[star]The American Mind[star]

February 08, 2006

Mark Green on Doyle Scandals and Ethanol

My flight to Washington, D.C. had two passengers many of my readers will be familiar with. Scott Jensen, who's trying to stay out of jail, was on my flight as well as Rep. Mark Green who is running for governor. I didn't get a chance to speak with Jensen, but I did get to ask Rep. Green a couple questions while walking through the airport.

On the Rich Judge remaining on Gov. Jim Doyle's campaign staff while admitting to have broken the law by campaigning as a staff member in the legislature Green said, "It's obviously a judgment Gov. Doyle has to make. We all have to be accountable for our actions." He continued, "We have a stain on state government right now." Green wants to talk about issues. Instead, he's having to listen to people's concern about corruption in state government. "Everywhere I go people express their anxiety" about Doyle's scandals.

I then wanted him to clarify if he supported mandating ethanol in gasoline. Green said, "I wouldn't support any ethanol requirement if it adds to the regulatory burden on business." The reason he's sympathetic to ethanol is he thinks petroleum has a monopoly. "98% of all the gasoline in America is totally petroleum-based. There is no choice right now.... I want to see people have real choices." His idea of what monopoly is is far from conventional thinking. When econonmists think of monopolies they mean a sole producer of a good or service. In the early 20th Century many feared John Rockefeller building a monopoly through his Standard Oil. Today, there are multiple companies selling gas. There may be collusion but there's no monopoly. Also, no one is stopping gas stations from selling ethanol-blended gas. With the bad experiences Southeast Wisconsin has had with reformulated gas the only way consumers in the rest of the state will buy the inferior fuel is to be forced by the government. Rep. Green is wrong. There is choice, and the choice being made is not to buy ethanol.

Another odd element to Green's answer was he doesn't want to add further "regulatory burden on business." Any kind of government mandate would do so. So conceivably any ethanol bill that came before him as governor would be vetoed. This sounds like Green's way of supporting the ethanol industry while trying to improve Wisconsin's business climate.

I'll make the recording of my brief interview with Rep. Green available as the next episode of my podcast Speak later tonight. For now, it's time to do a little sightseeing.

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Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 12:37 PM | Comments (7)