The Power of Independent Thinking

Stay Connected
Get the latest updates straight to your inbox.


Lawmakers Should Stop Looking to the Energy Sector for More Federal Revenue

After a remarkable rise in America’s energy production and the creation of more than one million jobs, oil and natural gas companies are wrestling with a new challenge: holding on to those gains.

Production has shot up 60 percent in the past decade, providing a greater single boost to the U.S. economy than any other business sector. Thanks to hydraulic fracturing—fracking—and sophisticated information technology, energy production has increased so much that the United States is, remarkably, the world’s leading oil and natural gas producer.

William F. Shughart II is Research Director and Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute, J. Fish Smith Professor in Public Choice in the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University, Editor-in-Chief of Public Choice, editor of the Independent Institute book, Taxing Choice: The Predatory Politics of Fiscal Discrimination, and co-author of the Independent Briefing, Plastic Pollution: Bans vs. Recycling Solutions.

From William F. Shughart II
TAXING CHOICE: The Predatory Politics of Fiscal Discrimination
So-called “sin taxes”—the taxing of certain products, like alcohol and tobacco, that are deemed to be “politically incorrect”—have long been a favorite way for politicians to fund programs benefiting special interest groups. But this concept has been applied to such “sinful” products as soft drinks, margarine, telephone calls, airline tickets, and even fishing gear. What is the true record of this selective, often punitive, approach to taxation?