Open Letter to (European) Greens in Behalf of Ron Paul

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The impact of US presidential elections goes well beyond American borders. The United States is not just the most powerful and wealthiest nation in the world; its political positioning on the most controversial issues strongly influences, if not drives, the rest of the world. In a time when the price of oil is as high as nearly US$ 100 per barrel and climate change is possibly regarded as the greatest challenge the international community is facing, people around the world should look closer at how the presidential candidates address energy and environmental issues. Such an approach would reveal that the world — leave aside the US — has a substantial interest in having Dr. Ron Paul as the next US President, for at least four good reasons.

First, on energy policy in general Ron Paul is possibly the only presidential candidate who does not slavishly follow the energy independence mantra. Energy independence is not just possible to achieve without dramatically impacting the Americans’ life, liberty, and property — as it would mean that cheaper sources of energy are not taken into consideration, and that people and industries are prevented from freely making contracts with foreign firms or individuals. The mere fact that America claims it will reduce its energy imports — assuming this is taken seriously abroad — will create among market participants the expectation that the US demand will decrease for political reasons. Now, since most oil & gas resources are owned or anyhow controlled by producing States, the feeling that America — the world’s largest consumer — will reduce consumption would probably lead to a renaissance of OPEC as a well-functioning cartel — which it has not been in the last 20 years. So, a serious effort to cut US hydrocarbon consumption would not only leave Americans worse off, but most probably might paradoxically push up oil prices and cause serious economic problems abroad.

Second, Dr. Paul has consistently opposed ethanol and other biofuel subsidies. The evidence is growing that not only are biofuels far more costly than conventional sources of power, but they are also energy-inefficient (that is, the amount of energy spent in the production of biofuels is higher than the amount of energy they release) and thus environment-unfriendly. Biofuel policy is just the latest name for agricultural subsidies, and as such it has serious consequences. Most notably, the surge in biofuel demand has caused a substantive growth in food prices, which is particularly impacting on the developing countries. Agriculture is addicted to subsidies, but this provides no justification for making it even harder for poor economies to grow. And, again, since America is the world’s leading country both in terms of subsidizing agriculture and biofuels, a reversal in US policies would probably change the world’s negative attitude in this respect, not to mention the revitalizing effect it might have on WTO negotiations to remove trade barriers in agriculture.

Third, an alleged reason to subsidize biofuels is that, according to some estimates that are increasingly becoming discredited, they would contribute to the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. While this may be true under particular circumstances which do not hold as regards to US-grown biofuels, Dr. Paul’s platform on climate change is far more convincing than that of his Republican and Democrat opponents. Ron Paul calls for a fair assessment of science in the first place, while others apparently believe what they listen to at CNN is "the" voice of science. Congressman Ron Paul would not give up property rights and individual freedom in exchange for supposedly good weather one hundred years from now. This is most important in the international arena: the free market is particularly under siege in Europe. Under the flag of fighting global warming, a Soviet-style system of energy rationing has been set in motion. The EU is pressing other countries to follow its example, and other presidential candidates in the US might consider the option, which after all gives the government a tremendous power over the future of society and the economy as a whole, because energy is a fundamental input to all economic activity. This European system is unsustainable in the long run, but it can’t endure in the short run either unless other major economies embrace it. Dr. Paul’s election would be a sign of hope also to those Europeans who realize that the world might be in danger, but green socialism can hardly be a solution.

Last but not least, Ron Paul’s foreign policy proposals can significantly contribute to solving the current energy crisis as well as global warming. On the one hand, military campaigns in the Middle East are part of the reason why oil-producing countries resist economic integration. A more peaceful setting in the region might strengthen the case for free trade and easier access to resources for foreign companies, including US-based oil companies. This, in turn, would dramatically improve the rate of recovery for oil & gas and would increase the efforts in exploration and production, leading to a fall in the price of oil. On the other hand, more economic integration would also mean a faster technological change in developing countries, that are far less energy-efficient — hence more carbon-intensive — than the developed world, including the US.

To sum up, there are several important environmental reasons why the rest of the world has an interest in Dr. Paul’s victory. In fact, his policy proposals, if enacted, would make not just the US a more prosperous country, but also the world as a whole a better, cleaner, and safer place.

Carlo Stagnaro [send him mail] is Energy & Environment Director of Istituto Bruno Leoni, Italy’s free market think tank.

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