Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Heads or Tails #46 -- beginning with "O"

OK, then. In today's episode of Heads or Tails, our oracle Barb asks us to contemplate anything beginning with the letter "o." I feel like I'm going in circles.....

Oil.

Oil is "down" to $141 a barrel according to the newspaper this morning. That's up, just slightly, from $4.65 a barrel as it was before the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973. (Follow this link for a walk down memory lane, Curmudgeon-style.)

Gasoline prices have soared -- it's not just an inconvenience at present. Some people are unable to get to work, much less go on vacation. And because people who are working are not taking as many vacations, other people who live by tourism are losing their jobs.

Over the road truckers are getting killed by high gasoline and diesel prices. Food prices are rising in response, putting a further squeeze on families trying to shell out (get it?) for gasoline.

Yet neither political party appears too upset about it. Here's why:

Both parties' (very different) agendas are advanced by high oil prices.

The Democrats never did much care for suburbs. Not only were they infested with Republicans, suburban sprawl offends their green sensibilities. St. Albert Gore does not approve.

But if gas prices rise high enough, people will abandon the suburbs in droves and bicycle back to the central cities where they can be more closely watched. We can all link arms and walk to political meetings in our Birkenstocks, where we can be harangued about the dangers of transfats or the virtues of veganism.

High oil and gasoline prices mean people will modify their behaviors -- although maybe not quite to that extent -- reducing our big ol' carbon footprints. That will save the world from global warming! Then St. Albert Gore will be happy.

Meanwhile, the Republicans have also benefited from the rising price of oil: Haven't you seen the new commercials assuring you that you -- if you own a pension fund -- are probably benefiting from rising oil prices too?

Someone should have told the bank where my IRA is to buy oil futures -- my retirement accounts have plummeted just about as much as house prices. My IRA must have been heavily invested in mortgages instead.

And why exactly is oil traded as a commodity? We have markets for corn and wheat and other farm products because farmers need futures markets to hedge their risks that not enough rain will fall, or too much. But oil just gets pumped out of the ground.

And that's the other agenda item the Republicans are pushing: We have oil reserves in America, lots of them, but there are polar bears or dewy-eyed fawns sitting atop of them or whales swimming around them. Republicans would like to start drilling in Alaska and offshore and other places locally where we could keep the money we're now paying to the sheiks and the tyrants. Or, rather, some of them would.

Neither party is really pushing for oil alternatives -- oh, ethanol made from corn is touted, particularly in farm states, but it is inefficient and has helped put pressure on food prices too.

But swine excrement and animal fat from slaughterhouses and even old french fry grease have all shown promise as sources for an oil substitute. Could we have the solution to our energy crisis in our own garbage? But that would open up the suburbs again (Democrats frown) and the technology is not wholly owned by a small cadre of corporations (Republicans frown)....

12 comments:

milet said...

i think oil price hike is experienced all over the world.

here's my O! hope you can drop by. thanks.


milet

Rambler said...

oil prices has become a big concern over here in India as well

Ben & Bennie said...

That is just brilliant stuff, TC. "St. Al Gore" made me laugh out loud.

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Vixen said...

So very well said, I nearly stood up and cheered you from my desk.

Excellent post.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Very inventive and well written.

Anna said...

Very interesting. I do believe we should have been developing some alternatives long ago, but then we were all happy in the suburbs and didn't realize it would matter so much.

Patti said...

Great post, Curmy. You kinda summed up my feelings in an articulate way!

I love when you speaketh of St. Albert of Gore.

As for the question you posed about the man in my photo, I believe he is holding a rose, maybe one left over from his funeral.

Thanks for visiting. Sorry I haven't been by lately. I need to catch up.

Sammi said...

St. Albert Gore. Hilarious. Great post!

Shelby said...

I too loveth wheneth you speaketh of St. Al of Gore.

cj said...

I'll admit it's an interesting take on the situation but you neglect one simple fact - demand for oil has skyrocketed in recent years. Supply and demand cannot be factored out of the equation.

But, it is a great 'O' post.

Mine's up at:

www.rtmm.blogspot.com

cjh

The Curmudgeon said...

cj, I'll grant that the world uses more oil than ever, particularly as the economies of India and China expand. But there's no apparent bidding war among the oil consuming nations. There's certainly no shortages here... which you'd expect if there was a problem of supply and demand.