Thursday, August 07, 2008

Gingrich the intellectual: "Gingrich Cites Big Oil And Right-Wing Intern To Claim That All Economists Support Drilling"

From Think Progress

"Today, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich promoted his “Drill Here, Drill Now,” dirty-energy-funded plan on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal and Fox and Friends. On both shows, he touted the work of an intern at the right-wing American Enterprise Institute, who Gingrich claimed “understands more more about economics than most of the politicians in this country.” His proof? The intern found a paper arguing that “the price of oil will drop almost immediately” if the U.S. expands domestic drilling.

The paper was rejected by the Energy Journal because the principle “is basically understood by every economist in the world,” Gingrich claimed. “Everybody who is a professional economist knows” that more drilling will make oil prices come down “immediately,” he declared. "

I'm reminded of the fact, made known years ago, that Newt the architect of the Republican reconquest of Congress in '94 was considered more sophisticated and more of an intellectual than his colleagues because he would quote concepts from Alvin Toffler's book "The Third Wave". I'm not suggesting that politicians or politically literate people need to read loads and loads of politics texts, but it says a lot about the ignorant good old boy and machine boss political culture of the GOP that someone coming in and citing a sort of new agey, very vague and popularly oriented, politics text that naively said that technology was going to liberate us from the needs of production, was thought to make the person doing it an intellectual set apart from the rest of the GOP. It's not so much some of the issues in the Third Wave that are the problem as much as it's just one of a genre of texts coming out in the '70s prophesizing that we were on the brink of entering this wonderful Aquarian age where we'd all be evolved and loving individuals, and that this transition would require no effort put forward on the part of the participants. In other words, Newt became an intellectual celebrity in the GOP through spouting off on a book that in content is just a few steps away from that produced by New Age Chanellers.

But back to Newt's proclamation about every economist agreeing with him. From the same Truthdig page:

"Gingrich’s claim to have “every professional economist” on his side was too much even for Fox News’s Gretchen Carlson, who replied, “I find it interesting that more economists are not on the record saying that.” In fact, it’s much easier to find economists who say on the record that Gingrich is lying:

– “Obviously, if you do offshore drilling now it’s not going to give any short term help on the supply of oil. … That’s far away.” — Paul A. Samuelson, a professor of economics at MIT and winner of the 1970 Nobel Prize in Economics.

– “I have a problem linking the drilling to current gas prices for political reasons. The reality is there is no correlation between today’s prices and what gasoline will be discovered in the outer shelf.” — Dr. A.F. Alhaji, an associate professor of economics at Ohio Northern University

– “It won’t make any difference whatsoever [on gas prices] because new oil that could be found and produced on the new Outer-Continental Shelf won’t take place for at least eight to 10 years.” — Texas A&M Economics Professor Dr. John Moroney

– “Drilling in the Gulf starting today is not going to give us any relief this year, next year or the year after.” — Tom Oberhofer, an economist at Eckerd College in Pinellas County

– “It’s absurd to argue that ending the moratorium on drilling off parts of the U.S. coasts would quickly bring down the high price of gasoline.” — John Berry, Bloomberg columnist

– “Would starting to drill now do anything for consumers in the near future? The answer to this one…is probably not, since it’ll take so long for new oil or gas to come to market.” — Ken Green, an energy analyst with the American Enterprise Institute.

– “Opening off-shore drilling would have no impact whatsoever on gas prices today.” — Mike Rodgers, a leading oil expert with PFC Energy in Washington"

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