Tuesday, August 23, 2005

We’re all to blame (all the Americans, that is)

Welcome back to ‘70s, and not because Converse All-Stars are popular again. What we are welcoming is the return of high oil prices. It’s not that big a deal though, because we only use oil to heat our houses, pave our roads, and, oh yeah, fuel our cars.

We all know the deal about the higher oil prices. So whose fault is it? We could blame it on the Chinese, because their demand is growing at an even faster rate that ours. However, if you go a little deeper into the facts, you will find that they are actually helping our economy, namely by providing us cheap stuff and buying our bonds, which makes our houses worth more. We could blame it on OPEC, but this time it really isn’t their fault. Underinvestment has caused shortages, but not shortages large enough to cause prices to rise more than six hundred percent over the past half decade. So are we really to blame for our own problems? Looks that way.

American society is built upon larger-than-life ideals. The cars we drive are no different. Eighty square feet? Sweet. And that’s all great when oil is $10 a barrel and gas under a dollar a gallon, but not quite as great when oil is pushing $70 and gas $3, with no signs of slowing. The price of oil has jumped twenty percent in the past month alone, making for a virtually vertical upward line on a crude oil price graph. It does seem unlikely that prices can continue upward at this blistering pace, but the scary thing is that we really don’t know. Prices will probably dip eventually, but maybe $4 or even $5 a barrel gas in the not-so-distant future isn’t quite as insane as you may think.

It’s easy to blame ourselves, the consumers, but it’s even easier to blame our government. Not counting the new energy bill, because it is a complete joke conservation-wise and in most other aspects also, they have done absolutely nothing to alleviate the problem. Now I know it’s hard to tell Americans that they can’t buy something, but the gas-guzzling of SUVs and other highly fuel inefficient vehicles may cause a fundamental shift in our society. In China, as we speak, people are lined up for miles waiting for gas. Do we want that to happen to us? Do we want to let the problem get so out of hand that we have to tell consumers that there isn’t enough gas for them to drive their car? The government, by trying to appease SUV owners and stagnant American auto makers by not issuing any meaningful regulations encouraging fuel efficiency, may ultimately cause everyone to lose if prices continue to rise rapidly.

Indeed, Americans are a very resilient people in a very durable economy and doomsday is not as inevitable as it seems sometimes. Already, we have been able to eat the rising prices of oil by dipping into our housing wealth, which has also risen tremendously since the turn of the millennia. However, how long we can continue to disregard rising oil prices is unsure at best, and the only way to stop these from rising, at least at the current ridiculous pace, is by enacting reforms that place sensible limits on how incompetent a car can be. Americans like to live large, and there is nothing wrong with that, except for when it could cause an unwanted shift in our society as a whole. We live and breathe oil. The last thing we want is to, for all intents and purposes, run out of it. The time to act is now.


At 4:15 PM, Blogger DBK said...

One of the most unfairly maligned presidents ever was Jimmy Carter. Carter saw what happened during the oil embargo in the seventies, learned about things like "Peak Oil", and attempted to get the country started on the road to conservation. Reagan came in and dismantled that right away and we haven't seen anything like a real attempt to promote conservation and alternative energy since, except for Jerry Brown in California who, naturally, was maligned like crazy and called dumb names.

You can blame ordinary citizens if you like, but let's also give credit to the media for not informing, to the government for not being proactive in solving crises before they occurred, and the oil companies for working their butts off to bring about these crises.

You know what's funny? When I say stuff like this I also find myself maligned as spouting "leftist rhetoric" or something like that. But I don't talk in rhetoric. I talk in facts. Anyone who sees this, look it up for yourself. These are the facts. This is all history and it is documented. These are the things that happened. When you look at them with a little common sense, you see what happened and you can even predict the future. Do you think we'd get a genuinely cheap, easy, renewable fuel as a replacement for oil? Of course not. We get played for all we're worth with promises of "hydrogen cells". In another words, another commodity that you have to keep pumping in at specific volumes. It's better than oil, but it is not a real solution.

At 7:45 PM, Blogger Eagle said...

nice point


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