Actually, it's difficult to get the true flavor and rhythm of the whole sorry mess without reading the entire transcript.
As Bush reiterates about, oh, fifteen thousand times throughout the speech, this is technology that requires very highly trained and specialized people. People with skills. People who read, and even understand the complexities of free international trade, without requiring the "see Dick run" set-up from Harvard there.
He doesn't need to explain the Globalization 101 bullet points to the people who are utilizing Danish capital to bugger compensatory loans from the taxpayers; he needs to explain it to the tens of thousands of auto and tech workers who are having their jobs outsourced to Mexico and India, what exactly it is they're supposed to do now. Can they all make ethanol, or is there enough demand (and subsidized loans) to go around?
There's a choice here to be made, and I'm sure most of us have little doubt as to the direction it will take. As Fredo himself alludes, albeit almost approvingly, the ethanol push will open up secondary markets, allowing agri-giants -- already on the dole in one way or another -- to maximize their grift with price gouging.
The main thing to keep in mind is that, ethanol or no, gas prices are never coming back down. Any substitutes will merely be positioned into the same price-point niche. The market has already been tested, and the envelope is constantly being pushed to find out just how much we'll pay.
And the soothing mouth noises regarding "clean coal" are nice and all, but considering there was a big push to build more old-tech coal plants that would be grandfathered in before the regulations were changed, you have to wonder what the actual demand will be, and who will be willing to step up and meet it. One thing's for sure, nobody is going to do it without some financial incentive -- from you 'n' me, naturally. These people don't do anything on their own dime, which is really the ultimate form of risk management.
So, there's the choice that will probably happen -- allow the giants already in place in the energy industry to diversify and partner with commodities producers, on the taxpayers' backs, in the guise of innovation and entrepreneurship. If what we're looking for is merely a lateral shift from being pwned by the oil lobby to the ethanol lobby, then fine. But the bottom line is that, even at current consumption patterns, corn ethanol simply does not have a sustainable EROEI, though Brazil apparently has had better luck with sugarcane ethanol.
The alternative would be to rethink the way things are currently laid out, modes of distribution and transportation. It would require seriously rethinking how cities should expand. If we understand that simply re-arranging our energy sources to accommodate our current (and increasing) level of gluttony is not sustainable long-term (or even medium-term), then we should realize that it is axiomatic that consumption modes and patterns have to be re-thought in conjunction with source diversification. The first place to start is with food distribution; instead of enormous, centralized production facilities distributing thousands of miles in all directions (and in the process, becoming sources of toxic pollution, speaking of hog farmers), you move to decentralized regional hubs. Of course that also decentralizes the political power of such entities.
And yeah, some of us might have to give up our ridiculous suburban assault vehicles, driven either by unskilled milfs or their overcompensating husbands. It's disturbing to even speculate on the root of such destructive gimme-gimme trends, but they're clearly there, and they cannot go on indefinitely. And there's no upside for the people who conserve on basic principle (that is, they are conservative when it comes to energy usage and waste in general) to continue subsidizing the sheer waste, and the attendant externalities, of these fuck-you-mobiles, destroying the topsoil in the low-EROEI process of converting corn into ethanol. But you want your "20-10 plan", there ya go; chances are results would exceed estimates. The trick is whether we're more concerned with giving the Lee Raymonds of the world a soft cushion to park their jowly asses on, and granting insecure jerkoffs carte blanche to project their anxieties on the rest of us, than in truly dealing with the actual problems at hand.
Even the geopolitical realities need to be thought out, and they don't even seem to have been considered. Say ethanol works (well enough for the time being, at least), and we make enough of a dent in our energy dependence and even our consumption patterns to allow us to extricate ourselves from the Middle East. What then? Well, assuming globalization continues apace, you simply have ascendant powers China and India, economies burgeoning, with no real incentive to follow suit. You have Russia more openly aligning with Iran, to put the squeeze on Europe and obstruct China and India if nothing else. You have a market vacuum in the petrocracies, particularly Saudi Arabia and Nigeria, both with large, young, radicalized fundamentalist populations. You allow for another regional hegemon, which would be fine if in the cause of self-determination, but is more likely to mean simply a different big dog in the area.
Beyond that is more Great Game speculation, but the main point is that those things have to be thought through as well, and there's absolutely zero reason to believe that the current gang has done so.