Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Oil’s Well That Ends Well In Media, Politics

How full of crap are these neo-con GOPpers? Worse, how gullible, brain dead, or bought hook-line-and-sinker are our media and by extension much of our nation?

It was troubling seeing this before the last two presidential elections, and infuriating to watch during the post 9/11 build-up to the Iraq war. But you’d have thought the mainstream news outlets would’ve seen the errors of yore by now and made some attempt to rectify. Whatever happened to the embodiment of “checks and balances” a free press was designed to be. Corporate conglomerates have bought all media and thus use the “news business” as merely a cheap front for thinly-veiled advertising – or it translates in Brazilian, propaganda.

Propaganda indeed – kudos to our friends in Brazil for telling it like it is!

What’s got me going is this “energy crisis” and how it’s become THE dominating domestic news item. In case some haven’t been following along, our primary crisis in America is the economy. Remember the economy? Yes energy price escalations play a notable role in this, but that’s not a “one-size-fits-all” crisis! Sure, oil prices coming down will mean some ease in our short-term budget. But they won’t fix the housing bust and de-escalation! It’ll have very little impact on easing the credit crunch we’re in!

Most pointedly, fixing oil prices will do absolutely nothing to solve the runaway divergence between haves and have nots in this flat wage society. Everyone in corporate America, in the media, and most all of our politicos (Democrats? Where are you?!?) are studiously avoiding the obvious: only the elite see incomes rise, and the rest of us flounder with flatlined wages and burgeoning prices for everything – especially necessities. Jobs will continue flying overseas at a breakneck pace, and Wall Street will cheer it on and heap rewards.

On the flipside, any talk at all of windfall profits taxes on Big Oil (the most egregious of profiteers currently) bring howls of pain! Republicans wail that oil companies will mandate price increases to offset the increased bite on increased profits! In fact, the situation is so dire that a month ago the GOPpers started in whining that America’s economy was in the tank because we didn’t have enough gas to put in the tank! We needed desperately to open up drilling in areas offshore that were made off-limits by both Congress and then Pres. George H. W. Bush. (yes, that ultra-green, eco-terroristic, liberal enemy of oil companies everywhere, Bush!)

Without opening up drilling offshore and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, we’re warned America will never see oil prices go down, nor see affordable gasoline ever again! The alarms were dire enough to even get Dem. Presidential Candidate, Barack Obama and the Dem. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi to amend their previously-firm positions! “America is hurting due to high oil and gasoline costs that won’t come down!”

Funny thing ….

Since this became the mantra of GOPper neo-cons, scaring the Demos into dancing to the elephantine tune, oil has magically dropped by 25%! One quarter of the price, evaporated … and with no drilling whatsoever! Not even any pending legislation up for consideration! Think we still need to drill in order to survive as a country?

Of course, the retort was that gasoline prices would lag behind, not falling nearly as precipitously. Here in America’s petro-capital, Houston, prices for regular octane topped out at a minimum $4.01/gal. a little over a month ago.

Since then … guess what? The recent typical pump price has dropped here to a common $3.49/gal. and cheaper in some areas! We used to be within about twenty cents of the highest gas prices nationally, now we’re on average over fifty cents cheaper? (Can you say “industry price collusion”?)

“I drink your milkshake! I drink it up!” — Daniel Day Lewis from “There Will Be Blood”

But it gets better! Today we have seen the beginning of gasoline price wars! No – not who can be the highest. It’s just like the good old days … who can be the most notable of price-cutters! As I write this, the price of a gallon of gasoline at competing stations in northwest Houston is BELOW $3 a GALLON! At first, the two stations started out around $2.89/gal. Then the Chevron station bested the Shell competitor across the street by taking it down to $2.34 a gallon! At 10PM this evening, I drove by the stations. The line was too long to bother with, but the prices were $2.17 per gallon each, until the Chevron dropped theirs to $2.16 a gallon!

$2.16 per gallon! That’s not a typo or misprint.

That’s over 40% cheaper than it was a mere month and a half ago. No wars magically cleared up. No refineries recently came online after being damaged during hurricanes. No opening up of more land for drilling!

And the mainstream media? Neo-con GOPpers? The corporate-spooked Demo rabbits? Nobody’s paying a damn bit of attention, save for this: the media merely reports on the daily reduction in the price of a barrel of oil. 26 days in a row!

Even with the price drops, the media still only harps on the neo-con talking point: the “energy crisis” and the debate over how to solve it!

For starters, it completely occludes the REAL crisis, America’s true “elephant in the room.” Our economy is still tanking! Jobs are still disappearing! Americans are still losing economic ground! And the middle-class and working class are watching their American dream vanish, while the poor are watching all hope ever possible shrivel and die before their eyes! More drilling and lower oil prices are doing zero for that.

Furthermore, if this is truly an energy crisis, then how is it suddenly solving itself? We haven’t caved in to corporate “wish lists” or full-scale panic drilling in ANWR or off the California coast!

Here’s what’s bringing oil prices down: high oil prices.

Yep! High oil has meant increased domestic competition in places that long ago gave up the petroleum drilling ghost (like Pennsylvania) or have become recipients of the newest oil boom in eastern Montana and western North Dakota. Even Canada’s oil sands reserve is in full-bore production right now. Why? The high crude per barrel prices made it worthwhile to drill.

At the same time, Americans have dumped their SUV’s and gas guzzlers, begun driving less, taking public transit, riding bikes, eliminating vacations and have dropped their desire for gasoline! This past year, we’ve had a drop in usage of over 800,000 barrels of oil! And we’re collectively sick of the addiction and beginning to budget for eventual hybrid electric or hydro-cell vehicles. In short, we can’t afford oil.

So what happens when consumption drops? So does the market price. It’s not a hot commodity any more.

Meanwhile (say it again): the economy still sucks. And nobody seems to know it, save for those of us getting crunched under its wheels.

Way to report the real news, newsies! Way to see the real problems and seek out true cures, politicos! You’re all earning your keep, eh? Ehhh ….

“But some days are hard, like a soldier’s steel-toed boots
And the rent we pay to stay here gets high.” — Hard Times For An Honest Man, John Mellencamp


Moses Gunner said...

I just ran across this interesting article "Drill Here, Drill Now," that delivered a number of interesting points about offshore drilling. One interesting fact is that 620,500 barrels of oil ooze organically from North America's ocean floors each year, compared to the average 6,555 barrels that oil companies have spilled annually since 1998. It's an interesting article and i suggest you read it.

Vanessa E. Foster said...

Hey Jaxon, I've heard of that natural ooze (though I think the 620K figure may be overstating it -- how do they measure this? Do they separate ooze tarballs from spill tarballs?)

Actually you missed the point of the post: this whole "energy crisis" issue has become a convenient obfuscation of what the primary problem is: the tanking economy (not leaking oil tankers). Yes, energy issues need to be addressed, but they are as we speak even without drilling in the outer shelf or ANWR! It's happening due to sheer economics: nobody can afford this stuff anymore so we're actively saving to try to avoid having to purchase petroleum based fuel. And even for what needs are arising now, we're actually seeing increased domestic drilling in areas that have never even been considered on the map before.

Ultimately conservatives are using the "oil drilling crisis" as a red herring to a) paint themselves as concerned for consumers and b) to serve themselves up on a silver platter as many of the remaining things on their "dream list" as humanly possible before Bush/Cheney leave. These corporate "kids" have had unrestrained free reign in the candy store for nearly 8 years, and they're panicking as they see their free-reign time getting short. They can't kick their sugar-addiction.