TCS Daily

Countering Oil Rogues: Target the Price or Volume?

By Robert Haddick - November 14, 2007 12:00 AM

"Oil rogues," fattened by gluttonous revenues, are again tormenting the United States. The global price of crude oil now exceeds $90 per barrel, surpassing on an inflation-adjusted basis the price recorded in the early 1980s after the chaos caused by the Iranian revolution. Iran is using its bounteous oil revenue to finance a very pricey nuclear-industrial complex. In Russia, President Vladimir Putin intends to use his oil windfall on "grandiose plans" to rebuild Russia's military power. In Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez intends to use his oil revenues to organize and lead an anti-American bloc.

For American policymakers, the problems presented by the new "oil rogues" run from the merely irritating (Mr. Chavez) to the truly destabilizing (Iran as a nuclear weapons state). Future American policymakers will rightfully be reluctant to resort to military force to address such problems. The alternative is economic sanctions, which ultimately means drying up the oil rogue's revenue, his oil windfall.

Revenue equals price times volume. In the past, sharp declines in the price of crude oil have done the trick, crippling oil rogues and their ambitions. The crash in the price of oil in the 1980s was enough to break up a mighty empire, the Soviet Union.

But what if there is no prospect of engineering another collapse in the price of oil such as occurred in the mid-1980s? And would a crash in the price of oil even be desirable to the U.S. and other oil importers?

If price is no longer a usable tool, then volume is the only other way to go after an oil rogue's revenue. Are the U.S. and the West ready to target an oil rogue's crude oil production when a barrel of oil costs nearly a $100?

Why the Soviet Union collapsed

Between 1991 and 1994, right after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Mr. Yegor Gaidar was acting prime minister and minister of economy of Russia. In April 2007 the American Enterprise Institute published a presentation delivered by Mr. Gaidar based on his book about the collapse of the Soviet Union. Drawing on his personal experiences and his access to Soviet archives, Mr. Gaidar concluded that the collapse in the price of crude oil between 1981 and 1986 resulted in a financial crisis inside the Soviet Union.

Starting in the 1970s, the Soviet Union became a large hydrocarbon exporter. The Soviets used this revenue, greatly boosted at the time by large oil price increases in 1973 and 1979, to pay for necessary grain imports, aid to Soviet client states, and, most importantly, the massive Soviet military-industrial complex.

But the oil price crash in the mid-1980s resulted in a financial crisis for the Soviets. Through the end of the 1980s, the Soviet Union was able to paper over its financing shortfall with credit extended from the West, mainly Europe. But when the Soviets reached their credit limit, Mr. Gorbachev no longer had the leverage to maintain central Europe under Soviet military control. The game was over. According to Mr. Gaidar, the 1980s oil price collapse brought down the Soviet Union.

1980s not kind to Iran either

Compared to the 1970s, the 1980s were not kind to Iran either. During and after the 1979 Islamic revolution, Iran suffered a 75% decline in oil production. Production crept upward a bit during the 1980s, but as mentioned previously, the global crude oil price simultaneously crashed. It is very likely that the collapse in Iranian oil revenues during the 1980s contributed to its decision to terminate its long war with Iraq. Certainly it wasn't the only factor; by the mid- to late-1980s, Iraq was receiving battlefield intelligence support from the U.S., Iraq was bombarding downtown Tehran with ballistic missiles, and Iraq was receiving generous financial support from other Sunni countries to help finance its side of the war (squabbles over those loans later contributed to Iraq's decision to invade Kuwait in 1990). But the collapse of Iranian oil revenues in the 1980s surely punctured Iran's post-revolutionary ambitions.

The role of Saudi Arabia

In his presentation, Mr. Gaidar asserts that it was a change in Saudi Arabian oil production policy beginning in 1985 that caused the global oil price to crash, which in turn resulted in so many critical geopolitical consequences. In 1985 the Saudi government had much to fear. The Soviet army was on the offensive in Afghanistan, perhaps on its way to the Arabian Sea. Meanwhile, Iran seemed to be winning a war of attrition against Iraq, not far from Saudi Arabia's own eastern oil fields. Although an oil price crash would cause much pain inside Saudi Arabia, the Saudi government must have concluded that it would hurt its enemies even more. According to Mr. Gaidar, in 1985 Saudi Arabia had the spare oil production capacity to bring down the price of oil and it did so.

Today's potential Iranian nuclear threat would seem to be even more of a problem for Saudi security than the events in 1985. So why doesn't Saudi Arabia repeat what it did in 1985 and use its spare oil production capacity to bring down Iranian oil revenues, and thus dry up the financing for Iran's nuclear program?

It does not appear that Saudi Arabia has, at least in the short-term, sufficient unused production capacity to repeat the dramatic plunge in prices it engineered in 1985. The International Energy Agency's report on global crude oil supply for September 2007 indicates only 2.7 million barrels per day of effective OPEC spare capacity, of which 2.2 million barrels per day is controlled by Saudi Arabia. This compares to daily global crude oil output of 85.1 million barrels per day. Extra Saudi production could reduce prices at the margin. But after this marginal increase was taken up by ever-expanding global demand, the elimination of any effective spare capacity could result in much higher prices as oil traders came to realize that no production overhang remained.

Might high oil prices be a good thing for the West?

As a national security issue, nearly all analysts in the U.S. would welcome a reduction or elimination in America's dependence on crude oil imported from the Middle East. Such a circumstance would greatly simplify American defense planning while also sweeping away many other diplomatic and political burdens. For now, such a state of affairs remains only a dream.

Yet high oil prices are the only way to make progress on greater energy independence. The oil price crash of the mid-1980s killed the then-embryonic alternative fuels industry. It wasn't until the last few years that prices have returned to a level that would make very deep drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, oil sands in Alberta, oil shale in Colorado, coal-to-liquid technology, various bio-fuels, and many other ventures economically feasible. For those interested in escaping from geostrategic responsibilities in the Middle East, one should be glad that Saudi Arabia no longer has the power to bust the price of oil and by doing so wipe out new energy industries.

Sanctions on volume

In the meantime, what should the U.S. and the West do about Iran, Russia, and other potentially troublesome oil rogues? With oil demand continuing to climb and output struggling to keep up, targeting oil rogue production would seem at the very least an act of economic masochism.

What has surprised economists is how little this decade's dramatic jump in oil prices has affected either global economic output or core (excluding food and energy) inflation. Perhaps oil-induced economic trouble is just around the corner, but if so it remains well hidden. In any case, the absence of a broader economic effect from the current oil price surge could give policymakers more confidence to use sanctions against oil rogues.

Economic sanctions targeting an oil rogue's production used to be an unthinkable policy option. Deliberately reducing global oil output was thought to be self-defeating and indefensible.

But when other sanction options have proved ineffective and a military option may be unwise, attacking the volume factor in the revenue equation through sanctions aimed at the rogue's oil industry may be all that is left. And if "sanctions on volume" help encourage energy independence in the West, that would be a welcome bonus.



What price surge?
It's not an oil price surge. It's a dollar failure.

Don't believe me? Check the cost of oil against the Euro, where there has been only a modest increase in price. Then check it against the fall of the Almighty Dollar.

An excellent analysis
Gives quality food for thought while laying bare the reality behind our "oil war" (I.E. whether or not it was strategically a good idea, it was definitely not any part of a vast rightwing conspiracy nor a corporate move).

What about China?
It is subsidizing oil and its currency is pegged to the dollar.

If there is a war going on, China must be the one most suffering.

Say what?
The price of oil in Euros is up 25% since January and has more than doubled in price since Jan. 2004. The price appreciation of oil, trade-weighted for foreign currencies, is virtually the same.

The run up in oil prices these past years is much more than a weak dollar story and is an oversimplification of the situation.

No Subject
Some phoney stuff in this article esp. lumping Russia in with real oily rogues like venezuela and Iran. Sure Russia is trying to sell it's oil at world market prices, instead of selling cheap to former commie countries; that's normal. Sure they spend some, or even too much on military; that's normal for big important countries.
But I hope oil goes to $100 or above because then countries like America might actually take it seriously. Maybe even so much that they might start buying those small diesels they already have in europe, that get about 80MPG already. Maybe so seriously that instead of american made vans having huge gas engines, the smallest of which i think is 4.3liter gas, and 6liter diesel. They might make van like the excellent Toyota Hiace with a 1.9 liter diesel. But of course Americans think of them as 'underpowered' although they're just fine in the whole rest of the world. So please quit complaining about price of gas while driving home in your new SUV(even if it does belong to your wife like John Kerrys).

No Subject
Putin is former KGB and has fantasies of making Russia's military glorious again.

So, they aren't fundamentalist terrorists but, come on, you sail a submarine out to the North Pole to plant an underwater flag and stake a terrotorial claim as if it's 1750?

America is already taking the price hike way too seriously--at least the stupid idiots in Congress are.

The Saudis have just said that OPEC isn't going to price oil in any currency other than the Dollar.

Russia, great one
By glorius do you mean like threatening to invade and take over Europe, to bury America,etc? I don't think so. They want to rehabilitate some of what has been degraded since the fall of the commies, and modernize etc, but not take over the world like before. Big, powerful countries are like that, they like to act big. And small, weak countries sit back and don't do much, because they can't. But if they are able to get powerful, then they act the same way.

Supply and Demand
You fail to mention there is not a shortage of oil but rather a lack of refining capacity in the US, all the result of environmentalist policies.

Regardless of supply, unless we do something about the energy situation were screwed. Kansas just stopped a ultra clean coal plant because of the MMGW hoax.

So when the lights go out in Georgia, don't blame me...

Dollar woes
Oil prices in euros have certainly increased as well-- just to nowhere near the degree they have in dollars. See these comments, for instance:

"The strength of the Euro in the past few years has meant that the rise in the Euro price of oil hasn't been as severe as in the United States. A barrel of oil hit 38.50 Euros ($33.60) in November 2000, and rose to 44.20 Euros ($56.37) in October 2004. Oil has risen 70% since November 2000 in Dollar terms, but only 15% in Euro terms."

For developments over the past three months, see this chart, reflecting a drop in the dollar's value that exactly nullifies the apparent oil increase:

Here's another article worth reading. Problems in production have been exacerbated by short sighted, often belligerent and counterproductive foreign policy, which has disinclined oil producing nations from increasing production.

Once oil begins generally trading in euros the overseas dollar is going to be of far less use to people around the world. And once they start reducing their dollar exposure, how are we likely to finance all the wars we have planned?

You got it!
>"Here's another article worth reading. Problems in production have been exacerbated by short sighted, often belligerent and counterproductive foreign policy, which has disinclined oil producing nations from increasing production."

So you just pointed out that their are problems in production and that foreign policy, and not just ours, has had an effect on oil prices. It is almost as if market forces (speculation, supply, demand, etc.) have an influence on the price of oil.

Like I said, and you confirmed, the weakened dollar is not helping the situation but it is also not the only reason for increased oil prices.

Guys, try not to get excited
too much about rogue oil states. Try remembering instead where most imported oil into the U.S. comes from.

Let me congratulate you in turn
We've arrived at an important observation. Phenomena are often, if not generally, the result of a complex interplay of different factors.

With oil, the fundamental underlying mechanisms are IMO, two. First, demand is growing ever larger. The fact is that prosperity is increasing, right along with the increase in our total numbers. Between China and India alone, we have maybe 350 million emerging members of the middle class. And they all want to drive around in big old Tundras and Denalis.

The second factor is that supply is very hard pressed to keep pace. In particular, traditional sources like the old light sweet crude fields are going flat out, with little or no reserve capacity. I don't think it's a strong OPEC keeping prices high. It's the fact that the only countries around who could increase production and soften the market are Iraq and Iran... and we're seeing to it that they don't.

Such increases in supply as we're able to achieve at this point will come from nonconventional sources-- ethanol, tar sands, oil shales-- the more expensive methods of extraction higher prices make feasible.

Tearing up the rest of the North Slope and deep drilling on all our shores will add a few more drops into the bucket. But they won't save the day. They'll just buy us some more time, and help with the fouling of our nest.

The master rogues
Gracious sakes alive! You're not trying to imply that Saudi Arabia is a rogue state?

Just because they've been exporting revolution for over a generation, funding thousands of Wahhabi schools worldwide and in fact giving the Taliban the inspiration that animates them?

Or is it because they got rid of the guys who became Al Qaeda by paying them under the table to go elsewhere, and start their revolution anywhere but at home? It's almost as though you think the people who flew planes into the Towers all came from S.A.

And they didn't! Only 17 of the 19 did. So there.

Thank you. But...
>"Tearing up the rest of the North Slope and deep drilling on all our shores will add a few more drops into the bucket. But they won't save the day. They'll just buy us some more time, and help with the fouling of our nest."

Get with the times old man! Today's drilling, when allowed, is hardly "tearing up" anything. Innovations have decreased the footprint dramatically. So onward Eco-Warrior! But not in that direction.

Right here in America, we have enormous energy reserves of coal, natural gas, liquid oil, and oil shale. The Green River Basin, mostly in Colorado, alone contains a billion barrels of oil per square mile in a thousand square mile deposit. That is a trillion barrels in all, enough to supply total US oil consumption, at the current level of 20 million barrels a day, for 137 years.

And innovations to extract it responsibly are constantly being developed. Here is an example:

Then there's coal: we have more of it than anywhere else on the planet. Just counting up the largest and most accessible deposits, with new coal-to-oil technology producing two barrels of oil from one ton of coal, we have 400 billion barrels, yet another 55 years' supply.

And there's the gigantic supplies of natural gas on our continental shelves.

With foreign oil now so expensive, it should be easy to produce our own energy at far less cost. And it will be easy if Congress does three things:

- Eliminate the depreciation schedule. We're about the only country in the world that forces companies to write off the cost of their capital assets over years, sometimes decades, instead of letting them be expensed. It's like loaning all those millions or billions to the IRS at zero interest. If Congress allows expensing just for energy-related investments, enormous distortions will result, vast sums flowing into energy boondoggles and starving other investment sectors. The only rational, legitimate way is to eliminate depreciation... period.

- Establish a mechanism to prevent predatory price drops by OPEC. Remember when oil went to $10 a barrel in 1999? That was done on purpose by the Saudis to wipe out investments in competing energy production. The best way to protect such investments would be a tax holiday for any domestic energy production, including "proceeds taxes" imposed by various states via the constitutional grounds of affecting inter-state commerce, triggered by a drop in foreign oil below a certain level.

- And finally, allow the Secretary of Energy to waive environmental laws and override judges' attempts to enforce them regarding energy production on federal lands. Along with the depreciation schedule, the biggest obstacle to increasing domestic energy production is enviro suits blocking it. Congress just created the model for this by giving the Secretary of Homeland Security the authority to waive enviro laws regarding building US-Mexico border fences in the 2005 Real ID Act. Thus, when a federal district judge agreed with suing enviros and ordered a delay in border fence construction last month, DHS Sec. Chertoff invoked his authority and overruled the judge. The fence will be built despite the judge's decision.

Much of the coal, gas, oil, and oil shale deposits are on federal land. The only way to extract them is to get the enviros and enviro judges out of the way.

So there you go. I am sure I have opened a can of worms with you but that is to be expected. It has been a long tradition of would-be Captain Planets to demonize Big Oil(!) and make them into villians.

If you were such a "realist" you would see the very real impact of policy based on such simplifications.

I believe he was referring to Canada and Mexico. Calm down.

BP's ads are greener than they are
I knew it couldn't last. You say "Today's drilling, when allowed, is hardly "tearing up" anything."

True, on dry land, when everything goes right. But poorly maintained pipelines can burst, as one did for BP in Alaska. And poorly piloted tankers can crash on the rocks, as did the Exxon Valdez. Mistakes happen. Particularly when there are no penalties for negligence. Although I'm sure that Shell Oil has gotten all touchy feelie about the polar bears. (Yes, I'll read your article.)

I know we need the energy. But we obviously can't entrust the environment to such irresponsible outfits. The answer, in this case, would be more and better federal inspections. With the ability to write up citations and assess penalties.

Exxon, BTW, still has only paid a small portion of what they owed on the Valdez disaster. So don't say we already have penalties-- they aren't effective.

Now how about oil shales and tar sands? Doesn't such development destroy large areas of the surface? I mean really huge areas, as is being done in the Canadian north?

We've reached the point where we have to have tradeoffs. Our need for more power is absolute. But we can at least promote public policies that enphasize fuel economy, while performing some sort of triage as to our extraction of energy resources.

Coal, for instance, is tremendously disruptive to the environment. It is also irreplaceable, given present technology. But we need to get working toward the day we can put coal behind us. I'm not saying we have to stop tomorrow. But we need to find better ways of powering our energy-intensive and energy-dependent society.

Waving environmental laws is the wrong way to go, when it gives a green light to irresponsible corporate citizens.

Quite right
Canada is by far the largest supplier of oil to the United States and for all practical purposes the only natural gas supplier that really matters.

What gets forgotten in this debate is that US oil supplies are highly secure compared to most other nations.

So the unanswered question is, just why is it that the Saudis have such influence in Washington when the US is so little dependent upon them for oil? So who is really affected by 'rogue' states?

The Evil Corporations...
are far more "green" than anything done by state-owned oil companies. Take a look at how things are done by the Russians and many of the Middle Eastern kingdoms.

I would say the government has done far worse at being a good steward of the land than Big Oil(!) has.

While I believe that environmental laws and regulations are needed, I believe far more in allowing available energy resources to be exploited.

Right, BP cares about us
I'm savoring the moment. You're actually trying to tell me the oil companies care deeply about our environment, and volunteer to expend money in keeping it safe from being disturbed. That they are not in fact spending gobs of cash trying to deceive the public with green ads and subvert the Congress with battalions of lobbyists carrying sachels of campaign funds. Not to mention sponsoring endless articles here telling us global warming is just some hoax.

The only stewardship they ever perform is what they are absolutely forced to do. THAT is the real reason the ditto heads in this forum are all against Big Government. Because it's only a committed government intending to safeguard the land we live in who thwarts their designs. Without regulations and enforcement, the corps would only leave a slag heap behind in their aim to convert the world into their own personal profit.

Not that the military doesn't also create immense amounts of environmental destruction. But I think you would have to give the prize to the extractive industries for utter disregard for the world.

What's our plan once we trash the entire planet, burn up all its resources and have to live in our own garbage?

More unanswered questions
"... just why is it that the Saudis have such influence in Washington...?"

And how has Israel gotten itself into the position of being the driver for our foreign policy? Administrations may change, but this never does.

Here's another one: Mubarak's Egypt. Can it be that the source of our great unpopularity in the Arab world is our military support of three of the world's most repugnant regimes?

You don't defend your socialist brothers?
If the state is so great, why not let them control big oil?

Market forces and private lawsuits are most effective at controlling any enterprise.

It is when a big company can buy off politicians and get special treatment, as Enron did in the 90s, is when problems begin.

Israel is the ONLY nation and people in the middle east that value individual liberty.

That's why they should be supported.

Remember when McDonald's sold their Big Mac in foam containers?

Why did they stop?

I couldn't have been because their customers demanded it?

It must have been because the government forced them to.

And the government forced them to sell salads, right?

Stop burning oil, the price will drop.

A car using only compressed air is being built in Spain and maybe soon in India.

Honda is building a fuel cell vehicle which uses natural gas as a source of hydrogen for the fuel cell.
A fuel cell has been designed which uses ethanol. It has been sold as a battery backup for your cell phone.

Those evil corporations like GM and Honda and even Exxon are researching the most cost effective way to provide their customers with low cost personal transportation.

What makes successful companies are those that know their business. A drill company that understands it is in the hole making business will be much more successful than one that is just in the drill business.

What do you mean by support? Just financial, or moral, or military support too? You might have noticed that the US has given, and still does give all those kinds to many various types of countries. So do you mean they shouldn't give any support to any country, or just to your favorite ones? So thru NATO, the US gives military support to countries like Norway and Denmark. It gives great financial support to Micronesia, and Morocco, and Costa Rica, and Bangladesh. Amonst all that activity then, you're just worried about them giving money to Egypt, and selling arms to Saudis? Do they hate the US for all the help they gave to Indonesia right away after their tsunami?

dollar woes and financing the wars
You asked how they would finance all the various wars. Of course they will finance them the way they have always been doing it in the past hundred or more years, by printing more money! They can only tax so much, so what governments did instead was create central banks so that they could then manipulate the currency, print fiat money, for the war on drugs, the war on fat, the war EVERYTHING. But waid a minute, I forgot you actually like some of the wars they do, but I don't like any of them. And you are also a hypocrite because in another posting you said there should be more taxes to pay for all these various wars. We see thru all your contradictions.

A specious argument
"It is when a big company can buy off politicians and get special treatment, as Enron did in the 90s, is when problems begin."

Think it through. If government had no regulatory role there would be no need to buy anyone. Industry could just do anything it wanted.

Incidentally, industry to some degree understands that it needs to be regulated. If there were no rules at all, how would a potential investor know what to trust? All the numbers Big Business put out, in the absence of meangful audits, would just be imaginary. And there would be no financial markets.

BTW, governments that control resources like oil do no better as environmental stewards than do private developers. The prospect of making billions of dollars has a corrupting influence over all those who handle the product.

The best system is when you have two or more opposing interests. The dynamic tension between operator and regulator, when it's working well, is what keeps industry clean.

Valuing individual liberty
"Israel is the ONLY nation and people in the middle east that value individual liberty."

But only if you're Jewish. Palestinians never were offered that option.

In fact in the current right wing environment there is even serious talk of disenfranchising the Israeli Arabs.

Now, please tie your argument in with my comments about Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Are we supporting them because they love liberty and justice and freedom for all?

Choosing our friends
"What do you mean by support? Just financial, or moral, or military support too?"

All three, of course. I'm suprised you don't know this.

Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are our top recipients of financial and military aid, by a very long shot. And the two are actually one and the same. We give them huge loan guarantees, for instance. Then they buy our weapons with it, and forget to pay us back. So the guarantee becomes a red mark on the ledger. It's a way of giving our tax money to weapons producers and the weapons themselves to our crony governments.

As for moral support, their interests are what directs our foreign policy as much as any other factor.

Compared to these three, and a couple of other clients like Colombia, aid to the remaining countries of the world is just a dribble. I have no problem with supporting friendly nations at all-- we live in a world of strangers and make a statement when we support our friends. It's just that our friends tend to be odious and undemocratic.

The lesson is not lost on the other nations. Noted that the US has given Indonesia alnost a half billion dollars in tsunami reconstruction funds-- about the cost of one day's war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"Industry could just do anything it wanted."
Think it through.

Any business must sell its products or services to stay in business. If they do things its customers do not like, they soon will be out of business.

The insurance industry started UL to establish standards for electrical safety. Why would anyone buy an electrical appliance that would burn your house down?

UL is not a government agency. The National Sanitary Foundation is doing great work with food safety standards in China. It is not a government agency. There is an insurance company institute that tests cars for safety. Industry design their cars to pass those tests, which are more demanding than government standards.

The most effective standards are those that are agreed to by the industry itself.

But when that fails, and industry violates the property rights of others, government is supposed to protect those property rights.

But when the government prefers to protect those who bribe them than those who vote for them, we have what we have today.

Why do you want to support intolerant Arabs?
Of course we support Saudi Arabia for economic reasons.

And it is better to bribe Egypt to stop attacking Israel then to have them become more radical. Especially since they control the Suez.

Why do you support the enemies of Israel, who do not support rights for Christians, or Jews, or women or homosexuals or non-Muslims?

Money or war?
Let's stop bribing those countries in the Middle East and let Russia and China take over.

Then they can destroy Israel, which you want and all will be well with the world.

How to end government regulations:
As much as I hate what trial layers do, the way to end government regulation and hold anyone, including industry, accountable is to use the civil courts.

One change to the current process must be made to make it most effective. Eliminate sealed court settlements.

Once a case has been brought into the court system, ALL records of must be made public.

Of course I know it, and I guess the answer to my question was, yes, you want the US to give the various types of support to your pet countries, in the same manner as you said elswhere that you also want the support for your domestic PET projects. Too bad that you begrudge all the money they sent to Indonesia that time as being too stingy; how does it compare to all the promises from other muslim countries, that renegeged on it? So even when the US gives to a country even you approve of, then it's critized as not enough; like a whinging kid.

They care about money silly!
>"You're actually trying to tell me the oil companies care deeply about our environment, and volunteer to expend money in keeping it safe from being disturbed."

Oil companies care about profits dummy. But they have a vested interest in minimizing impacts in order to be allowed to drill and refine. Governments have a far worse environmental record than private industry so I would be careful with your misplaced faith in the federal management of natural resources.

>"THAT is the real reason the ditto heads in this forum are all against Big Government. Because it's only a committed government intending to safeguard the land we live in who thwarts their designs."

You found us out! Damn you and your psychic powers!

"Thwarts their designs"? Dude, drop the Captain Planet illusion for a moment and actually read what you are writing. Their designs are to drill for oil, make money, and, whether conscious or not, supply us with energy independence. How utterly horrid!

>"What's our plan once we trash the entire planet, burn up all its resources and have to live in our own garbage?"

Hysterics. Wonderful hysterics. When scientific reality and denial of innovation fail you, rely on folk-Marxism and Gaia worship.

I hate to (not really) inform you that the environments in free, democratic societies is getting better. If we allowed second and third world societies to evolve the way we have you would see the same thing.

Rabid environmentalism, completely devoid of the scientific method, is the bane of the world's poor. It is your dogma that keeps them in chains more than any imperialism or capitalism you scream about.

My domestic pet projects
Actually you're wrong on every count. I don't begrudge the money that we spent on tsumani relief-- in fact I heartly applaud every occasion where we spend money on the mitigation of suffering, instead of on military weaponry.

I was gratified to find it was such a generous gift. Including all countries aided, the sum has come to $686 million so far. Hopefully in time we'll give more than the two million we've given so far to Bangladesh. That really is pretty skimpy.

I don't really draw a great distinction between US citizens and people around the world-- we're all the same species. But I do think it's a good policy to help people in this country first, when they need it, and overseas next.

I don't like it when the help is cynically given. For instance much has been made of the fact that there has been a lot of money put into Katrina projects in Republican Mississippi, and not in Democrat Louisiana. However if you look closely, all that money has gone toward new development along the coast, fuelled by federal money. None of the funds to speak of have gone toward helping out the people still displaced by the storm. They have gone to making developers who are already rich a little bit richer, while people who have lost their homes still live in FEMA trailers.

Let me spell it out for you. The way the Katrina funds have been spent does not make that one of my "pet projects".

"I don't like it when the help is cynically given. "

Given implies it was voluntary.

If it was tax dollars, those tax dollars were not freely given for Katrina relief.

Spend YOUR money on YOUR pet socialist projects.

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