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I drive a Honda

Here’s some wisdom from the floor of the Senate.  To find it in the Congressional Record, go here.  (When you get there, click on “Day of Session" right below the search field.  Then choose “Senate Pages” for November 16.  When you get the field that says: “Go To Page” type in S12928.)

What follows is an excerpt from a floor speech by Senator Dorgan who has proposed a windfall profits tax.  I think he meant John Maynard Keynes in the opening sentence part of the quote but it’s easy to confuse three-named economists with the first name John.  It’s even easier to make fun of pointy-headed academics:

John Kenneth  Galbraith used to say, in the long run,  we are all dead. But we go into this  winter, as consumers in this country,  confronting a fuel bill that has dramatically increased over last year, and  then reading in the newspaper in the  morning, wearing a sweater in a home  that you have to keep a couple of degrees cooler in order to afford to heat  your home, that ExxonMobil has a 75-  percent or 89-percent profit or all the  majors are showing massive profit increases. So while they sit there fat and  happy, racking up the profits, everybody else is trying to figure out how  they pay the price. How do you scrape  up the money to heat the home, to fill  the car, to fill the tanks so that your  tractor and farm equipment is ready in  the spring?  People say: Well, if that is a problem  for you, that is tough luck. There are a  couple of economists writing in recent  days—I won’t name them—who can tell  us everything about the future but  can’t remember their home phone number. You know the type. They are telling us what will happen here is if people can’t afford to pay the cost of energy, it will force them to conserve  more. Easy to say for one of these  economists who drive around town in  their Volvo or Mercedes cogitating  about the future. What about the people who have to use a car to drive to  work, have to fill the tank with gas but  don’t have the money to do so, or the  people who understand they live in the  northern part of this country where we  have tough winters and they have to  pay the heating bill and it costs a lot  of money and they don’t have it? What  about that?

I sure wish he’d name them.  I  hope he’s talking about the two economists who write here at Cafe Hayek.  But neither of us argue that high prices are good because they force people to conserve.  He’s confusing us with some environmental groups. We like high prices because they give the oil companies an incentive to keep looking for more energy.  That way the people we’re all worried about will have more oil and gas in the future. 

By the way, neither of us drives a Volvo or a Mercedes.  Must be two other economists who can’t remember their home phone number.