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"If stupidity got us into this mess, then why can’t stupidity get us out?"—Will Rogers

THE MESS; Over 50 years ago a geologist named M. King Hubbert accurately predicted that US oil production would peak in the 1970s. The arrival of peak oil inspired our political leadership to unleash all their resources of stupidity. They curbed the development of nuclear power, closed most of the American coast-line to exploration and extraction of oil and gas, placed a moratorium on the exploitation of our huge shale oil resources out west, put an end to refinery building for thirty years, and forbade the oil companies from disturbing Alaskaís sacred caribou. The development of hydroelectric power and wind power have been unsystematically impeded by tangles of environmental regulations and law suits.

Even this was not enough. Democrats and even Republicans have collaborated in deficit spending financed by foreign borrowing which have depressed the value of the dollar, increasing the price of the foreign oil which we must buy to keep our economy going.

STUPIDITY TO THE RESCUE? Will stupidity get us out of this mess? Weíll soon find out. Washington has mounted a massive Stupidity Surge to address the problem.

Frary with Artist

We have new CAFE standards obliging domestic auto manufacturers to increase miles per gallon performance. Very helpful. GM reports a 37%drop in SUV, pick-up and van sales in May. Did its executives really need Congress to tell them what 4-dollar gas means for their product line?

A gaggle of senators have written a letter to the Commodities Futures Trading Commission requesting them to raise margin calls on futures contracts. Sounds like a good idea, but whatís the point? Do they really think the commissioners havenít been considering that step for weeks? Or that they have greater knowledge of the commodities market? The CFTC, of course, is trying to figure how to quell speculative exuberance without creating a crisis in a half-trillion dollar financial market.

Windfall profits taxes? Everybody who hates Big Oil (thatís just a little short of everybody) will feel good about that, but it wonít lower anybodyís fuel bills. The governmentís take from this profits tax are intended to support the clean energy schemes contained in HR 6049.I refer my readers to Subtitle A, Part I, Section 101, subsection (b),sub-sub section (1), Paragraph B, clause (iii) 'PRELIMITATION CREDIT The term `prelimitation credit' with respect to any facility for a taxable year means the credit determined under subsection (a) with respect to such facility for such taxable year, determined without regard to subparagraph (A) and after taking into account any increase for such taxable year under clause (ii).'

While we wait for our congressmammals to figure out what they voted for; the government reckons that we have 96.4 billion barrels of oil under ANWR and the Outer Continental Shelf. But we are told that we canít drill our way out of this crisis. That means we must buy our way out. It costs us $600 billion of our $700 billion trade deficit to supply our fossil energy needs, which are 85% of our total energy needs.

Do the math. At a hundred dollars a barrel our reserves are worth nearly ten trillion dollars. At two hundred dollars they will be worth nearly twenty trillion dollars. Do we really want this money used to finance in-door ski slopes for Arabs?



Frary with Artist
John Frary, Concerned Citizen

The Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWAR) is reckoned to contain 98 billion barrels of oil and 27,000 caribou. For those of us who truly love caribou, nine trillion eight hundred billion dollars (reckoning the oilís value at a conservative $60 per barrel) is a modest price to keep them content and undisturbed in their natural environment.

But I see a threat here. Suppose a mob of terrorists performs a simple mathematical calculation and determines that the US Congress values these noble animals at $217,000,000 each (or $542,500 per lb.). If the villains abduct a hundred of them Congress could face a $21 billion dollar ransom. What then? Itís not as if they kidnapped a hundred citizens of Madawaska or Millinocket. Nobody expects Congress to pay $217,000.000 a head for a bunch of Madawaskans of Millinockers, but caribou? Thatís a different matter altogether.

Iíve written a letter to the Department of Homeland Security demanding that immediate measures be taken to avert this menace.


San Fran Democrats, Blue Dog Democrats...

Frary with Artist

According to the New York Times, Nancy Pelosi has told the Democrats that if they give way on the demand to drill for domestic oil, Ďthen we might as well pack it up and go home.'

If Nancy packs up she will be going home to a district serviced by a heavily sub-sidized mass-transit system where the median income is over $76,000 and a four bedroom home goes for $1,300,000. In Bangor a comparable home goes for about $255,000. The median income for Penobscot County is $29,000. Nancy probably doesnít know this. Sheís probably never met a single person who spends a quarter of his income to keep his home at 66 degrees.

Mike Michaud lives in Maineís second district. So why does he vote as if he lives in San Francisco? He still passes himself off as a ĎBlue Dog Democratí yet he follows Nancy around like a poodle on a chain while other Blue Dog Dems from rural states are coming out for drilling in America.

Hereís some news Mike and Nancy may have overlooked. We are in a hell of a fix, with only a few choices on the table, all of them uncertain. Pretending that Maine is just like San Francisco is not one of them.




Here's a summary of the problem. Our Congresscritters want lower prices but oppose more production to increase supply. They want oil independence while forbidding exploitation of most of the big sources of domestic oil. In order to reduce menacing greenhouse gases they want us to use less oil but oppose higher oil prices that reduce demand. They want more oil company investment and they yearn to tax away the profits needed to finance that investment.

Conclusion? Well, I've been accused of being too negative in my commentary. So I won't tell you my conclusion. Hint: see title above.

More immediately, New England's oil dealers understand that soaring prices have no visible relation to the current balance of supply and demand. U.S. oil executives agree. They told Congress recently that prices should be between $34 and $90 a barrel.

The oil dealers' complaints are undeniably correct. Speculators don't deal in current prices. They deal in guesses about future prices. They buy and sell paper contract and never take delivery of oil products, except the occasional bottle of extra virgin olive oil for personal use.

The oil dealers believe the solution is legislation that will prohibit speculation. I have received e-mail requests, as a long-shot candidate for Congress, to support a law written by Connecticut's Rep. Larson. Unless and until I receive some explanation of how this proposed legislation will prevent speculation from moving off-shore, to financial markets in London, Paris, Duesseldorf and Zurich, I must decline to do so. Oil is an international commodity with an international market. Speculation cannot be controlled by the United States Congress.

It may be that Rep. Larson has found the time between his duties as Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, member of the Ways and Means Committee, member of the Subcommittee on Trade and member of the Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures to master the intricacies of a 500-billion-dollar commodities market. That's assuming that he isn't spending a lot of time dialing for campaign dollars, mingling with his constituents, posing for photographs, making speeches, and working to promote a feasibility study of the Coltsville section of Hartford as a first step in gaining a National Park designation for the area from the Department of the Interior.

It may also be that the Hartford Superstatesman's experience as a high school history teacher and insurance drummer has equipped him for tackling this stupendous task.

Or it may be that he is simply another vote-hungry blowhard latching onto an issue about which he knows as much as your average trolley-car conductor.

Speaking from my own 32-year experience as a chalk-smeared drudge in a community college classroom, I propose that Congress unite behind the 'American Energy Production Act of 2008' designed to expand oil production of the U.S. coasts and in Alaska.

It will not bring back cheap oil, because the new fields involve more expensive methods of extraction and transportation. It is said to have the potential to increase domestic production enough to keep America running for five years without any foreign imports whatever. I have no expertise of my own to support that estimate, and it will take some years to deliver that quantity.

It would however cause the speculators to reconsider their guesses about future supply. That is about the only method I can see for lowering current prices.

Prof. John Frary

Out of Gas?

The question most often asked by voters I meet is--- 'What will you do to bring down gas and oil prices!' This will come as a big surprise to everyone with an IQ below room temperature.

I suppose that should be my cue to say 'I feel your pain' but the truth is I feel MY pain a good deal more. I have to travel all over the biggest congressional district east of the Mississippi hunting for votes, and I donít have a congressional travel allowance to cover the cost. Presque Isle and back; thereís fifty dollars gone from my dwindling savings. This is my reward for waiting until I was 63 to buy my first car?

The only really reliable test of a politicianís honesty is this: is he telling you something you donít want to hear? So letís try this: a freshman congressman with only one term in view canít do damn all to lower your gas and oil prices. Maybe youíd like another answer, but you know thatís a true answer, so like it or lump it. I suppose one could propose nuking China and India to lower demand, but who would listen?

So what is the Gang of 535 in the US Congress doing about high gas prices? They are busily writing legislation, fifty bills proposed so far and none of them the slightest use. They are entertaining the public by grilling oil company executives in committee meetings. Does anyone really believe that this will bring prices down?

John McCain propose some temporary relief by suspending the 18.4-cent federal gas tax. Barack Obama opposes that and proposes a windfall profits tax on top of the 35% corporate tax. This will make people who hate oil companies (donít we all?) feel better and give Congress more money to play with, but it wonít do a thing to lower prices. The Congressional Research Service found in a 1990 analysis that the windfall tax enacted under President Carter reduced domestic oil production by 3% to 6% and increased oil imports from OPEC by 8% to 16%. Yet Obama assures us that a windfall profits tax would somehow magically reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Exxon Mobil made over $40 billion last year. It reports $11.66 billion for this yearís first quarter. Letís suppose that it clears $50 billion in 2008. A 2005 Department of Transportation study estimated that there were 247,421,120 registered passenger vehicles. Leaving aside transport vehicles, ATVs, snowmobiles, lawn-mowers, etc. and what do you get if you confiscate all of Exxon Mobilís 2008 profits, ending future exploration, extraction and refining? You get about three tanks filled per vehicle. Big deal.

Exxon Mobil may be the largest publicly traded oil company in the world, but it is only the fourteenth largest oil company. The thirteen largest are owned by foreign countries, most members of the OPEC cartel. So Congress has a solution for them as well. It just passed the NOPEC bill by a 325 to votes to 82, so that OPEC can be sued in American courts for 'restraint of trade.'

Oh sure, unleash the trial lawyers and send in the Marines to serve subpoenas. As Mark Twain put it: ďReader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.Ē




Consider this story from Tampa Bay's Channel 10 news:

"Clearwater, FL-- UPS drivers are trying to save some gas by only making right turns. So, how do they do it? Tampa Bay's 10 News reporter Dave Balut explains.

"UPS is known for its brown trucks. But here's something you may not know: the drivers of those trucks make it a point to only turn right.

"It may sound strange, but after years of research, UPS discovered that when its trucks made mostly right turns they actually delivered better gas mileage.

"What's the biggest difference with right turns?

"Instead of wasting gas sitting in traffic, avoiding left turns keeps trucks moving and drivers have found they make deliveries faster by going right. It's also good news for UPS' bottom line. By turning right, the company says it saved over 3.3 million gallons of gasoline in 2007 alone.

""It's a huge amount, and we also shaved off a total of over 30 million travel miles for our drivers," according to Laura James, UPS' industrial engineering manager.

"When absolutely necessary, drivers are allowed to make a detour and go left.

"So how can you use the UPS strategy to save gas? Here are a few tips:

"- Plan your route. Think about the best way to get around when running errands.

"- Make a list of what you need so you don't end up going to the hardware or grocery store five times in a day.

"- Avoid left turns. Waiting in traffic wastes gas.

"- Turn off your car. UPS has a no idling policy. If you are going to be sitting in your car for more than 30 seconds, turn it off. You'll save gas.

"Tampa Bay's 10 News

Now just think about the main point of that story. Only turn right if you want to save gas. Now this can be tricky at first. I find it more helpful to remember that if I want to save energy, I have to "think right", which is a condition that comes quite naturally to me.

¤ Home ¤ Congress ¤ Forum & Emporium ¤ Why Am I Running? ¤ Peak Oil ¤ But SerIously, Folks... ¤ Frary's Women ¤
¤ Frary Family Saga ¤ Issues and Bunk¤ Dumb & Dumberer ¤ Dollars to Doughnuts ¤ Libertarian Impulse ¤
¤ War and Fleece ¤ Mike Michaud Fan Page ¤ Two Faces of Sleaze ¤ HELP WANTED ¤