as dumb as he/we want to be

I just love picking on Thomas Friedman, for some reason:

Hillary Clinton has decided to line up with John McCain in pushing to suspend the federal excise tax on gasoline, 18.4 cents a gallon, for this summer’s travel season. This is not an energy policy. This is money laundering: we borrow money from China and ship it to Saudi Arabia and take a little cut for ourselves as it goes through our gas tanks. What a way to build our country.

No, not Saudia Arabia — Canada and Mexico! Canada is our #1 oil source (both crude and refined), and Mexico is #3. Combined they provide more oil than Saudi Arabia, Nigeria (#4), Venezuela, and Iraq, combined (or very close, depending on the particular month).  We import almost twice as much from Canada then Texas produces (I did not realize that).  But I guess shipping money to Canada doesn’t sound so nefarious, doesn’t have all the connotations of Cheney-Haliburton-Iraq backroom deals and such.

I think I figured out why so many people make the Saudi mistake — they are clearly the #1 oil exporter in the world. And I suppose the assumption is that since the US is the #1 importer, we must be buying their oil… but the reality just underscores the nature of the global oil market. I imagine we get oil from our closest neighbors first because pipelining is so much cheaper than shipping via tanker ships. As the price of oil goes up and oil shale in Canada becomes more cost-effective, the percentage of North American oil imported to the US could increase.

Anyhow, Friedman is all upset that the US government doesn’t have a significant wind/solar program:

The Democrats wanted the wind and solar credits to be paid for by taking away tax credits from the oil industry. President Bush said he would veto that. Neither side would back down, and Mr. Bush — showing not one iota of leadership — refused to get all the adults together in a room and work out a compromise. Stalemate. Meanwhile, Germany has a 20-year solar incentive program; Japan 12 years. Ours, at best, run two years.

Well, good for Germany and Japan. This shouldn’t be a source of consternation for Americans — we should take comfort that somebody, somewhere in the world is committing time and resources to develop better wind and solar power. Because here’s the thing — and I can’t believe Friedman ignores this point — IT’S A GLOBAL ECONOMY (isn’t he’s supposed to be Mr. Globalization?), and when/if great advances are developed, Americans and Canadians and Saudis (if they’re so inclined) will be able to buy this technology from the Germans.  German engineering gave the world the automobile and Heidi Klum — I’m willing to give them a shot at this…

I thought we had moved beyond the Cold War mentality of Not Invented Here, or maybe I’m just overly optimistic.  Transistor technology and computing was invented and revolutionized in America — does that mean that we’re the only country to benefit from computers and information technology? Of course not. The same will be true of eco-friendly power.

Unless, of course, the investments of Germany and Japan do not reap any rewards, in which case we should all be glad it is their misguided investment and not ours.  After all, don’t we have a recession to dig ourselves out of?

All I know is the next six months are critical… maybe then we should re-evaluate a federal/nationwide investment.  (just kidding)

Final thought:  domestic oil production peaked in 1970 at 9.6M barrels per day (about 2/3 of our current needs) but has trailed off to 5.1M barrels per day (a decline of 48%)… anyone got an easy answer why that is?  did the wells dry up?



Filed under debunking, energy policy, Uncategorized

3 responses to “as dumb as he/we want to be

  1. Actually, I do believe that U.S. oil production has indeed declined because of limited resources. This is not to say that we have run out, or that we even will; we simply must find other sources of energy and more efficient ways to use our fossil fuels. (see Hubbert peak theory)

  2. godozo

    For me, the issue on importing fuel is this: As long as we’re funding Mexico’s hyper-corrupt socialism and Canada’s high-tech desecration of the northern Alberta environment, we’re indirectly funding the Saudi’s Wahhabi activities (including al Qaeda). Oil prices are determined worldwide, not just nearby.

  3. godozo: as opposed to funding Texas-old-boy crony-ism, Alaskan desecration*, and (insert other American oil stereotype/scenario here).

    of course oil prices are determined worldwide, but increased supply domestically and from our neighbors would push oil prices lower. if OPEC cuts back supply to keep prices up, money is diverted to our neighbors rather than going to OPEC. OPEC could only increase their share of profits by increasing supply so that it’s unprofitable for others to produce… but then that gets oil prices down, so it would make most people happy (or happier, everything else being equal).

    (* I don’t buy the “desecration of northern Alberta” argument, nor the supposed dangers of increased drilling in Alaska, obviously)

    Kelly — from what I’ve read, the overwhelming limiter on available resources has been due to legislation ‘protecting’ ‘sensitive’ areas and general NIMBY-ism. both of these trends are choices, not constraints imposed on us by nature or foreign powers, and both of these trends are reversible if we choose. if we choose to continue the path we’re on, we negate the right to complain about the consequences.

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