If Brazil Can Do It, So Can Bill Clinton.--the Yes on 87 Non-Sequitur Campaign
Would you buy a used Proposition from this man? The latest Yes on 87 commercial playing incessantly on California television features none other than Slick Willie himself, trying to sell us the snake oil that Proposition 87 will reduce our State's reliance on foreign oil.
Funny thing, though, he doesn't say how. In fact, he doesn't even say what Prop. 87 will do. Indeed, none of the Yes on 87 advertisements say what Prop. 87 will do. That's probably because the sponsors realize it would strain the viewer's credulity to say outright that they believe an extraction tax on oil produced in California will lessen our reliance on foreign oil. Logic and rationality dictate the opposite--if California imposes a new tax only on oil produced in California, and then prohibits that tax from being passed onto retail consumers, gasoline refiners will buy more foreign oil to make gasoline for the California market, not less.
The Yes on 87 campaign may have taught us a lesson on how to judge a ballot proposition. If the proponents wouldn't tell you what it does, vote NO!
By that criterion, the Clinton ad, as one might have expected, is particularly egregious. "Imagine if we could stop being dependent on foreign oil," Bill begins. "Brazil did it. They made a simple change to their cars, to switch to ethanol, grown from their own crops, and it's 33% percent cheaper than gas. Now with Proposition 87, California can lead the way to our own energy independence. With Proposition 87, we can switch to cleaner fuels, wind and solar power, and free ourselves from foreign oil. If Brazil can do it, so can California."
And what does Proposition 87 have to do with switching cars over to ethanol? Will the tax proceeds sponsor the research necessary to create the technology to allow cars to run on ethanol? No, that can't be it. Obviously, the technology already exists, since it is being used in Brazil. Are ethanol-fueled cars currently against the law in California, and Prop. 87 will change that? No, of course not. Anyone who wants to do so can change his car over to run on ethanol tomorrow. About the only conclusion one might logically deduce is that by increasing the cost of gas to where California consumers can't affort to fill their tanks, they are more likely to switch over to alternatives like ethanol. Ethanol is probably 33% cheaper in Brazil only because it is taxed less or gasoline is taxed more.
In fact, that is probably the entire philosophy behind Prop. 87. Tax oil and natural gas enough, and we will all have to drive less and find energy alternatives. That certainly conforms to liberal political and economic philosophy.
The logical nexus between Prop. 87 and ethanol-fueled cars in Brazil is about as tenuous as a connection between Prop. 87 and those tiny swimsuits the girls wear on the Copa Cabana Beach in Brazil. No, I take that back--there is a stronger between Prop. 87 and the bikinis: If extraction taxes keep driving up the price of gasoline, most of us wouldn't be able to afford more clothing than those tiny pieces of cloth. Also, Bill Clinton has internationally recognized expertise on girls in swimsuits.