Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Politics of Oil. A Rant.

I never cease to be amazed by the political gymnastics we are forced to watch every election cycle. This time around, a key issue seems to oil. At first glance, it's refreshing to hear Bill O'Reilly types rile against corporate greed on the part of Big Oil, but it didn't take long for me grow resentful of the right's sudden piousness on the topic.

Republicans have been siding with the oil companies for decades. The current about-face is laughable and little more than deceitful electioneering. Deceitful, because I can't believe that anyone competent enough to hold an elected public office (granted, its a low bar) is ignorant enough to believe that corporate greed is actually responsible for our current oil crisis. Even as much as we all love to feign outrage at CEO's salaries, we all know that it's just how our game is played.

Shareholders want the best man for the job, the one who will create the biggest return per share, and they will pay to get the best available. To decry high CEO salaries is to deny reality. Similarly, it's ignorant to point to amazing oil company profits as evidence of some kind of fraudulent behavior. On the contrary, it's economics 101. Supply and Demand. And the oil economy is suffering from the double whammy of increasing demand (hello, China) and decreasing supply. It's natural for prices to skyrocket and oil companies to reap fantastic profits while it lasts. Welcome to Capitalism.

The fact that no one seems to grasp is this. Unless we make drastic changes, we will all be using our cars as planters sometime in the not too distant future. Tax cuts won't create new oil. Loosening environmental laws will only accelerate environmental degradation. Cutting up Alaska will only delay the inevitable. An oil-free economy is on it's way, and it's up to us to face that fact and take preparations ASAP. Personally, I'd rather taste a little pain now and have clean air and a somewhat intact ecosystem to live in later. That means that I'm trying to drive my compact car less. I'm trying to take my share, and no more. And my share is getting smaller every day.

Politicians think that we don't get it, and I kinda think they're right. I'm insulted anyway. Let's get real. The sooner the better. In the meantime, I'm trying to conserve where I can, and I'm giving my vote to a straight talking politician who is willing to face facts and respect me as a voter, granted I find one matching that description.

In the movie The Corporation, the CEO of a carpet company called Interface (I'm a shareholder) made a great comparison. He compared our situation on this planet to a person who has taken off from a high cliff in a plane. Unfortunately, the plane is falling fast, but the pilot doesn't realize it because he is still so far above the ground. The ground appears to be only gradually approaching. The sooner he realizes his true predicament, the more likely it is that he will be able to right the plane and prevent a crash. Right now instead of taking steps to right the plane, our politicians seem more concerned with making the trip as comfortable as possible until we crash.

The rising price of oil is natural, economically speaking. As a society, we agreed on these rules a long time ago, and every kid knows you can't change the rules in the middle of the game. The difference here is that this is no game, and the stakes are high. Curb your consumption.


Blogger dharmarae said...

did you hear the latest idea from the republicans? 100 dollar rebate checks sent to tax payers to alleviate the burden. idiots.

3:40 PM  

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