Open Letter to Pat Campbell : CNG Subsidies

Pat,

On your morning show today, you invited on a guest from the American’s for Prosperity to discuss the issue of government tax subsidies for people who purchase CNG (compressed natural gas) driven cars. The guest was opposed to idea, sighting that it was a matter of principle, and that government’s role is not to pick “winners and losers”, but to allow market forces to decide what industries should rise or fall.

You however, took a different stance. Saying, “It may be bad in principle, but it will be good for Oklahoma.” To this, I have to reply with great disappointment and no small amount of ire. Government subsidies are dangerous. For many industries, it enslaves them to the government permanently. What starts out as a good idea is really just another way for the government to assert control and strip away freedoms.

One example would be the agricultural subsidies of 1922. Originally meant to temporarily prop up the American farmer and to keep the nation from loosing much of its food producers to poverty and ruin, it has never stopped propping them up. In fact, according to a report from Barrie McKenna in 2010, $62 of every $100 the U.S. farmer makes comes in the form of a subsidy. In 2009 alone, farmers received $180.8 billion from the American taxpayer.

Sure, government subsidies for CNG may help Oklahoma in the short-term, but in the long term it will marry us in another un-holy union with the feds. As your guest pointed out, it is already in the proposal that the EPA will be getting an even tighter strangling hold.

I believe your stations motto is “standing up for what’s right.” In this case, you have failed. When the government gives with one hand it will usually be taking with the other.

At the end of the segment, you asked the guest, what incentive does business owners have to do CNG pumps without a government subsidy. He was less than prepared for this question, but I think the answer is quite clear.

The entrepreneurial spirit will always find a way to make a commodity available to those who want it. The first gas stations were a reaction to the mass production of Ford cars, which lowered the price and allowed more people to own them, and originally started out at drug stores. Ford got the money to start the assembly line from working hard, and saving his money. The incentive for a businessperson to install CNG pump stations is simple, there is a market, it will be growing, and the first one to install stations, will be the next Ford of the gas station business.

Why would you advocate a policy that will tie Oklahoma and Oklahomans to a government that is already out of control and power mad, when this kind of question has been solved before without the enslaving of a people to the whims of politicians?

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One Response to “Open Letter to Pat Campbell : CNG Subsidies”
  1. As a follow up, Mr. Campbell did reply to my letter. I will not post the letter in its entirety as I am not sure if that is what he intended and I do not want to impinge upon any expectation of privacy.

    Suffice to say that Mr. Campbell says he agrees with my ascertains, and argues that he was merely playing Devil’s Advocate when he said …What about those, of which I am one, who feel that this while bad in principle will be good for Oklahoma and want to benefit from it?… Mr. Campbell says he has had a previous history of being against government subsidies and thus should not be taken seriously in the comments approving of the CNG funding.

    I, respectfully, disagree. When someone says “of which I am one” they are lumping themselves into the stated category. Just because you were once against something, does not mean you cannot change your mind. Like the senators who vote for something and then vote against it when the political wind changes. Mr. Campbell says he agrees with his guest on the show in that government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers.

    If he truly believes this, then the slip of the tongue is forgivable, if not all too human. In order to show he has maintained his anti-subsidy stance, it would be appropriate to invite Stuart back to the show. Allow him to give a more lucid argument against the practice, without brow beating him as a Devil’s Advocate. At that time, it will be completely on the guest to be able to articulate the values of eliminating or at least rejecting the further growth of governmental subsidies.

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