November 19, 2010

Is the average voter helpless over energy policy?

No. If voters were to usher in a government that made dramatic changes to our energy polices, I don't believe that the corporations that were affected would try to overthrow the government. And, if such a government campaigned on the basis of dramatic change, and therefore had a mandate to implement them, I don't think that lobbyists behind the scenes would succeed in preventing them.

On the other hand, I think it's clear that corporations try to manipulate voters in order to get their short-sighted way. And, it seems pretty clear that most voters aren't very good at resisting the disinformation and appeals to emotion that corporations use to achieve their goals:

"...The Tea Party movement, which is threatening to cause an upset in next month's midterm elections, would not be where it is today without the backing of that most traditional of US political supporters – Big Oil.

The billionaire brothers who own Koch Industries, a private company with 70,000 employees and annual revenues of $100bn (£62bn), used to joke that they controlled the biggest company nobody had ever heard of.

Not any more. After decades during which their fortune grew exponentially and they channelled millions of dollars to rightwing causes, Charles and David Koch are finally getting noticed for their part in the extraordinary growth of the Tea Party movement.

The two, 74-year-old Charles and David, 70, have invested widely in the outcome of the 2 November elections."


Paul Nash said...


You are correct in that the average voter is not quite helpless, but perhaps more accurately, they are not really offered any clear options.
The two US parties do not have any real plan for getting off imported oil, and no one has been able to make any headway in that department for decades.
There is more to energy than oil, of course, but oil is the biggest issue.

It seems that neither party is willing to try anything bold, likely because the other will be able to fear monger whatever the plan is, and get elected instead, which mean the plan never gets implemented.
China, of course, does not have this problem, and so is able to make and implement plans.
Here, I think we will continue to see the Government of the Day take the path of least resistance, while trying to do some stuff on the side.
I suspect it will lead to events controlling the government's policy, rather than the other way around.
in either case, the voter doesn't get much of an option.
I think there is more chance for State or local governments to do more, certainly for voters to get more involved, but these governments, of course, have less control over energy matters.
Presumably, individual states have the ability to tax their energy, including oil, do counties?
This is the one energy policy the Feds refuse to use, but some states might.

Nick G said...


I think there is a small but clear difference between the parties.

The difference is small because two-party systems force consensus: both parties have to move to the center in order to maximize their vote.

The difference is clear because Democratic administrations have pushed towards EVs, higher CAFE standards, wind and solar power, and Republican administrations (and congressional majorities) have blocked them. Carter created the DOE, Reagan dismantled energy programs. Clinton created the PNGV, Bush dismantled it and pushed the hydrogen red herring. Obama raised CAFE, pushed the Volt, and added alt-energy to the stimulus.

Informed voters have a clear choice.

I try not to blame the Republicans - they just happen to be the instrument of the corporate interests pushing the pro-oil and pro-FF agenda.'s annoying, because it does so much harm, both to the US and the whole world.