Everyone knows that environmentalists seek (among other things) to shackle energy producers with government taxes and regulations. Less well known is that some energy consumers also seek to shackle energy producers with the aim of keeping energy prices low by forbidding them to sell energy to foreign buyers.

The energy news site Fuel Fix reports that “Dow Chemical and other major users of natural gas,” operating through a lobbying organization called America’s Energy Advantage, “are imploring the Obama administration to stop approving licenses to broadly export the fossil fuel.”

These corporations are calling on the government to require energy producers to prove that their sales are in “the public interest” in order to receive permission to trade. The premises here are that the so-called public interest trumps the property and liberty rights of Americans and that regulators can properly determine pricing or trade agreements. Both of these notions are false, and their acceptance is un-American and foolishly shortsighted.

This effort by Dow Chemical and its allies is un-American because it calls for the violation of the rights of some American producers for the alleged sake of other American producers. And it is foolishly shortsighted because of what it means for Dow and company in the future.

If the principle of rights is not to be the governing principle in production and trade—if, instead, serving the so-called public interest is the standard for permission—what will become of Dow’s ability to trade when someone alleges that its business dealings are not in the “public interest”? Suppose DuPont goes to federal regulators and claims that the fact that “68 percent of Dow's revenues come from locations outside the United States” violates the “public interest” by keeping those products from Americans and by increasing the demand and therefore the prices?

Shame on Dow Chemical and its allies for advocating immoral and thus ultimately self-destructive policies.

American businessmen desperately need to realize that the only proper purpose of government is to protect rights, not to violate them, and that upholding this principle is in the best interest of all producers.


Image: Wikimedia Commons

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