Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Silver Lining

OK, it's been all over the news, and I'm sure it's been hurting your wallet, pocketbook, purse, or European carry-all. Oil prices reached an all-time high this week at > $132 per barrel, and gas prices have been higher than $4 per gallon for the past 2 weeks. Everybody is moaning and groaning.

However, my thoughts at this time are "no pain, no gain". We need to feel the pinch of high oil prices. We need to feel more than a pinch, we need a good punch, a good blow, a good beatdown. Why? Because it is the only way to provide enough impetus to get us moving on alternative energy sources. And, finally, finally, it appears that people are decreasing consumption in response to these high prices. Yes, for the first time since 1979, driving in the U.S. decreased on a monthly basis (by 4.3%). It's classic supply/demand economics.

I know there are both liberal and conservative readers of this blog. All the liberals are probably largely supportive of investment and implementation of alternative energy sources (wind, solar, hydrogen fuel cell cars). You conservatives out there, you may be rolling your eyes right now.

But, conservatives should embrace the shift away from fossil fuels just as much as liberals. Why?

1. Isn't this free market capitalism at its best? When the cost of one good or service becomes too high, other more efficient and less expensive goods become more attractive.

2. The majority of money that we are spending on oil is going straight to terrorist countries. Why do we want to fund our enemies?

3. Alternative energy with provide a host of new jobs for young scientists and businessmen, and will promote and necessitate advances in technology.

4. What is so wrong with breathing cleaner air? Recent studies have shown that smog actually increases the risk for premature death.

5. Why are you so resistant to change? What is it about oil that won't let you give it up? Did people complain when the automobile replaced the primary method of transportation (horse and buggy) back in the early 1900s? Did people complain about the arrival of airplanes to replace train and boat travel? Technology is great. If we can get around and power our homes and buildings by cleaner and more efficient means, why not?

I defy you to provide a compelling argument to stop the shift to more solar, nuclear, wind power. Don't bet against Boone Pickens!!!


Will said...

Steve - I agree with your overall message but is this really free market economics at work? Sure, demand increases (China, etc), supply goes down and prices go up. But price is set by a cartel, racheted up again by another oligopoly (u.s. oil comapanies) and then protected, taxed and more or less completely arbitrarily set. Not totally arbitrarily; set in a way that benefits everyone except the consumer and the environment.

Don Martin said...

When America's largest oil producer (Exxon) ranks 14th overall in the world, I find it tough to believe that an American oligopoly has much that much sway on America's gas prices. If they did, why didn't they ratchet them up a long time ago and why does the US still have some of the cheapest gas in the developed world? I know most lefties love to blame anything American first and anything corporate second, but this isn't the fault of evil American corporations (trust me - some things actually are not the fault of American corporations - honest). The fact is that the flowers of capitalism are sprouting through the paved decay of socialism in China and India to allow former government slaves own their own cars (and a little bit of freedom) for the first time. As a "conservative" (whatever that means, but I assume you will label me as such), I don't really qualify for any of your assumptions. I did not roll my eyes. I do welcome alternative fuel research. I actually am glad that we are finally getting to the growing pangs of a market that will foster such research, which I guarantee will be done much better than any government imposed program financed by my taxes. In the meantime, I still think we should drill in Alaska and elsewhere to alleviate (not cure) some of the pressures, but I know such a radical, extremist view may be anathema to such reasonable non-conservatives(?) as you. Regardless, I assume you are happy that gasoline prices finally have reached the levels that liberals have wanted for decades. Bully for you! You got what you wanted! Why so glum?

Will said...

I would like to point out that I blamed a foreign cartel (OPEC) first, U.S. oil companies second and all things American third.

julie said...

Don left the longest comment I've ever seen on a blog in my life.