When oil prices are relatively low, some argue that finding or developing more oil isn’t worth the cost. Of course, that ignores the long lead times for such development, which means capacity might come online in very different circumstances. Some even claim to want to restrict such investment based on that argument, when, if they were right, people would find such efforts unprofitable, and no government restriction would be necessary.
When oil prices are relatively high, many argue that it still does not justify more development of reserves or production capacity, because it would take so long that it would have no effect on current oil industry problems. And earlier development and pumping might leave less oil in the ground for the future when it might be even more expensive. Some then want to go further and restrict search and development based on that argument, but they ignore oil firms’ incentives to take into account the projected future price of oil compared to the present, which would make government restrictions unnecessary.
The conclusion? “We don’t want you to seek or develop oil reserves because we don’t need it” (the price is low) alternates with “we don’t want you to seek or develop oil reserves when we need it (the price is high) because it will take too long to make a difference.” Opposition based on entirely different reasons can be portrayed as principled instead.
You could apply those same arguments to oil pipelines as well. “We don’t need it now” and “its effects will be too slow” can indefinitely tag-team such efforts to construct the lowest cost way to move those resources.
Despite pervasive myths about the WTO’s ineffectiveness at disciplining state capitalism, China has a decent (albeit imperfect) record of complying (by removing offending measures) with adverse rulings from the WTO. To be sure, there are gaps in the WTO’s rules, particularly with respect to subsidies, but a WTO dispute is a worthwhile endeavor. (To be truly effective, such a move would require the United States to lift its longstanding hold on WTO Appellate Body nominees, which has essentially crippled the dispute settlement system).
Tyler Cowen points us to a new paper a general point of which is that “the usual arguments for protectionism, namely securing national supply chains, often actually stand as arguments for more trade, namely trade with a more diverse set of nations.”
If unions were looking to persuade or attract new members, they would have little reason to oppose right-to-work laws, which simply make union membership voluntary. Yet they oppose them.