Gas, Interests, and Term Limits

This is a great article about fuel prices by a great economist, Alan Reynolds:

Mixing Gasoline and Moonshine

One of the points that I thought was really super was this: the amount of oil it takes to produce ethanol is nearly the same as the amount of ethanol produced. Add to that the increased costs of transporting ethanol and mixing it and producing cars for it to work on make it far less efficient than just using the oil. This is another example of governmental interference - which Alan is careful to point out.

I was reminded of another interesting point today: everyone works in their own best interest. This is axiomatic and cannot be avoided. Politicians work for their own interests. Essentially that means, that they will use their power to help whatever cause will bring them the most votes.

I'm thinking more these days about how to limit the damage a politician is likely to do by his need to focus on getting elected. I keep coming back to term limits.

The new guy on the job is typically the hardest worker and the most idealistic. A new politician is still acutely aware of the reasons he or she wanted to become a part of government and is likely to vote in accordance with their principles early on. As they "age" in their role as a government official they forget why they are really there and start focusing on how to stay there. It's a cush job with access to outrageous perks - like travel on government provided Gulfstreams - not to mention the parties thrown by lobbyists. Also, the term limited politician has to return to the world he helped create. If he runs a business, he'll have to go home and run that business under all the laws he passed. Indirectly, this forces him to act in his own best interests.

Ultimately, I believe the world works best when people are free to live according to their own best interest within the limits of the law. Government, beyond all others, is the human agency that advances its interests at the expense of those it serves. Businesses are only able to advance their own interests by meeting the needs of those they serve - primarily because those they serve must choose to buy from them. A business can be fired by its customers at any time. Government can't. We're stuck with it even when it does a terrible job at outrageous expense.

That's why I oppose government involvement in almost every area (we do need a government and it has several very important functions, but I'll get into those in another post) and am increasingly warming to the idea of term limits - they may be one method of more properly aligning our interests with that of the politician.

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