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Works and Days

The Gaseous Policies of Barack Obama

March 5th, 2012 - 12:05 pm

I think that such words and deeds translate into some technocratic “never waste a crisis” dream in which we adapt to mass transit, begin to pile into Smart cars and subsidized government Volts, arrange our power use around the cycles of the Sun and wind, and in general consume far less as dictated by those in the technocratic overseer class, the waiting-Escalades-on-the-tarmac bunch who by needs must consume far, far more to save us from ourselves. The financiers of Solyndra and other failed subsidized firms are somehow exempt from the sorts of invective leveled at those who produce oil, as if we like those who lose our money and end up producing nothing but despise those who make a profit, pay taxes, and get us to work in the morning.

“Skyrocketing” for Thee, “Orchid-Growing” Temperatures for Me

I say technocratic because only those who work for government or live in larger cities or do not depend on driving vans, pick-up trucks, tractors, or semis could think it was wise for an oil- and natural gas-rich nation not to exploit fully its own natural resources. (Can any of you readers recall a civilization that in the past voluntarily chose not to exploit a valuable natural resource when it could be done safely, without damage, and to great profit?)

Whatever the level that the price of gas reaches, Barack Obama and Steven Chu and the technocracy won’t feel it all that much. Do you remember Obama’s first day in office when he abruptly ordered the temperature in the White House dialed up? (Had that “oil man” Bush been too energy-conscious?) David Axelrod himself complained that one could grow orchids at Obama’s new presidentially mandated heat: “skyrocketing” prices for us, but orchid growing for the president?

Think of some of the ramifications of this faculty lounge policy (I use that term empirically rather than as invective, given I taught among faculty for 21 years). Americans must borrow even more billions to import ever-higher priced oil that enriches many of our enemies, all of which will be pumped abroad under far more lax environmental conditions than had we developed our own resources here at home. (What happened to “Planet Earth”?)

Increased gas costs will also simply transfer lots of dollars that might have been spent in America to foreign governments, and will curb consumer consumption of other goods in an economic downturn. Is the driving force then some philosophical desire to restrict crass American materialism in order to return to a preferable pre-carbon dioxide Golden Age past? And if so, are the president’s sudden complaints about high gas prices and considerations to draw again from the strategic petroleum reserve entirely cynical, in the sense that once reelected, he and Secretary Chu will accelerate their restrictionist policies in hopes of keeping gas prices even higher? (We are already halfway on the road to “European levels.”) Or of making subsidized Solyndra- and Volt-like projects at last viable?

Why would the president consider tapping the strategic oil reserve, but not start a breakneck effort at developing new sources? Is previously pumped oil less polluting; does it increase supply and lower prices in a way that freshly pumped oil does not? Does his mockery of “drill, drill, drill” suggest that “not drill, not drill, and not drill” is a wiser alternative? Does Obama realize that even an extra 3 to 4 million barrels a day produced here would earn the U.S. billions in extra revenue and help to stabilize world prices by taking a commensurate amount of American demand off the world market?

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