Taxes are explicit, so it is easy to sum them up. Total spending by government at all levels in the US is estimated at $6.41 trillion for 2010. [ 1 ] That’s about 44% of the gross domestic product. So that means that the private sector gets to choose how to spend the remaining 56% of the money, right? Not really. The government also requires us to comply with its rules, and the indirect costs are substantial. My partial list of indirect costs amounts to $1.8 trillion, more than 12% of the economy on top of the 46%.
Poe wrote, “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore.” I’ve done that too, in my case trying to figure out my electric bill. The cheapest electricity is from hydroelectric power, a couple of cents per kilowatt hour. Electricity from coal is perhaps four cents, from gas or nuclear around five to seven cents. But here in California, a small allotment of electricity is billed at around eleven cents, then rates rise rapidly to over forty cents. How are the astronomical rates achieved? It’s hard to figure, but when all the costs of green energy are included, a picture starts to emerge.
The reason why the Americans, Europeans, Japanese and others who buy oil want the price of oil to go down is that their economies would benefit if it dropped. The Saudis, Mexicans, Norwegians, and others who produce oil would like the price of oil to rise, because their economies would benefit if it did. Clearly, it is not so much about the price as it is whether you are buying or selling, and most importantly, how much.
The two leading candidates for becoming major alternative energy sources are wind and solar. Both are subject to outages. The sun goes down at night and the wind sometimes fails to blow. So what do we do during the interruptions?
The broad claim is that oil prices are high in significant part because the money is pocketed by oil company executives. It isn’t just Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats who make the claim. Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly has been as outspoken as anyone about the huge payouts. So how much are we paying at the pump that goes to these rich guys?
Portions of posts may be quoted provided attribution is given.