Nix the Dakota Access Pipeline Project and Nix Ethanol

Trump’s positions (see here) on the two linked issues of energy and the environment are anti-libertarian, anti-populist, anti-economic, and anti-making America great. His positions use the coercive powers of government, including eminent domain and criminally-distorted judicial oversight of private property rights, to deliver massive privileges and non-market-generated cash flows to specific interest groups within the energy and farming industries.

The energy and farming industries have many special interests who exploit government power to their own narrow benefit. To be consistent with his position of making America great, Trump should insist that every business segment in the land stand on its own bottom and not be supported by extracting funds from others. Trump needs to recognize such privileges as being barriers to American greatness. He needs to recognize that the supposed job-creating benefits of such privileged and subsidized projects is illusory, really diverting labor and capital away from projects that pay for themselves and into projects that continually drain funds from truly desirable work that pays for itself.

No society can long prosper and survive with coercive privileges criss-crossing the land and corrupting every economic calculation. Energy producers and farmers should be made to bear the full costs of their projects. They should not be subsidized by those whose lands are disrupted or placed at risk of destruction and damage. They should not be subsidized by those forced to buy gasohol or gasoline corrupted with 10% ethanol made from corn.

Policy changes of this scope cannot be done solely by the Executive and Legislature. It cannot be done without a shift in the judicial understanding and enforcement of private property rights. But the other two branches of government can heavily influence the nature of judicial rulings, and ultimately the people can influence their representatives.

The power of the presidency to influence and educate public thinking is great. A confused president spelling out confused policies based on confused basic positions will contribute to the kinds of mass confusion we are now experiencing. For decades, we’ve experienced this failure to articulate clear, sensible, economic and morally-justifiable policies. And because government power has grown over time, with more and more intrusions into more and more industries and walks of personal life, the confusion and accompanying damage have grown too.

Trump’s campaign to reverse this process lies in direct opposition to Clinton’s campaign to extend and deepen that process. But his campaign is in critical respects incomplete, inconsistent, contradictory, wrong-headed, lacking in understanding and misguided. In his own ways, Trump’s ideas can easily do as much damage as those that Clinton wanted to implement while not making America great.


8:12 am on November 10, 2016