As the company paper in the company town with the company line, the Washington Post is a reliable indicator of what the ruling class is thinking.
In an Aug. 16 editorial, “Cheap Gas or Fight Climate Change,” the Post, to the surprise of no one, comes down on the side of the planet. The Post is taken aback by Biden National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan’s recent plea to OPEC+ countries to combat rising gas prices in the U.S. by pumping more oil. Citing the Biden administration’s curtailment of oil and natural gas drilling on federal land and its cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline, the Post writes, “It seems strange indeed to encourage drilling in Saudi Arabia and Russia – they call the shots at OPEC+ — while discouraging it in North America.”
“Effect a Structural Shift in U.S. Energy Demand”
Not to worry, the Post has a better idea. No, it’s not for domestic producers to pump more oil, drive prices down, and help American workers and consumers. Instead, it wants to see a carbon tax or its first cousin, higher excise taxes on motor fuels. The goal, it says, is to “effect a structural shift in U.S. energy demand so that this country is less dependent on all suppliers of fossil fuels, both foreign and domestic. Taxes are an inescapable element of that.” Even a “relatively modest increase in the federal gas tax,” say, 25 cents per gallon could make a big difference, the paper assures us.
While acknowledging that the quarter per gallon tax hike may seem like a lot, the Post tells us the “revenue would belong to the public – in that sense, motorist would be paying themselves, not the Saudis or the Russians.” That’s right. By forking over more tax money, you’re really lining your own pocket – and not funding the political class in Washington that will determine how the money will be spent.
It gets better. “The United States stands for a planet that is both cooler and freer from the influence of despots,” the Post proclaims. “A tax on fossil fuels would further both aims.” Not a word about the despots in Washington, Silicon Valley, Wall Street, and Beijing who would be the chief beneficiaries of the “shift in energy demand” the Post wants to see.
The editorial doesn’t mention that the shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy (primarily wind and solar power) benefits China which has a near monopoly on the metals commonly found in wind turbines and solar panels. And its concern about despots apparently does not extend to the authoritarian government of China, which suppresses its own people and, oh yes, allowed COVID-19 to spread all over the world while lying about its origin.
Readers are told nothing about how an already shaky grid will become even more unstable as it becomes increasingly reliant on intermittent wind and solar power. Nor is there a word about how a boost in the gas tax, a new carbon tax, or new excise taxes on motor fuels are inherently regressive, doing the greatest harm to those least able to pay a higher price.
The Washington Post is owned by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and said to be the richest man in the world. Bezos is a shrewd businessman who knows full well that the newspaper he purchased is never going to turn a profit worth his while. To him, this was never about business in the traditional sense. But he now owns a newspaper that is a mouthpiece for the ruling glass, one that fits well with his Amazon HQ2 going up across the Potomac in Arlington, Virginia.
His powerful presence in Washington helps protect him from politicians who might be concerned about Amazon’s near-monopoly business practices. With such a sugar daddy, the Post doesn’t have to worry about staying afloat. It can run frivolous editorials and commentaries and slant news stories to its heart’s content, all the while barely hiding its contempt for ordinary people with whom it has nothing in common.