Wednesday, July 16, 2008

An Angry Horde Corrects Me On Gas Omissions

An extremely astute Republican elected official enjoyed my post regarding gas so much he hoped the DCCC would adopt it as strategy because it seemed to him I was suggesting we should encourage high gas prices for all the "change"-related benefits.

Several other comments took me to task for being “partisan” on the oil issue and faulted the Democrats for causing this crisis by not permitting drilling in ANWR back when Clinton was in office. Another person basically said my idea of opening up the strategic reserve was stupid because we only have two months worth of unrefined crude. Yet another was offended because I suggested people live far away from where they work by choice. My mom also called and said I was adopted.

Boy, have I learned not to be even remotely flippant about people's suffering. I feel so Phil Gramm.

To clarify for everyone, I DO NOT like high gas prices, nor am I encouraging their continuance.

Rather, I was simply commenting that American political figures do not act without a crisis. Nobody (my party, in particular) will touch social security in the way it needs to be reformed until it's border-line insolvent. Nobody touched property taxes until there was an Indianapolis electoral revolt. And nobody will create a national energy policy if gas goes back down. History is our lesson. We had a crisis under Carter, gas prices went down under Reagan, and we changed NOTHING for close to three decades.

It's absolutely true that had we been drilling in ANWR under Clinton, we would be in a better place than we are now. But that would have been the "quick fix" then, just like it is a quick fix now. That's what bothers me with this approach. Oil demand will continue to explode. What do we do in ten years when we're back at this same place?

But my main point was to take issue with what seems to be a conservative (not necessarily Republican) idea, which is that it's somehow wrong to ask Americans to change their lives for our common good.

This is an intriguing notion. Mitch Daniels gets on television, and tells you to get fit because Indiana is so crushingly obese (no pun intended). Nobody blinks.

In California and the Southwestern states, our elected officials (and in these states, they are mostly Republicans) go on television, tell everybody that water is scarce so don't water your lawns, don't take long showers, don't wash your car if you don't have to, and stop making lemonade and, again, nobody blinks.

But we can't get our President to go on television and say, "Try not to use so much oil" because somehow THAT is an intrusion into the American way of life?

Why do we have a different approach to these goods? Could it be that one (water) is "owned" mostly by municipal governments who don't donate massive profits to political candidates, whereas the other (oil) is owned by an industry that gives a boatload of money to political candidates, most of whom tend to be from the president's political party?

Republicans will get credit for reducing gas prices when drilling starts, even if it takes a decade to create useable oil because prices WILL go down. Oil companies aren't stupid. They know who butters their bread, so watch the prices tick down juuuuust enough to make you take notice and say, "Thank you, Republican Party." But remember to look at the balance sheets later when we see that the oil companies just let some of their staggering profits go in the short-run for a long-term strategy of electing a more oily Republican president. I'm okay with letting them have their day.

I just want you all to remember that when oil is $7/gallon five years from now because we did nothing serious to reduce consumption or encourage alternative fuels that I told you so.



True Conservative said...

social security has been insolvent for years and your party refuses to do anything except scare people to death with it. Lowering benefits and raising taxes as Obama proposes does not make it solvent it. 3 people paying for every person on social security today and not having funding to pay for the 3 people is not solvent.

iPOPA said...

Guilty as charged,.true conservative.

Anonymous said...

Daniels asked people to lose weight. He didn't say lose weight or I'll use the power of government to deny you food.

Democrats ask people to use less oil. Then they use the power of government (drilling restrictions) to effectively raise gas prices.

The former is a request. The latter is coersion.

Why is it so strange that people would react negatively when you knowingly use the power of their own government to cause them economic pain?

Anonymous said...

You blame Democrats for failing to squeeze every last drop of oil out of our coastal reserves, yet you make nary a mention of the failure of our esteemed President to even deign to actually discourage consumption or encourage conservation. And even in his few obviously insincere moments when he has mentioned those prospects, he has never proposed an initiative to REQUIRE conservation or reduce consumption.

It's been proven time and again: no person, corporation or other entity changes their behavior simply because our government "asks" them to do so. If the government doesn't order it, nobody does it. Call the government evil for mandating a change in energy policies, but don't cry about economic harm when the future cost of failure to act is immense beyond reckoning.

Pump all you want. When it's gone in a couple decades, and prices fail to noticeably fall as a result of demand increases that far outstrip any modest production increases, you'll still be faced with the one undeniable fact: we must END our reliance upon oil. If our leaders take the steps necessary and force the change, we'll all be better for it, even if we suffer economically in the short run. The sooner we face reality, the better we will be able to avoid the inevitable panic that comes when the wells run dry.

Jacob Perry said...

Just thought I'd point out that within days of "W" rescinding the silly executive order banning offshore drilling (not sure why he waited so long, perhaps he was awaiting some of daddy's cronies to tell him to do it), that prices (current and future) for crude have dropped significantly.

But, let's continue to tell people that increasing domestic production will have no impact in prices.

Anonymous said...

Believe it if you want Jacob, but the price drop is directly related to supply issues concerning a ramp up of production by the Saudis a month ago, combined by polling data indicating that the American people have finally concluded that cutting back on driving is the only real option available to them.

Georgie didn't rescind the Executive Order until two days AFTER prices dropped the second highest one-day amount since the early 80's. But don't worry, drops in crude oil prices don't result in price drops at the pump for several weeks or even months. Of course, if crude goes UP tomorrow, prices at the pump will go up immediately.

Cite all the studies by conservative think tanks or agenda-driven authors that you want, but the fact remains that the only solution to the problem is eliminating the need for oil at all. And the only way to really accomplish that goal is to mandate it through legislation.

You don't clean up a crackhead by telling him that crack is bad for him.

Anonymous said...

The Saudi's didn't ramp up production. You obvioulsy don't follow the commodities market.
The Saudi's specifically stated that they would not increase production.
That price drop? Came as a result of an economy tanking.
For simple reference please refer to Fed Ex and UPS's downturn in business.
The economy's contraction numbers gave a clear sign to commodity traders that a slowing economy means less oil consumption.
According to figures from Department of Transportation their is now 30% less traffic on monitored highways in Indiana.