Saturday, April 30, 2005

Scratching My Head

Runs with Scissors commented on our posting of April 28 about Dubya kssing various parts of Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah's anatomy and converting military bases to oil refineries with the following:

And your solution would be?

Conservation comes to mind. No one really wants to conserve energy, we have too many uses for it. Leadership, as Harry Truman once said, is the ability to get people to do something they don't want to do, and have them think it was their idea. That's what's needed now, not a bunch of feel-good ideas about how we can fix problems that involve finite resources without giving up anything.

Sometimes I think people have to have these things read to them so they can dictate a response.


Marty said...

I would add, in addition to conservation, alternate energy research and development.

Sometimes I wonder if the Government were to throw 100 billion dollars at alternate energy research, in stead of the next war, how much could we do.

Runs with Scissors said...

Leadership and conservation: Some might consider that answer intellectually onanistic; however, let’s work with it.

Al Gore and John Kerry both suggested taxing fuel to raise the prices of gasoline to force consumers to conserve. Well then, you should be elated with the leadership of George W. Bush who has completed this politically unpopular task, not through taxation, but by letting market forces take their affect. But it is no fun to look at what is happening and agreeing with the effect; much as the Republicans did not with President Clinton. When he enacted reforms of Welfare, and several other issues proposed by Republicans, instead of saying, “good job, he agrees with us,” said “he’s just trying to look conservative.” It’s so much more fun to call people names and convince ourselves of our overlooked sagacity.

There is a theory popular with many economists that goes like this: When asked “when will we run out of fossil fuel?” “Ten years? Twenty years? Fifty years?” The answer is “never.” As petroleum becomes scarcer, the price will rise precipitously. Consumers, no longer willing to bear this burden, will demand products that use other sources of energy that do not require, or require very little, fossil fuel. If necessity is the mother of invention, cost is its drunken, abusive step-father. We have not yet reached the threshold of pain where the public demands these products.

I agree with you on one point; floating the idea of building refineries on closed military sites is an idea inchoate at best. Which closed facilities meet the economic requirements that make refining profitable? Which companies are going to make the capital investment to supply a dying resource?

Another point from the realm of epiphenomena. Suppose tomorrow a company announced it had devised a way to power engines using sea water? (Conspiracy theorist might claim this is already the case, the evil oil companies paying them off to keep it a secret. This would be like the Wright Brothers keeping their feats at Kittyhawk secret because they didn’t want to lose any bicycle sales.) What would happen to the economies of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Nigeria, Venezuela, Mexico, the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, and even the United States? If you think we have problems now in the Middle East and with Islam, just wait until millions more of them are unemployed as the local economies collapse. Remember Texas in the nineties?

In other missives you have mentioned your long commute. I am assuming this takes place on a bus or some other form of public transportation. Someone as socially conscious as you, I am sure, does not need the encouragement of a President they despise to take actions they know are just the right thing to do.

If this isn’t the case, then with regard to leadership and conservation, perhaps you should examine your own hypocrisy. If you are driving your own car to work every day, alone, then let me guess why. It takes too long to get there by public transportation. This makes the statement that your time is more valuable to you than conservation. Or that it costs too much to take public transportation. What price are you willing to pay for conservation as an element of your own social leadership? It is inconvenient to take public transportation. Isn’t that the case for most people?

You are right also when you say nobody really wants to conserve energy. You just happen to be one of those people. Within that context, your reply of leadership and conservations rings as “feel-good ideas about how we can fix problems that involve finite resources without giving up anything”.

Sometimes I think people have to have these things read to them so they can dictate a response.