’s not. Energy independence is no more desirable than coffee independence, banana independence, or car independence. The case for free trade does not break down just because the good being exchanged is important, as oil is. It doesn’t generally make sense, if your goal is the wellbeing of country A’s citizens, for country A’s government to impose tariffs or import quotas on a product from other countries. Even if we put the moral arguments against coercion aside, and even if we nationalistically care only about Americans (I don’t care only about Americans), the gains to the domestic producers from reducing trade are less than the losses to domestic consumers. I won’t repeat that argument here because you can go to The Freeman to read it. 

Read both the Freeman piece and the rest of the post.

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center