Thursday, November 10, 2005

A Quick Primer on American Economics Today

An environmentally-sensitive cabal of 24 Republican "moderates" convinced the leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday to kill all attempts to drill in ANWAR or offshore Florida. First, a definition of cowardice:
Last night, House leaders gave up on their bid to allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, fearing the provision could sink their budget-cut bill when it comes up for debate today.

The House Rules Committee made the change, and also dropped other provisions allowing states to authorize oil and gas drilling off the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, when it issued the terms of the debate for the House budget package.

"There will be no drilling in ANWR," said Rep. Charles Bass of New Hampshire, one of the Republican centrists who led the effort to strip drilling in the Alaska preserve from the budget-cut bill that contained the provision.
The story notes the "reorganized" leadership. That's code for: Tom DeLay didn't get to knock heads together. Pity.

On the very same day, the U.S. Senate puts the leaders of several big oil firms on the hot seat. Here is a picture of arrogance:
Top oil industry executives on Wednesday defended record profits in the midst of high energy prices while U.S. Senators grilled them on issues such as refinery expansion and oil price-setting policy, according to a Reuters report.

By Wednesday afternoon, it remained uncertain whether the Senate hearing would result in new laws, or serve more as a forum for legislators to vent their frustrations over high gas prices.
When you add cowardice and arrogance together, what you get is disaster. Here's disaster:

Nov. 10 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. trade deficit widened to a record $66.1 billion in September as petroleum imports surged after Hurricane Katrina disrupted production in the Gulf Coast. Exports declined by the most in four years.

The shortfall in goods and services was more than economists forecast and followed a $59.3 billion deficit in August, the Commerce Department's figures showed today. The nation imported a record $23.8 billion worth of petroleum products.

Is that too much information for you?

Here's the quick and dirty version:

1. Americans like energy. We use it like there is no tomorrow.

2. Americans have no clue as to where energy comes from.

3. Katrina and Rita knocked a big hole in the American energy system. It's still broken.

4. Big Oil -- being efficient -- found a way to import supplies of gasoline and natural gas to alleviate the supply crunch, temporarily, and drive the cost back down. Oddly enough it costs less to resell the oil of OPEC and Europe than it does to refine product locally. Since a lot of facilities are off line, Big Oil costs are down. Therefore profits are up.

5. Big profits mean Americans are pissed off at Big Oil because Americans are brain dead when it comes to energy and economics.

6. The U.S. Senate knows the truth but would rather bash Big Oil in televised hearings because a) it makes PO'd voters happy and b) it sets up the possibility of new "windfall profits" taxes. Senator Porker is at his eloquent best when defending the voters back home from greedy capitalists.

7. The U.S. House of Representatives, a dysfunctional outfit if ever there was one, generally cannot find its ass with both hands, sitting down. Republicans, looking for love in all the wrong places (the media and with liberals), trash their own energy bill (including ANWAR drilling) in an effort to save a budget cutting bill that probably has no chance in hell of passage. In doing so they violated countless campaign promises to the effect that they will fix American energy policy.

8. New U.S. trade numbers show that we are setting new records for public and private debt by running up record deficits. We are exporting less because we are building less, having outsourced many jobs to foreign lands where people don't mind working an hour for an honest nickel. We are importing more. Using what for money, we have no idea. Credit? Newly created dollars backed by fake numbers? Our public debt has now gone over the $8 trillion mark. Our private debt is nearly as bad.

9. Americans, having been aroused from their reverie, are demanding hard answers to the following questions:

1. Why isn't there a CSI: Seattle?

2. Why are there so many commercials on TV?

3. If NFL cheerleaders are having sex in Florida restrooms, why can't we see a little bit of that at halftime instead of Chris Berman?

We mentioned cowardice and arrogance.

We forgot decadence.

It still adds up to an oncoming disaster, arriving in your town entirely too soon.


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