Which of these former elected officials doesn’t love ethanol mandates? Al Gore, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum

Michael Giberson

Which of these former elected officials doesn’t love ethanol mandates? Is it former vice president Al Gore, Democrat from Tennessee; former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Republican from Georgia; or former Senator Rick Santorum, Republican from Pennsylvania?

The answer is…

…the one that isn’t thinking about running for president in 2012.

That’s right, Al “Is it hot in here?” Gore is the answer we are looking for.

Mr. Global Warming has sworn off the stuff (as we noted last year), while Newt “Contract With America” Gingrich and Rick “Santorum” Santorum dithered on about ethanol the wonder fuel before the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association last week.

Gingrich wowed the crowd in Des Moines, so much so that the agri-news site DomesticFuels.com was moved to write, “If it were up to the Iowa renewable fuels industry, Newt Gingrich would probably be elected the next president of the United States.” (Listen to Gingrich’s Iowa speech. mp3).  Among other things, Gingrich told his audience, “There is zero reason for the auto manufacturers not to produce flex fuel cars, and there is zero reason to tolerate their resistance. <applause> And I think that that ought to be the minimum demand for national security reasons, but also for consumer choice.”

What? We need the government to force automakers to give consumers a non-choice choice? As public policy, zero tolerance for private automobile company decision-making doesn’t square well with what Gingrich says about limited government on Newt.org: “Markets are ultimately fair because they empower individual consumers to make their own choices. Bureaucracies are fundamentally unfair because they empower a few insiders who inevitably drift toward cronyism and corruption. The only solution for big-government corruption is smaller government.”

The Wall Street Journal tagged Gingrich as “Professor Cornpone” in a editorial comment on the speech.

Santorum also told the Iowa ethanol industry what they wanted to hear: “My pledge to you is to work with this industry to create a bigger and bigger place in the market for domestically produced ethanol and biodiesel.” (Listen to Santorum’s Iowa speech. mp3) And then just two days after Santorum promised bigger and bigger governmental support for ethanol in Iowa, he has an op-ed in the (Manchester, New Hampshire) Union-Leader blasting Obama’s reliance on “failed statist economic theory” in the State of the Union address:  “Rather than letting the American entrepreneurial spirit ignite the free-market economic engine, Obama is again choosing to depend on government … The reality is that prosperity has been found only through success and, yes, failure in the free-market.”

Success or failure in a free market? I don’t think Santorum mentioned that point to the ethanol producers in Des Moines.

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Which of these former elected officials doesn’t love ethanol mandates? Al Gore, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum

  1. Republican wannabes are eliminating themselves from my consideration at a high rate of speed. Al Gore’s late conversion on this one issue will not help him with me. he is still part of the problem.

  2. Would you call this evidence that public choice considerations weaken the Second Welfare Theorem? That is, state redistribution may not achieve a desired Pareto optimal equilibrium, not because the Second Welfare Theorem is wrong, but because the nature of politics prevents politicians from pursuing what they know to be good policy.

  3. Mike, I’m not sure that understanding is enhanced by filtering the ideas though the concepts of formal welfare economics. Filtering out the welfare economics from the question, you ask whether policies are bad because politics prevents politicians from pursuing what they know to be good policy.

    I’m suspicious of the concept “what [politicians] know to be good policy.” Not to be snide, really, but just that political competition and the information feedbacks produced in legislatures and bureaucracies don’t readily create knowledge about good/bad policy. Instead, the knowledge that gets created is about useful/not-useful programs and the associated useful/not-useful rhetoric. It may be the case that “useful programs” bears some relationship to “good policy”, but the relationship is not one of necessity.

    So rather than an image of a politician choosing among ideal and less than ideal policies, and constrained by politics to select less than an optimum, consider an image of a politician choosing among policies and recognizing tradeoffs from various alternatives (a little more support from one group at the expense of support from other groups) and then pursuing the best course of action given the politicians goals.

Comments are closed.