Why this proposal at this time?
- It is something about which I have felt very strongly for a long time. And I am now well beyond the age of maturity. Time is getting short, for me and for the country.
- Its origins were in 1973, when I conceived of its precursor as the first modern energy crisis hit. I became very passionate about it, writing to every member of Congress and to many levels of the administration, testifying on it before the late great Senator William Proxmire and his joint economic committee and before four other Congressional committees. The policy had a considerable setback when President Jimmy Carter introduced it as his Wellhead Tax (as a result of some plagiarism of my published concepts). However, its implementation and consequences had not been well thought out or presented, and it died a quick death. (Senator Proxmire was concerned about the inflation aspects, and I had not thought out the necessary modifications then.) An early version, without some essential components, was adopted by Greenpeace Germany and promoted quite vigorously. Without the essential improvements the program was flawed and was not adopted.
- No one seems to have a workable policy covering these areas.
- In particular, the Democratic Party seems to have no policy of its own. I’m an independent, not a Democrat, but I’d like to see the policy adopted by the Democrats. Its fee-plus-rebate attributes would make it anathema to the Republicans, although a couple of Republican magazines published early versions of the policy.
- This policy happens also to do something relatively gentle to illegal aliens, and something more dramatic to help American poor people. The increasing imbalance between the extraordinarily rich and the poor cries out for action.
- Above all, the policy would give powerful incentives to everyone to do something about energy wastage and pollutant emissions, and it would quickly make the US the world leader in these areas. It would stimulate business and employment at every level.
In summer 2006 I decided that I needed to do something sensible about the policy, and retained a delightful political consultant, Dorie Clark, who was Howard Dean’s media person (and who recently headed the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition. My family and I are bicyclists.) She came to a recent meeting of supporters of the policy at MIT, and all strongly recommended that I send it to as many influential people as possible to elicit feedback. The first person to whom I sent it asked me to put it on a website so that he could let others know about it. The present website is an update on the version we produced then.
After a long life involving much service on commissions and testifying before them I have observed a certain reluctance among policy-makers and economists to give serious attention to policies recommended by scientists and engineers. Consequently I have nailed my colors to the mast by writing these recommendations from an engineer’s viewpoint, somewhat tongue-in-cheek.