"Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. The best way to break this addiction is through technology…Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025." – 2006 State of the Union Address
Generations of the future, bear this in mind when you write the histories of these current times: President Bush is great at playing this game of three card monte – first he shows you the Free Market card, and when you aren't paying attention he replaces it with the Crony Capitalism card.
How are we going to fight our addiction to oil? The New York Times reports that our first step will be to give away royalties on $65 billion dollars worth of gas in the next five years. The article traces the exploitation by the Department of the Interior of a plan Clinton put into effect a decade ago to encourage high-risk oil exploration when oil prices were too low to justify the cost. Who knew that overhauling our energy polices overlapped so well with giving pork-lined handouts to campaign contributors?
There are any number of problems with this oil addiction talk and royalties incentive policy, both in the abstract and on the ground. An oil addiction is a problem, but it's only a problem if you use words like "global warming" or even "conservation." It's not a problem because of "unstable parts of the world." Considering that the top two exporters of oil to the US are Mexico and Canada and that the price of oil is set globally (so Saudi Arabia will just sell it's oil to India and China, being no worse off from our boycott), I don't see the global jihad getting worried about SUV hybrids. Also, if the plan "let's fight an oil addiction by drilling for more oil" strikes you as the same thought process of "I'm going to fight my obesity problem by buying bigger pants", there's a good reason for that.
And of course this handout means that the Bush team feels that record global demand and record high prices for a product requires government intervention to provide incentives for supply – that the market doesn't do that itself and the Bush team needs to offer some carrots. And that's just to start. Of course this all assumes that the Bush team is actually trying to build a stable, rational policy agenda here, instead of just raiding whatever offices they can with patronage jobs and looting the coffers for handouts to their former (and presumably future) employers. But that's not what's up, right?