The holiday break distracted me from finishing up an old discussion about energy, and now the problem is complicated by the discussion disappearing from the original post, thanks to a member deleting his account (John H.).
Gather saves such disappeared comments in each member's own comment page, so here is my comment under John's thread that started it:
And here's is the main comment I wanted to respond to:
First off, that was a great list of all the ways government is distorting the price of oil. It is undeniable that governments have helped cause oil to be such a major source of energy. It's not a problem created by the market.
That said, even without government intervention, oil would have probably played a significant role anyway. Two others involved in the discussion, Graham L., and Dan E., thought I didn't recognize this. I do. Oil is a very important source of energy, and will remain so for a long time, even if it doesn't remain our primary source of energy.
I have no particular allegiance or disdain for any type of energy. I'm fine with whatever turns out to be the best options under market conditions, which would be many different sources, no doubt.
All the energy and environmental issues are best answered by the market. The price system is the mechanism that ensures sustainable use of resources; the enforcement of property rights ensures that pollution does not destroy the environment; and allows innovation to thrive, which will help create more and better sources of energy, including solar, wind, etc.
I'll be making a more complete case for free market environmentalism in a future Striking at the Root article. I believe it's a solution that can satisfy both the sides of the (political) debate, while ending the motivation for "denialism" and "alarmism". The special interests just looking for government money, though, that's another story...
One more thing:
Given that definition you must admit that a "free market" has never existed, nor can it in the real world.
The market does exist in the real world. The only thing limiting it from being freer is in our minds. There is nothing impossible about it; any subsidy could be ended tomorrow, if there was support for such an idea.