Posts Tagged ‘Oil’

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Innocence Lost: The Travails of a US Citizen

23-Jul-2008

The war in Iraq has left me with muddled thoughts: I originally supported the war, now I oppose the reasons for entering it, but support completing what we started. The war has left me feeling betrayed, exhausted, vulnerable. In other words, politics as usual.

I feel America’s leaders have lied to us; either through gross incompetence or sheer deceit. I am leaning towards the latter. I thought President Bush spoke the truth when he said Saddam Hussein represented a real threat to the Middle East and Western civilization. I believed Colin Powell’s remarks to the UN about the strong evidence of weapons of mass destruction (and I think Powell believed them when he said them). I believed it was a necessary evil to use military force in Iraq – even if it would distract from the on-going efforts in Afghanistan. How idiotic of me.

Had Israel not destroyed the nuclear reactor in Iraq in the 1980s, then history may have been different. However, they did. We did not invade Iraq for humanitarian reasons, as politicians today try to re-write the reasons for the invasion. We nominally did it for security reasons. I now believe it was for a single reason: Oil. How could I have been duped so?

We squandered the good will of our citizens, the international community, and the resources in fighting the real battle against terrorism. All for what gain? Could I have been any more stupid?

I cringed at the so-called “Patriot Act”, because of how it impinged civil liberties – yet I did not actively oppose it. I thought it necessary in the wake of September 11 and our need for counter-terrorism. What I fool I have been.

The words of The Who resonate with me: “I get on my knees and I pray, we won’t get fooled again“.

I watched the Watergate hearings on television when I was young. Then, there was an aura of innocence lost. If the president could be so deceitful, what hope was there for integrity in any political process?

The feeling I have today is strangely reminiscent of that era.

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Cheap Gas!

27-Apr-2008

Gas prices have hit record highs. Even adjusted for inflation, the price-per-gallon of gasoline is higher than it was in the 1970s. These increases have affected everything from costs of travel to Wal-Mart discounts to agriculture prices. Our economy is deeply affected by the price of a barrel of oil, and peoples’ jobs are at stake. And the high cost of oil is the best thing that could happen to America.

We, as a nation, knew 30 years ago that we were vulnerable because of our dependence on imported oil. When we were embargoed in the 1970s by the Arabic oil-producing nations, gas prices soared, our economy soured, and people waited in line for hours just to get gas. When the crisis passed, what actions did the United States take to assure our future energy supply? We bought SUVs and Ram trucks with 8-cylinder engines, that bypassed laws on MPG ratings – just to take our kids to school or go to the shopping center. We shunned alternative energy sources, because the initial costs were more expensive than continuing to use oil. We built suburbs in Phoenix, Atlanta and Las Vegas, useful only with intensive vehicular travel. We demanded the cheapest electric sources NOW, regardless of other impacts. We let ourselves believe the North Sea and Mexican oil discoveries had saved us.

We have not demanded government investment in renewable domestic energy. We have not demanded that our country stop doing business with countries who fund terrorists. We have not availed ourselves of public transport systems. And today, we bitch about gas prices.

Because of cheap oil, we continued pouring money into nations who were, and are, funding our enemies. Osama Bin Laden would not have been a household name, if not for cheap oil. Hugo Chavez would be a name like Castro – disliked but easy to ignore, if not for cheap oil. We would not have a war in Iraq, if not for cheap oil. Iran’s nuclear ambitions would be moot, if not for cheap oil.

We brought it on ourselves. WE are to blame. WE bear some responsibility for September 11th, because of our love affair with SUVs. WE are the reason our economy is in trouble today. WE will have to bear the pain in order to save ourselves.

Had we worked on this issue 30 years ago, the pain would have been less, the transition easier. Now, however, we’ve proved that the only way we will act, is for oil to be expensive. We *still* think we can get our cheap oil back without pain. Groups, such as this blog one , delude themselves into thinking we can go on forever; just like the stock market of 1999, and the real estate market of 2005. We need to be familiar with terms such as “peak oil” and “the Hubbert curve”, if we think the party will just go on forever.

Expensive gas will make our country more secure, keep less of our dedicated armed forces from dying overseas, and maybe, just maybe, bring us to our senses.