Barry Eisler

Friday, April 28, 2006

Money for Our Oil Fix

Wow, I haven't seen Congress act this quickly since Terry Schiavo! It was only a few days ago that oil hit 75$ a barrel, and now Senate Republicans -- Republicans, remember, the champions of the free market, the ones who don't want to increase pump taxes because doing so would distort market forces -- want to give taxpayers a $100 rebate to buy gasoline.

It's all doubly strange because the president noted in his State of the Union speech that Americans are addicted to oil, and reiterated the "addiction" word just yesterday. And now Congress wants to cure the addiction by... well, by giving us money to buy a fix. Okay, admittedly, at current prices the fix will only amount to about two tanks of gasoline... but still. I don't really know what to say.

Except this: the latest opinion polls show that 78% of Americans disapprove of Congress's performance and 22% approve. What I want to know is, who are these 22%?
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19 Comments:

Blogger David Terrenoire said...

The last time the Republicans bought our votes, they were worth $400. Now it's $100. How the price of our loyalty has fallen.

Friday, April 28, 2006 1:24:00 PM  
Blogger Barry said...

LOL! What was the $400?

BTW, don't be too hard on the Republicans... Jimmy Carter wanted to offer a $50 per taxpayer check to stimulate the economy. Wrongheadedness and pandering are bipartisan issues...

:-)
Barry

Friday, April 28, 2006 2:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Rae said...

What's got my eyes rolling back in my head is that Bush is using this as an excuse to try more environmental atrocities. And he just may get away with them, because God forbid we can't drive our Hummers and SUVs wherever we want, whenever we want. Alaskan wilderness be damned, gimme gas, man.

And someone just told me that, rather than endorse a tax on the oil companies, Bush is going to sternly admonish them to 'behave responsibly'. Not that taxing the oil companies is magically going to create more natural resources, but c'mon....

Friday, April 28, 2006 3:10:00 PM  
Blogger dkgoodman said...

The 22% are the people who don't read the paper. :)

Friday, April 28, 2006 4:48:00 PM  
Blogger David Terrenoire said...

Barry,

The $400 was our share of the tax cut. Actually, it was just a deferred payment, which most taxpayers didn't realize. Reminded me of a 3-card monte dealer in Times Square.

And yes, I need to be reminded that pandering and mendacity know no party.

My biggest complaint with all this, and it's personal, is that the day after 9/11, I said, "If the president comes out and asks American's to sacrifice until we are free of our oil dependence, which is truly at the root of our terrorist problems, then this tragedy will be the seed of a great revolution for the good. I could see this, and I'm just a schmuck in North Carolina.

Instead, Bush asked us to go shopping.

I hope this new focus is not too little, too late.

Friday, April 28, 2006 4:52:00 PM  
Anonymous John Bain said...

Hey Barry,

I'm so disgusted with the whole lot of them that I may not vote in the next election. I've never seen such lack or leadership and a willingness, almost a hunger to pander to whatever special interest group is making the most noise....

Hope to see you in Bethesda this summer.

John Bain

Friday, April 28, 2006 5:51:00 PM  
Blogger M. G. Tarquini said...

Except this: the latest opinion polls show that 78% of Americans disapprove of Congress's performance and 22% approve. What I want to know is, who are these 22%?

*helpless laughter*

Sorry, Barry. Sometimes, I want to run into the street and holler, 'Uncle. UNCLE!'

Friday, April 28, 2006 7:29:00 PM  
Blogger Bonnie Calhoun said...

Rae: What's wrong with drilling in the Alaskan wilderness for more oil?

When they built the original pipeline, there were forecasters of all sorts of gloom and doom. I don't ever remember any of these prognostications coming true.

As a matter of fact I remember seeing pictures of caribou or some other large mammal walking under the pipelines.

No one wants our soldiers in the Middle East "just being there to get our hands on the oil". We continue as a nation to buy gas-guzzling SUV's, and now, Hummers. No one wants more oil exploration 'in their backyard', or in the Alaskan wilderness. China is outpacing us as the #2 consumer of oil, soon to be #1. And gas prices are hovering around $3 a gallon, never to go below $2 a gallon again!

If Congress wants to give me a $100 of my own money back, I don't care what their motivation is...I'll take it! $100 is not going to have any effect on how i vote when election time comes!

And John Bain if you don't vote, then you don't get the right to complain about what we get! This week 47 million people voted for the contestants on American idol.

If you compare that to how many citizens in this country vote for President, the turnout for political elections is pretty dismall. If more people voted we'd have a more representative government.

I don't know about you, but black people had to fight to get the right to vote. I do not take that privilege lightly, and I will vote in every election that I can until I leave this earth!

Sorry for going off topic, Barry!

Friday, April 28, 2006 9:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Rae said...

Hi Bonnie,

You asked "what's wrong with drilling in the Alaskan wilderness for more oil?" Although I mentioned the Alaskan wilderness, what was actually in the back of my mind when I posted was a recent report that Bush has relaxed the additive requirements on gas at the pumps. I'm quite frankly more worried about having to chew my air than about the Alaskan wilderness. But I'm also worried about the Alaskan wilderness, which is annoying, because I believe that worrying causes wrinkles ;-)

Anyway. There's about six months' worth of oil under Alaska, according to published reports. I haven't seen a cost benefit analysis, but I've gotta wonder whether the effort of firing up a pipeline is really going to benefit anyone other than the contractors who build the thing. My basic point is - six months? Why bother? Leave the caribou and mosquitos in peace.

I'll admit, your point about the doom-sayers is a good one. Nature is incredibly adaptable. However, in this case, I just don't think the short term benefit is worth the potential long term impact to the environment.

As far as gas prices go, Europeans are currently paying about $7 a gallon. They learned long ago to choose more fuel efficient cars, and to love public transportation. I have absolutely no sympathy with US whining about gas prices, except that those prices represent, in my opinion, the worst sort of collusion among the oil companies.

Let's see, what else? Oh. Here are a couple of links to articles published by organizations who are opposed to Bush's policies and practices around the environment. Admittedly, these folks are not fans of the administration, but you may find it worthwhile to take a look at what has them all so cranky:

http://www.nrdc.org/bushrecord/2005.asp

http://www.bushgreenwatch.org/mt_archives/000306.php

Friday, April 28, 2006 9:49:00 PM  
Blogger Bonnie Calhoun said...

Rae, I perused the articles, but both center on organizations that are clearly anti-Bush, so I have to politely take their reporting with a grain of salt. I wouldn't expect them to say anything positive! :-)

I think if our country wants more oil, and wants to drive gas guzzling cars, we need to suck it up and do exploration on our own soil. Other countries shouldn't be held responsible for our gluttony.

And by the same token we shouldn't be held hostage by other countries controlling our flow of oil!

As for the collusion of the US oil companies...Congress needs to rescind their tax breaks.

At least the interest hike in China has caused the markets to tumble and oil is back below $71 a barrel.

Friday, April 28, 2006 10:40:00 PM  
Blogger John R. said...

As far as gas prices go, Europeans are currently paying about $7 a gallon. They learned long ago to choose more fuel efficient cars, and to love public transportation.

The first part is quite true, and has been for a while. Admittedly, the relative distances between our furthest-flung places are - generally speaking - smaller than in the US. There's nowhere much in Europe that's two hours from the nearest town. Of course, most of the US population follows the same urbanised pattern as we do, so there's no great reason that it should be such an issue.

But love our public transportation? As a Brit, I must protest that "love"'s got nothing to do with it... ;-)


Bonnie --

The NRDC isn't - AFAIK - politcally-partisan, it's just that it is an environmental pressure group. And the current administration's record (like, to be fair, many other administrations past from both sides) has been poor. Since whoever's in power are the ones making the decisions, they're the ones who take the flak for it from those watching on. Currently, that means the Bush government. If next term there's a Democrat in charge, it'll be them.


Personally, what would bug me about suggestions of ramping up Alaskan oil exploration - aside from the dubious amounts in reserve there - is that it again discourages looking for solutions that don't involve getting more oil, further putting off the day when people finally get round to it.

And $100 each? The adult population of the US is - what, 180 million, ish? I think? What'd $18bn buy in terms of decent public transport projects in driver-heavy cities like LA or conurbations with massive commuterism? Probably not that much, but it'd be a start.

Saturday, April 29, 2006 5:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Peregrine said...

Personally, what would bug me about suggestions of ramping up Alaskan oil exploration - aside from the dubious amounts in reserve there - is that it again discourages looking for solutions that don't involve getting more oil, further putting off the day when people finally get round to it.

Alaska ships most of its oil to Japan to begin with.

At least here in Minneapolis, people *want* more public transportation--not just because of gas prices, but because of the hassles of commuting. Clogged highways. Insane drivers and the risk of "accident" as a result of their maneuvers. Snowy and icy road conditions that leave driving a mess. The convenience of reading, working, etc. while riding a bus or train.

Yet the state will not spend more money on it and, in fact, continues to allow cutbacks in service. They just want to build more roads. It took over ten years to finally get a light rail line built here. In the first year, ridership exceeded projections by 58%. Yet they are dragging their feet on other projects to increase public transportation opportunites.

From where I sit, it sure looks a heck of a lot like government, for reasons I don't understand, prefers to keep us in cars and dependent on oil.

Don't get me started on how they're now about to use my tax dollars to build a new baseball stadium after years and years of public resistance to the idea, and one failed bill after another. How did our priorties get so screwed up?

We need more people voting. Not fewer. If the American people want to bellyache about their government, then I think it's high time they started exercising their constitutional rights to do something about it. Otherwise, it's just so much bellyaching, and I'm losing sympathy for it. We're the ones who choose to be in whatever messes we find ourselves in. Our government didn't put itself in power.

Saturday, April 29, 2006 6:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Peregrine said...

Hmmm. I note I just used the dreaded "American people" phrase. If *Americans* want to bellyache . . . .

Saturday, April 29, 2006 6:10:00 AM  
Blogger JD Rhoades said...

Rae, I perused the articles, but both center on organizations that are clearly anti-Bush, so I have to politely take their reporting with a grain of salt. I wouldn't expect them to say anything positive! :-)

If you're pro-environment, you're going to be anti-Bush.

Saturday, April 29, 2006 6:17:00 AM  
Blogger JD Rhoades said...

What's got my eyes rolling back in my head is that Bush is using this as an excuse to try more environmental atrocities.

There is no crisis that this administration won't try to manipulate to advance its extremist agenda. Remember when part of the Katrina "repsonse" was a waiver of minimum wage standards for federal contractors, standards that were established by Federal law?

Saturday, April 29, 2006 6:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi all,
Came late to this, but wonder why in the interest of cutting independence on oil not one word has been said about ethanol? I realize most of the car companies cringe at the cost of converting engines to accomodate ethanol, but why not give them incentives to do so? Corn is a renewable (every year) source of fuel. Not a quick fix here, since it would take time and a financial commitment on the part of the average American to make it happen, but it seems a better alternative than the "six months" supply of Alaskan oil. After that, then what? If this country truly wants to conquer dependence on foreign oil, more than just a $100 rebate to each of us is necessary, especially when the bill contains a disregard for environmental issues. Just my humble midwest opinion.

Maryann

Monday, May 01, 2006 7:50:00 AM  
Blogger Lady M said...

Alaskan here!!!

Uhm personally - the pipeline is said to be pumping less oil. New reserves haven't been found - NOTE... This information was public knowledge to 9/11 and the current war.

I've always wondered who is benefitting?

Just a thought - WHAT IF... Our reserves truly aren't dwindling? Hmmmm... Ever look to see what GW and GW did prior to presidency?

Just some conspiracy thoughts.

As to drilling more... It costs a lot to drill and transport - If you wanted to build some refineries up here - then ya might have a viable option but either way - price is going to go up.

Thankfully - someone will think to up the prices of wages eventually and then everything else will hike up and it's an endless economic cycle. Truly enjoyable to watch happen through history.

Do I want them drilling here? I've lived on the North Slope - I live here in Alaska. It really hasn't bothered me or most of the people living here.

The pipeline cuts a swath through uninhabited (for the most part) areas.

Unless something breaks down - it doesn't cause any problems. It is well maintained and it doesn't seem to be hurting the creatures.

I think that a plane dropping out of the sky or a tanker spilling oil in the water has caused more damage than the pipeline and exploration. IN MY HUMBLE OPINION.

So drill away and explore - it gives us Alaskans more money and more of an economy.

If you haven't been here to see the wilderness - especially 20 feet from the pipeline - don't go all environmental on me. It isn't bad - it even has done good in some places.

Building a metropolitan city like LA in the wilderness would bother me. Hunting for more oil - bah! Go on - bring home the money. LOL!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006 7:27:00 PM  
Blogger Lady M said...

OH - and I'm all for finding a new source of energy.

I have an idea of an ENDLESS SUPPLY of energy - but no one wants to hear it - Not even Steven Hawking - because what would a little girl from Alaska know?

But I'll bet money that some day in the future - someone will "invent" it and it will be used.

Hmmmm... LMAO!

Seriously - I think I'll pub a novel on it some day - maybe then it will be used.

Anyhow - yeah - new energy sources need to be found. But which oil cartel (grin) is going to willingly sacrifice losing money? Hmmm?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006 7:31:00 PM  
Blogger Barry said...

Maryann -- I've been reading a lot about ethanol and it sounds promising. I don't know how we'll move toward it or any alternative, though, if gasoline is so cheap that every third car in the San Francisco Bay Area is an SUV...

Tuesday, May 02, 2006 8:52:00 PM  

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