Tuesday, May 01, 2007

prices are generally cheaper

* Larisa gets a little excited:
"Luke writes a Pulitzer article"
of course, much of the credit goes to Rich and the editing superstars at Raw. I'd name them individually - but I'm not sure what the protocol is. The names are here.

* SteveA makes a lot of good points in this comment, as usual, - and/but he includes this:
"So, if the neocon republicans are ousted then we could easily get the neocon democrats. Both seemingly are into supporting the strategy in the middle east, if not the particular wars in Iraq, or the tactics about the way they are fought. Both seem to want to put pressure on Iran if not attack them.

I figure both are wanting to do something about some coming oil shortage by going in and taking what they want."
a lot of smart people make similar statements, and i know of virutally nobody who agrees with me on this one - but i haven't ranted about it for ages, so i'll use this opportunity to tee off again... the problem that i have with this analysis is that it assumes, apparently, that the people making the decisions appear to give a damn about what happens to the US in the medium-term - yet i haven't seen the slightest evidence that this is the case. the argument appears to hinge on the apparent fact that oil is the key to get keep the economy (and western 'civilization') buzzing along - therefore, best we go and steal all of the ME's oil to keep it cheap for the next generation. That argument seems to me to have a bunch of fundamental flaws - for example: who is making money, today, outta this? The idea that 'war today is good so that prices are generally cheaper in America in 30 years time' seems ridiculous to me. Bill Maher was saying just yesterday that fully 25% of Americans (presumably the BushBase) expect Jeebus to come and vacuum them up to heaven THIS YEAR. There's not much incentive for medium-term planning...


profmarcus said...

i don't buy it either, luke, but my views are, admittedly, fringe... i think the motives of those calling the shots behind the scenes are extremely dark and have nothing to do with advancing the common good, short, medium, or long-term... these folks are driven by two things and two things only - power and money - and the money is the means to getting the power...

in order to better accomplish those twin ends, certain things have to be put in place... one is a climate of fear... two is on-going chaos, violence, death and destruction, be it domestically or globally, but preferably both... three is social control... four is the elimination of any implied or explicit social contract between a government and its citizens... five is an unshakable faith in social darwinism... the great masses of ordinary people count for nothing in their calculations unless they're to be used as a means to an end...

i don't have to fill in for you all the ways those elements are being fulfilled in today's world, and it's certainly not just the power structure of united states that's in on the game... if the global power structure had any interest whatsoever in achieving and maintaining any level of common good, life on this planet would be dramatically different than it is today... i only hope i live long enough to see a decisive move in that direction...

calipendence said...

Anyone who believes that "prices are generally cheaper" now than they were in some years past have been swallowing the inflation denial of this administration too much. I think most people will realize that housing costs, health care costs, and expenses like that which make up a majority of most average people's expenditures have gone up much more than their salaries have over the last decade or so.

You know one thing I've found interesting in watching recent proceedings on Global Warming in congress on CSPAN and in other arenas, that when Republicans finally start getting pushed into acknowledging that carbon-based energy is a problem moving forward, at that point from their point of view we should be focused on doing nuclear energy as THE replacement for it. Thom Hartmann and a few other perceptive folks note that this shift is all about trying to continue to keep control of energy centralized instead of decentralized (which solar, wind, and others are), so that these oil magnates they serve have another place they can shift to to maintain their control over society's essential goods, so that they can continue to milk us dry!

steven andresen said...

Thank you Luke for holding up some of the things I've said for better scrutiny.

You commented,

"...the problem that i have with this analysis is that it assumes, apparently, that the people making the decisions appear to give a damn about what happens to the US in the medium-term - yet i haven't seen the slightest evidence that this is the case."

Although it may seem that I think Bush and the neocons loot and murder for our general welfare, I really don't think so.When I say that the neocons, whether reps or dems, plan to go into the middle east to steal the oil, I am not also supposing they are doing it because they care that the general population needs it for transportation, the running of our health care system, or to produce food. All of that may be true. But, they loot and murder so that they can keep control over it and so, obtain the profits from selling it to us, et al.

I am of many minds about the motivations behind the wars we have goin on in Afghanistan and Iraq. I am sympathetic to the analysis the prof. gave above. I think the powers that be think that chaos will facilitate their control of the world.

I spent some time arguing that Bush and his christian supporters are interested in invading and making a mess of Islamic countries because they think that this cleans up the place expecting the second coming of Jesus. I have to wonder why they are so unconcerned about the mess and carnage they have created, the bankruptcy of the country, the wastefullness of the environment, the animosity they've created amongst our friends and the enemies they've created. Well, I thought, maybe there's some large faction of the powers who believe that they'll be sucked right up into heaven soon and won't have to worry about the mess they've left behind.

So, in many ways I agree with you that the powers do not act out of concern for the rest of us.

My original point, however, was that Greenwald needs to do more than just point out that the republican neocons are seemingly being exoposed for the political monsters they are. I wanted to suggest that the democrats can also take on the same project as the republicans by only changing the names of the managers and planners. It is possible that the big change for the better that Greenwald hopes for will turn out to be a merely superficial cosmetic change.

This is what I wanted to warn us about.

I guess I wanted to say something more about what needs to be done in addition to exposing the problems one party has. I wanted to argue that the motivation to go in to secure the scarce resources is a motivation that could easily be common to democrats as well as republicans. I am also not supposing that either party secures resources by looting them and killing objectors for the benefit of Americans. That would be absurd.

Mizgîn said...

Bijî Luke!

theBhc said...

Luke et al,

Great article!

As further comment about our neocon friends and their plans for "benevolent global hegemony," the important thing to remember is that there is nothing benevolent about them. They may not believe this but that is immaterial to the results of their fantastical foreign policy prescriptions. And, besides, it is obvious that they don't care what carnage they wreck on the world either. Benevolent or not, it doesn't matter. Because they mean well. Of course, this is a lie, too.

Cheap oil and easy super-profits are only side benefits to the real agenda of controlling petroleum reserves against other competing super powers, especially ones that are on the rise, like China and Russia (see Pipelines and Imperial Missions). Furthermore, cheap oil is not even a goal. Access to extremely cheap sources of oil are crucial, but expensive oil on world markets only serves the profit and power making potential. Of note recently was a statement Bush made that he said Iraq should start producing 5 million bbls/day. Oil execs scoffed; whoa, Georgie! you don't know what the hell you're talking about. There is no way 5 million bbls/day is going to come out of Iraq.

Big Oil responded this way not because it was technically infeasible but because they don't want the price of oil dropping. OPEC recently shared this sentiment. When oil started to drop toward $50/bbl, OPEC immediately began to talk of production cut-backs. Oil interests are now too comfortable with expensive oil. Profits are huge because most production costs are fixed at less than $20/bbl. Oil coming out of Iraq costs $1-$1.5/bbl to produce. Cheap production costs are wanted, not cheap market prices.

Of course, control of major oil deposits is crucial on two fronts, economic and military. From these stem the power for further control. No modern military can function without lots of oil. And right now, the US military is about the only foreign policy tool left to any White House administration. That and access to the huge American consumer market. But control of the oil would completely derail the current world-wide trend of moving away from US Dollar trading, which is right now the biggest threat facing the American economy. It's shaky, everyone knows it's shaky and everyone has started to move away from dollar denominated debt, include the Chinese, the Russians, the EU and OPEC. Seizing the oil and reasserting dollar hegemony is at least as crucial as the oil itself.

And none of this will happen by installing "freedom and democracy" anywhere.

«—U®Anu§—» said...

Good ju ju.

lukery said...

SteveA - apologies if I misrepresented your observation - I was basically just picking up a minor point of yours to reiterate one of my fave issues that i like to bring up every now and again... in this case, i only gave a brief, and not very well -articulated version of my 'argument'.

My main bugbear is that if people say 'the war was for oil,' they need to drill down into the details a little bit further. Who wants the oil? And why?

To be clear, i'm not saying that the war isnt for oil - I'm just suggesting that we need to understand what that means, exactly.

lukery said...

prof - yep, exactly. i usually prefer to flip this statement, tho: "money is the means to getting the power"

theBHC - always good to see you - thanks for the shoutout. "there is nothing benevolent about them" - yep, my point exactly - and i prefer the starting point that they, in their deeper, darker selves, don't even have benevolent intentions. The relentless GlobalWarming denial is a case in point.

I do have issues with this: "the real agenda of controlling petroleum reserves against other competing super powers"
... and i guess this is the main point of my post - implicit in this statement is the notion that these horrible people do care about the relative strength of America in 50-100 years (as well as a bunch of other implied assumptions, such as the fact that there won't be a global oil market)

«—U®Anu§—» said...

"...these horrible people do care about the relative strength of America in 50-100 years..." I've thought about that a long time myself, and surely neoconmen want you to believe it. But I don't believe it, the premise isn't valid. I decided it's more true that neocons are like ambulance chasing "accident lawyers," exploiting the misfortune(s) of others and doing all they can to cause those misfortunes without much thought about how to exploit them later. They have no idea at all what it will mean to be a strong nation 100 years from now. How meaningful would it be to a nation's strength a century hence to control the world's oil now, when a century from now the oil era is a faded memory? Neocons don't care. The only thing on their mind is how to exploit today's opportunities today, and hope hording wealth will matter when the oil is gone. Screw the future, those people are on their own.