TCS Daily


Friday Fodder: Blood for Oil, Baby Bell Bullies, and Austin Powers

By Nick Schulz - November 16, 2001 12:00 AM

Editor's Note: This is a new TCS feature. As we head into the weekend, TCS will now bring you a regular column called "Friday Fodder," a recap of the news, events, and ideas that are affecting the intersection of technology and public policy. This week's Fodder is being filed from Las Vegas at the close of the annual Comdex conference. From here I feel confident saying that the technological future looks exceedingly bright in an uncertain world.

If nothing else, we hope this weekly column will give you something to talk about at those backyard BBQs, ski weekends at Stowe, or anywhere else you spend your free time. Enjoy! Now on to the week that was.


Supplies, Supplies The debate over America's dependence on Persian Gulf oil got interesting this week. President Bush received rhetorical bombs courtesy of some who say he is cynically exploiting the 911 terrorist attacks and the ensuing patriotic fervor to press for greater domestic production of oil. Interestingly enough, others said it was Sen. Majority Leader Tom Daschle who was playing politics with 9/11 and the debate over oil.

It's Good to Be the King

Meanwhile, policy wonks squabbled over whether or not we can do without Saudi oil. After all, with Central Asia and the Arab world in turmoil right now, the fall the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia could result in massive restrictions on Saudi oil. The distinguished scholar Irwin Stelzer says 'no' we can't do without their oil. The always engaging Susan Lee of the Wall Street Journal says 'yes' we can do without it (sorry, no link since you must subscribe the Journal online to get it).

This debate prompted my TCS colleague Jim Glassman to point out that, while the question of Saudi oil is an interesting academic exercise, it misses a larger point: "What the world needs, and always needs, is SUPPLY. The more, the better. Can we survive without Saudi oil? Of course. Would we be in desperate straits if the 7-10 million barrels a day of Saudi oil that are exported suddenly were taken off the market? Absolutely! It would kill the transportation industry and add huge costs to everything we produce."

Note to Sen. Daschle: as you continue blocking hi-tech and environmentally sensitive domestic oil exploration, please keep that in mind. But if those arguments don't persuade you, should check out this terrific piece about the debate over drilling in ANWR that says "Let the environmentalists decide"!

The article argues that it`s easy for environmentalists to say that we should not drill in ANWR, but that is only because they have no property stake in ANWR. Give them a stake, and they will decide that the funds from drilling can be used for other causes of theirs -- in other words, give them the same choices society has a whole has, the same stake in drilling or not drilling.

Ringing the Bells -- This letter is from a guy responding to a recent TCS-generated debate over actions taken by the regional telecom monopolists in the wake of 911. It summarizes the debate over broadband rollout as well as we ever could. Don't have broadband? Here's why.

It's Freedom Baby, Yeah! -- The Heritage Foundation published its invaluable annual Freedom Index . Of all the work produced by all the think tanks and policy organizations every year, this is among the most useful. And it helps put 9/11 in its proper perspective. Austin Powers has it right.

Goldilocks and the Chattering Class -- Barely a week after the conventional wisdom had the American military campaign in Afghanistan moving too slowly and too ineffectively, the Northern Alliance -- backed by massive American air support -- has swept to victory after victory, liberating the capital from Taliban control and moving south to its stronghold of Kandahar .

Now the CW has the U.S. campaign working too quickly - not enough time to secure a viable post-Taliban government. And, worse, it seems those Northern Alliance folks are no bowl of cherries . The horror! The pundit protests are much ado about nothing - especially after reports in yesterday's Wall Street Journal that some Taliban soldiers would surrender, allow themselves to be captured, only to blow themselves up with grenades in an effort to kill their captors.

Enjoy the weekend. Turkey day is almost here and we have lots to give thanks for. Check back in to TCS during Thanksgiving week to find out why.
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