Mr. Morriss Gets Acquainted With Irish Confetti

Read time: 5 mins

Originally posted at

Merriam-Webster: Irish Confetti - “A rock or brick used as a missile.”

We recently wrote about professional clean energy critic Andrew Morriss being schooled by Center for American Progress’s Kate Gordon before a friendly crowd at the fossil industry-funded CATO Institute. Back in April, Mr. Morriss couldn’t answer Ms. Gordon’s inconvenient points about the huge government welfare checks received by the dirty energy industries that fund him while he rails against pro-clean energy policies.

Morriss, you see, is a front man for the front group, the Koch-funded Mercatus Center at George Mason University; the Koch-funded Property & Environment Research Center (PERC); and the ExxonMobil and Koch-funded Institute for Energy Research. I’m guessing that he, like others in the cottage industry of anti-clean industry front groups, has been trying to raise more dirty energy money by showing he can put an equals sign between the Solyndra bankruptcy and broad pro-clean energy policies.

In fact, that’s the only explanation I can come up with for why Mr. Morriss would volunteer for another embarrassment. The latest one took place on the Dylan Ratigan Show. Morriss once again blundered right into the core question for which people of his kind have no answer: Why small government advocates ignore $52 billion or more in taxpayer welfare to dirty energy interests – but have the time to waste blathering about how pro-clean energy policies aren’t a good use of our money.

Mr. Ratigan was having none of it, starting off the interview with a round of Irish Confetti:  ”…we do not have a free market for energy, because the actual cost of fossil fuel in our economy is not reflected at the pump; the military’s not in there, the environment’s not in there, and there’s a wide variety of differing fuel subsidies and tax treatments for all sorts of different fuel sources depending on their relation with our government. So, how can a marketplace decide the fuel source, when one fuel, particularly being gasoline and fossil fuels, have such a substantial comparative subsidy?”

Morriss, stumbling: “Right, right, well, you know, that’s a good point, but the answer to one bad subsidy is not to have two bad subsidies…”

Ratigan (cutting off Morriss): “But I didn’t say that, I didn’t bring you on to indict the president. I’m with you, the president that’s crazy, what they’re doing is crazy, let’s not waste our time on it. But let’s talk about the actual problem, which is that the marketplace cannot function if the actual cost of what is in it is rigged. And in this case, we are not paying the actual cost of the fossil fuels, and as a result, no one wants to see $8 a gallon for anything, when I can get $4 a gallon and pass the military costs and all the rest of it off. I guess my question to you is, what would the marketplace do if it was faced with paying the real cost of fossil fuel at the pump?”

Morriss, again stumbling:  “Well, people would use a lot less of it, and that’s what we want…and so if you price them accurately, people will conserve…so, we have a mechanism to get conservation, it’s worked for 100 years, we’ve been conserving energy in a variety of things…people conserve when prices go up, it’s a simple thing it’s not popular with politicians, but it’s a simple way to fix the problem.”

Morriss’s Palin-esque wanderings only invited more, this time from co-host Sam Seder: “Hey, Andrew, I’ve got a question for you. If it’s the case that we subsidize oil, and we’ve been doing carbon-based subsidies since we built the highways, since we promoted cars, since we subsidized these oil companies directly, $50 billion worth of nuclear subsidies, why write an entire book about the tiny subsidies? I mean, you can shrug off the notion of one subsidy isn’t as good as the other but we have the chance to incentivize and to build an industry that will have benefits across the spectrum of society. Why are you focused on that one?”

Morriss, once again stumbling: “Well, I’m currently writing a book attacking gasoline… “Why Gasoline Costs So Much”…You’re right that there is a great opportunity for innovation…and we know how to do innovation…what we don’t want to do is…turn to politicized decision making, and that’s what we’re seeing…”

The questions kept coming, hard, fast and painful – much as the Irish Confetti Mr. Ratigan’s (and my) fellow Irishmen threw in big-city riots during the 19thcentury. This treatment wasn’t only just desserts, it was a proof point to a wide array of clean energy advocates that they can and should start throwing some Irish Confetti themselves.

That’s because the Solyndra bankruptcy has drawn the predictable fly swarm of people on a mission to hurt one of the few parts of the economy that is actually growing and creating jobs across the country. Michele Malkin, former fossil fuel fundraiser Stephen Moore of the Wall Street Journal, Darrell Issa, Rush Limbaugh, and Inhofe acolyte Marc Morano. All of them are actively trying to and hurt solar company valuations, popularity and job-creating momentum.

From here on in, getting lucky with on-air hosts who won’t let nonsense pass for answers isn’t a sufficient strategy. Clean energy success will require us to demand the media press guys like Morriss to answer the hard, obvious questions about where the fat really is in government – welfare checks to mature, highly profitable fossil interests such as ExxonMobil, Chesapeake Energy and Peabody Energy.

Left to themselves, Morriss and crew will gladly hurt the industries of America’s future, and make no apologies for it in the process.

If that doesn’t deserve some Irish Confetti, I don’t know what does.

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If you price in military expenses and highways and all that and make the price of gas jump - guess what - the people will throw you out of office. 

If you even slightly adjust policy that directly increases the gasoline price, you’ll get dumped quickly.

That is what happened to the PC Joe Clark government a generation ago. They ran an election on a promise to increase tax on gasoline - guess what  - they lost big time.

Politicians prefer winning over losing.

That is what happened to the PC Joe Clark government a generation ago. They ran an election on a promise to increase tax on gasoline - guess what - they lost big time.

Politicians prefer winning over losing.”

I’m very surprised by that Rick. It’s got a mention here too come federal election time, but I don’t believe it’s the main motivation behind voters reason for dumping a political party. You guys in the USA just have insanely cheap fuel. I remember living in the UK about 6 years ago & my little 4 cyl car would cost me 40 Pound to fill. With exchange rates at the time, that equated to about $100 Au/ $80 USD at the time………for a 4 cyl car! My 4 cyl car in Australia would cost around $40 Au to fill. I was there for an election & I don’t remember fuel prices being top of the agenda.

Going by international comparisons, you guys in the USA have it damn good!

So, I’m surprised that people in the US believe they have it so tough or are so close to the edge. Because even a doubling of your fuel price would still make it far cheaper than many other places on the planet.

Sure, simple inflation will guarantee that the price will incrementally go up, but no one it seems can decipher the cryptic fuel industry & why prices fluctuate so much & especially on holidays & weekends. It seems to be a black art.

So, bring on the alternate fuel cars I say. Obviously the logistics side is screwed for the time being, but there is hope for car owners at least in the immediate future.

Yeah I like the idea of a run around town electric car. I might get one if and when they get into my price range. For mass conversion you have infrastructure issues but in 50 years I can imagine that most city cars would be electric.

“I might get one if and when they get into my price range.”

That’s the issue for most at present I suspect. Many would like to go down that road of full electric or even hybrid, but for the time being, there is either not enough fueling stations or options for full electric & the hybrids are out of the price range of most consumers. Economies of scale should dictate that like any other consumer item ( the first car, the first fridge, the TV, the first DVD player etc ) that arrives on the market, volume & competition will drive the price down. Few can afford them at first & then suddenly everyone has them. Then there is the psychological & economical barrier that car makers must overcome in regards to engineered obsolescence.

As shown with the EV1 of the early 90’s in “who killed the electric car?”, GM discovered that revenue from their service side & parts replacement would be severely reduced due to the fact that electric cars needed less servicing & less parts replaced. Conversely, fossil fuel powered (via fuel in the tank) need many parts replaced periodically. E.g. Oil filter, fuel filter, ai filter, spark lugs, gaskets etc.

“For mass conversion you have infrastructure issues”

Too true. Although we had the same issues when the first car arrived on the scene. At least there is hope for the car market. For trucks, shipping, air, there is not much relief on the horizon & fuel prices will only keep going up.

“but in 50 years I can imagine that most city cars would be electric.”

I think you’re right. Probably even for rural areas in countries with smaller land mass & dense population. E.g. The U.K, Japan, Indonesia, Western Europe etc.

For countries with vast land masses like Australia, USA, Canada, Russia etc. It will take a long time to penetrate rural areas completely.

Yes, these Koch Brothers

Bloomberg’s Bombshell Report on “The Koch Brothers Method” How to Steal Cheat and Lie Your Way to the Top” 

thefts of oil, illegal trading with Iran, illicit payments to win contracts, breaking safety and environmental regs. dumping toxins