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Update [2006-4-25 12:39:43 by mateosf]: Bush took action today that is consistent with what my diary says the GOP response to "gasoline price gouging" will be. SusanG diaries about it here.] Oil runs through the spiritual veins of every warm-blooded, true American patriot, it is our national birthright, it is our children's future, our greatest strength, our economic lynchpin, our one true cause ...

Or, oil is the scourge of humanity, it is the cause of a grossly disproportionate amount of human and environmental suffering, it turns formerly honest men (or, in some cases, demons born of human flesh - you reading, Cheney?) into vile, despicable pieces of homonid garbage and quickens our decent into purgatory with each acrid, mucosal drop.

Whichever religion you chose - and I admit I keel heavily toward the latter - there is one fact that there should be little disagreement over, and that couldn't be more important to Kossacks, to the Democratic party, and, indeed, to the future of our collective human enterprise:

More below ...

The planet earth (you're riding it through space at this very moment!) is struggling to meet our demand for oil. Screaming about the pain of high gasoline prices will not magically make God insert more oil into the ground. Get used to it, get into rehab, go see your therapist, get a hybrid or a biodiesel car or, better still, a bicycle - but, whatever you do, get over it.

The era of cheap oil and gasoline is dead. There is no "gasoline price gouging" in the United States, or anywhere.

For all of the bloviating by front pagers and other various and sundry Kossacks about "gas price gouging", you'd think there was a regular old populist revolution gettin' revved up around here. We're gonna line up our Subarus and Golfs and Hyundais and, yes, our Priuses, and all go drive down and storm the local Chevron or Conoco or Stinker or whatever and nationalize our rightful share of Houston's deadly cocktail.

Message to all of you: put down the car keys and step away from the ignition. This is going to hurt.

A Beer Analogy
To start simply: American oil companies have about as much to do with the price of oil as Preznit Bubblehead has to do with spreading democracy. It's very simple, really: while America uses 25 percent of the world's oil, we control just 3 percent of global supply. While American oil companies may develop oil fields all over the world, they mostly only actually OWN the oil they've leased from the U.S. government (at rock-bottom prices, I might add).

For those of you who studied party economics in college, an analogy: if you have 12 beers, and your friend has only one, and then your friend drinks his beer, how much are your 12 beers worth?

The answer: whatever your friend is willing to pay for them.

America has drunk its beer. In fact, America drank its beer way back in the 1970's - that's when domestic oil production peaked, and has been in gradual decline ever since. So all those domestic oil fields that Big Oil gets for cheap from Uncle Sam don't add up to much anymore.

And, for the most part ever since the U.S. peak, OPEC  (that would be the Organization of Countries America Has Invaded, Would Like to Invade, or Won't Get Around to Invading On Account of They Own Our Asses) has set the price of oil.

In the old days, if OPEC wanted oil to be cheap to, say, weaken the Soviet Union in the late 1980's ... oila! Oil drops to below $10 a barrel, and the oil-export-dependent Soviet economy collapses. If OPEC gets pissed about American policy toward Palestine, or Venezuela has a revolution, or a Nigerian dictator farts, or Dubai needs to build a new half-million-square-foot, indoor, artificial ski slope for the kids to play in, oil prices climb.

BUT ... the days of two-way (i.e. up & down) OPEC price control are quickly coming to an end. (Please go read Jerome's countdowns for all the cool charts, fun facts and fancy numbers and stuff). OPEC can't make the price of oil come down anymore. Sorry about that, but it's true.

My Parent's House
So how does this relate to Exxon or Chevron or Texaco, your pain at the pump, and why there's no gas price gouging?

An explanation, by way of another analogy:

My parents bought their house in Washington, DC's Cleveland Park neighborhood in 1972 for about $40,000. Back then, the city was sort of a mess, and the neighborhood - while it had some tony areas - was mostly inhabited by middle-class government civil-service types, small-time lawyers, artists, school teachers etc.

Skip to 2006. DC has undergone a major real-estate boom. That medium-sized house in Cleveland Park is now worth well over a million.

What did my parents do to earn this windfall? Not much. My mom still complains about the hideous, browning (but original!) 1960's linoleum in the kitchen. The bathrooms are falling apart. The yard is smallish but nice, and they finished the concrete-walled basement when I hit high school so we could go nuts without driving them nuts.

But, with the exception of a few new coats of paint, a heat pump and a walk-in closet, they haven't really done enough work to justify a 3000-5000 percent appreciation of their home. That house is worth what it is worth because so many people want to live in Cleveland Park, but so few people are selling homes there.

The same is true for American oil companies: the vast majority of the oil they're selling now - the oil that's generating these windfall profits - they originally developed years and years ago, as a result of very risky investments in drilling they made when the price of oil was very low.

There was a great post in an old diary I did that provides a window into just how risky these investments really are (credit to leevank):

From hearing all the complaints about "price gouging," you'd think that being a major oil company would be a great business to be in.  

But if that were the case, you'd expect their stock prices to act like they were in a great business by, for example, having higher price-to-earnings ratios than the average large company.  But in fact, that's not the case.

Here are some ratios for the major integrated oil and gas industry vs. the S+P 500, both currently and for the last 5 years:

 Trailing 12 months
 P/E ratio: Indust: 11.10  S+P: 20.07
 Gross margin: Indust: 26.5  S+P: 45.75
 Operating margin: Indust: 13.73  S+P: 20.68
 Net profit margin: Indust: 8.22  S+P: 13.71

 Last 5 years
 P/E ratio(High): Indust: 27.28  S+P: 38.41
 P/E ratio(Low): Indust: 13.03  S+P: 15.40
 Gross margin: Indust: 28.18  S+P: 45.03
 Operating margin: Indust: 10.89  S+P: 18.01
 Net profit margin: Indust: 6.42  S+P: 11.12

The bottom line is that the stocks of these companies are priced in a manner that indicates investors don't think they have a great future, and their profit margins indicate that they're having to spend a lot of money (more than the typical large corporation) in order to generate their profits.

There has indeed been something of a windfall over the past quarter or two, but that's almost always the case in a commodity industry when prices for the raw material rise.  The reason is that in a normal market, companies will price whatever they're selling based on its replacement cost, which in a rising market is going to be more than its historical cost.  But this kind of windfall effect tends to be temporary, and it's simply undeniable that increased prices DO tend to drive down demand, at least temporarily, which is probably the only thing that kept us from having long gas lines and severe shortages in the aftermath of Katrina.

Like my parents' home in DC, Big American Oil hasn't done much to improve the quality of the oil they're pumping from the last big fields in the Gulf of Mexico or California or Texas or Montana. Sure, they've been drilling like crazy in the Rockies, and would like to drill even more - and that's what Congress will call for.

But what was worth $8 a barrel when they drilled in the 80's is now worth $70 a barrel - because, as leevank astutely points out, that's how much it costs now to get a new barrel of oil out of the ground. The easy oil is gone. The cheap stuff is all burnt up. We're all trying to move to Cleveland Park, but there ain't no homes to be had.

Put another way: I don't hear any home-owning Kossacks complain about price gouging in the real estate market.

Why "Let's Make More" Won't Work Anymore
So basically, gasoline prices are high because Americans want - nay, believe we deserve - more of it than the market can deliver.

But if we buy into the lie that there is "price gouging," we could very well destroy any hope we have for a progressive energy policy.

This is essentially an issue that boils down to the core failure of our nation's energy policy, and the framing traps that Democrats - and, disappointingly, Kossacks - so easily fall in to.

First, American energy policy is lopsidedly supply-sided - that is, when we want more energy, our first thought is, "Let's just make more!"

Of course, we all know how "making more" translates on the ground: making more = taking it from someone else = endless wars in the middle east and threats of Venezuelan excursions; making more = gross human rights violations in Nigeria, Ecuador, Saudi Arabia, etc.; making more = threats to drill in wilderness like the Arctic Refuge and the Rocky Mountains for marginal supplies that will do nothing to lower prices, but will trash some mighty nice places on the way; making more = bulldozing everything we hold dear to make way for drill bits, roughnecks, and - yes - record profits for Big Oil.

By accusing Big Oil of price gouging, we are essentially denying the root cause of high prices: Americans want more oil than the world is capable of producing, or is capable of selling us at a lower price. At the same time, a couple of other countries are thinking, hmmm, we wouldn't mind some of that oil ourselves. It's only a matter of a few years before China is using more oil than we do.

In short, we are sucking on a straw that is drawing from a dry well, and we have the audacity to accuse the dry well of ripping us off?

I hope I don't have to explain why this is patently absurd.

But when we accuse Big Oil of "price gouging," we fall into a fatal trap: Big Oil and their GOP puppets have a ready response. "Yes, prices are very high, and we regret that. But they're only high because ... (drumroll) ...

ACCESS ... ACCESS ... ACCESS!!! (look for this line at a Congressional hearing nearest you)

This is Big Oil's GOP talking point for price gouging: If we would only let them drill in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge and the Florida Coast and under the fucking Lincoln Memorial and National Cathedral and at the top of Mt. Whitney and in the middle of the upper Missouri River and Yellowstone National Park and Otero Mesa and the Great Lakes and and and and ... prices wouldn't be so damn high. Which is, of course, a lie - remember, American oil firms are price takers, not makers - and we all know that's something Republicans and Exxon are both good at. Lying, that is. And taking.

I'm assuming that's not the solution Kossacks are looking for, and I hope that Democrats recognize that progressives do NOT want more drilling to be the default position to solve our national energy idiocy.

In fact, high prices tell us something about our behavior that no other signal can tell us: that is, we need to change our behavior. We need to change the fuels we use. We need to use more public transportation, and ride our bikes, and walk more. We need to car pool. We need to get Detroit of its lazy ass and pass laws that force them to make cars that get 100 miles per gallon (technology which, BTW, exists TODAY).

We need to bring on the biodiesel/plug-in-hybrid/wind/solar/geothermal/hydrogen/whatever-the-fuck-it-is-that-doesn't-involve -burning-rocks-or-other-former-carbon-based-life-forms- energy economy, and we need it YESTERDAY.

But if we keep falling into this trap that high energy prices are somehow due to greedy oil companies  - and, make no mistake, they may be greedy fucktards, but they're not to blame for high prices - we will NEVER be able to advance these kinds of solutions. The reason: accusations of price gouging reinforces the frame that the problem is high prices, when the problem is back-asswards irresponsible energy policies.

If we allow this to happen - if we fall into the price gouging trap - we let Democrats off the hook for giving us a real, progressive, 21st-century energy policy that helps us kick the oil habit once and for all.

So ... Dear Georgia10 and all the angry Kossacks and Democrats who think the price of gasoline is set in dark, smoke-filled conference rooms in Houston, please redirect your anger away from the ghost of price gouging and toward the reality of the end of the oil era.

It is only through propagating this truth that we can avoid falling into Big Oil's trap, and begin to point the way to a real solution to our deadly addiction to oil.

That is all. Thanks. Flame away, I guess.

Originally posted to mateosf on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 08:58 AM PDT.

Poll

What I'm doing to solve the oil crisis:

24%248 votes
6%64 votes
16%170 votes
13%139 votes
21%224 votes
6%64 votes
1%11 votes
10%107 votes

| 1027 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Great Diary (32+ / 0-)

    Recommended... You are right... This Myth is refocusing the problem on ANWAR, which is the way to go about fixing it, if we were a member of a secret cult suicide pack...

    The Bush Years have been An Inconvenient Truth. I want Change. 22 to Open the Doors of Congress

    by kubla000 on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 08:59:12 AM PDT

    •  Fantastic diary ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chingchongchinaman, mateosf

      That I hope makes it (and stays) on recommended list.

      Time to mention on DarkSyde's front pager ...

      9/11/05, Day 1469, A count worth keeping? Or, Osama Bin Forgotten?

      by besieged by bush on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 09:02:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Gas prices v. oil prices (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elveta, snakelass, eve, hoodoo meat bucket

        Gee, that sounds great.  But it assumes that gas prices are merely a reflection of oil prices, and it ignores oil corporations acting like middlemen and taking too large a cut for their services.

        I'm not an economist, not even close, so I'd like someone to address this part of the picture.

        We're all in this together.

        by JTML on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:18:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

          •  And oil futures (0+ / 0-)

            traders have a notable influence on the market value, which in turn reflects the mirror demostrated in RyoCokey's link. The oil companies have never controlled the prices as much as people have been led to believe.

            •  Thank you mateosf (0+ / 0-)

              For the excellent diary (I've been trying to find time to write something similar, if a bit less eloquent), and also for including my favorite fuel from UFOs (that's "used fryer oils") in your poll!

              Idea:No Blood for Oil. Action:I use Biodiesel. site blog

              by KumarP on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:33:44 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  No gouging? (8+ / 0-)

                It's all supply and demand?

                I seem to remember that's what they said during the California Energy Crisis of 2001, when electricity prices skyrocketed and energy company profits soared.

                Back then, the energy companies claimed supplies were low, there weren't enough power generating stations, environmental regulations slowed them down, blah blah blah.....

                Yet we soon discovered there was plenty of power, and all those reasons were bogus.  Companies like Enron simply gamed the market, creating false shortages, so they could fleece California for billions.

                I don't trust these oil companies at all.  I know we are reaching peak oil, but when Exxon is making record profits and refineries are closing for "maintenance" at an unusually high rate, I have to be suspicious.

                •  Yes, & be wary of statistics (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  drsmith131

                  For instance, take mateosf's citing of the various industry ratios and comparing them to those of the S&P 500. (And the diary is excellently written and thought-provoking, even if I disagree with much of it.)

                  Consider the statistic that's always cited in this controvery: net profit. The stats in the diary say that oil and gas had a 8.22% profit margin over the past 5 years, while the tony stocks in the S&P 500 had a 13.71% profit margin -- that's 60% more profit! Whee!

                  But, wait a sec. Let's look at the S&P 500. The 500 means that the profit margin stat is measured over a total of 500 companies. The "major" oil and gas industries are measured by what? 5, 6, 8, 10, even a dozen or so companies. Hell, why not even 25. The stats don't measure up, because you are really measuring apples and oranges.

                  The S&P 500 is a group of companies meant to produce on average a nice profit percentage... but this average means that some companies do very well in order to offset those companies that do poorly. But -- and here's the main point, statistic buffs -- you could have a bunch of companies that do only so-so, and it would be balanced off by one or a few companies that had a behemoth profit margin.

                  In statistics, this concept is called variance. It means that the average can sometimes actually hide more information than it gives. A few examples, though some may feel I'm belaboring.

                  Group A -- 1 + 1 + 1000 = 1002 [Avg. = 334]
                  Group B -- 200 + 150 + 250 + 200 + 220 = 1020  [Avg. = 204]

                  Can we really compare the averages of Group A and Group B and say we are really comparing two examples of the same thing. By the principles of inferential statistics, we cannot. But I think that also basic logic and common sense shows that, say, Group A and Group B are looking at different phenomena.

                  Also, note that the statistic compared in the diary are only for the past 5 years. It is not unusual to see a very different picture of stock trends over 10 and longer year intervals, or even over 2 year intervals. Just try checking some stock stats available on any basic web portal.

                  Bottom line: don't look for any stats, but one, to convince you. And that stat is gross profits: just how much moola, folks. -- Yes, there is a very serious environmental/resources/societal problem about energy/oil. But the owners of the energy companies are using this crisis to completely bilk the consumer and enrich themselves to the tune of billions of dollars, while compromising a rational approach to an energy and environmental policy -- oh and just possibly helping start a world war over oil resources.

                  I am for the expropriation of the oil companies. They have taken enough wealth out of us and the land. We don't need to pay them anything, but take back what is really ours anyway.
                  I know most won't support this, but it is fair.

                  However, the next best thing would be a nationalization, which does reimburse the oil companies for what they are supposedly worth. I will hold off on more and consider for a possible diary.

                  "... the laborers still form an incoherent mass scattered over the whole country, and broken up by their mutual competition."

                  by Valtin on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:05:26 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  A $400 million bonus is a symptom... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Valtin

                    ... of unreal profit margins.

                    My big beef is that Bush has done NOTHING to prevent this. And I am not talking about price controls or any of that. But we all knew going to war in the Middle East ON TOP OF huge new consumption in China and India was going to drive the cost of oil through the roof.

                    Where was the back-up plan?

                    The reason (one of many) I am pissed at Bush is his neglict at coming up with a Plan B.

                    Is that so difficult?

                    It seems so since we had no Plan B for Iraq, Katrina and on and on.

            •  How much? (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              lrhoke, NBBooks, happy camper

              How much are the futures traders driving these oil prices? You get a bunch of fat cats with large lines of credit buying 100,000 barrel blocks on margin that they never plan on having delivered.....that would certainly skew the "demand". Or am I just way off here......

              LEARN TO MASS SCREAM!!!!!!!!

              by Diggla on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 02:03:05 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I couldn't tell you there. (0+ / 0-)

                My knowledge of energy trading is pretty murky.  It's pretty much entirely divorced from the actual production and refining of the oil.

                However, it might not all be day traders or the equivalent... many companies stand to lose a lot of money if they can't secure oil to produce their products or supply their customers.

                •  Thats why they use the futures market... (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  wader, democracyinalbany, NBBooks

                  ...to hedge against potential losses. And the people playing this game wouldn't really be "Day Traders" or their equivilant...hahaha yeah its not the guy on the Ameritrade commercial with everything bowing to him. Im pretty sure the minimum order on oil is 100,000 barrels.....and at the prices they are going at per barrel you need to be a serious player or have some serious credit to get in. And when you buy futures, you are actually making an order. Like if you dont unload that order by a certain date you WILL be delivered 100,000 barrels (or whatever your order was) of oil. But this game gets played in almost every instance with no intention of the product being delivered, but rather to play the "It went up $2 a barrel, sell at a profit" game. (or whatever...depending if you bought it long or short or are cutting your losses) Basically, you have a bunch of high powered gamblers making REAL orders of oil that just have to be factored into what is passed off as "demand". It isnt like the actual supply issues have made the price of Oil jump so far so fast.....only crazy investors can move markets like that. Id be interested in seeing some kind of data or chart showing the futures transactions and barrels actually making it to refineries.

                  LEARN TO MASS SCREAM!!!!!!!!

                  by Diggla on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 04:17:48 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Well... (0+ / 0-)

                ...the oil futures prices dropped today after Bush started talking about "price gouging."

          •  Thanks for the link ... (0+ / 0-)

            Useful resource for getting data re gas prices ... and their relationship over time to oil prices ...

            Not "an exact mirror", but they certainly have tracked reasonably closely ...

            9/11/05, Day 1469, A count worth keeping? Or, Osama Bin Forgotten?

            by besieged by bush on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:36:07 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  here's someone who agrees with you (6+ / 0-)

          fascinating interview on Democracy Now with:
          "Antonia Juhasz about her new book, "The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time." The book tracks the radical neo-liberal economic program the Bush administration has tried to impose on Iraq, which threatens to leave Iraq's economy and oil reserves largely in the hands of multinational corporations. [includes rush transcript]"
          If you have time to listen to the whole thing, toward the end she discusses the pricing range at the pump that the oil companies DO control and how they are using the current environmnet to their advantage.

          http://www.democracynow.org/...

        •  um, deliberately low refinery capacity... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          grndrush, Cedwyn, skids, happy camper

          which, as an environmentalist doesn't bother me much, but, just sayin'

          "It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."

          by hoodoo meat bucket on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:10:15 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Gas & Oil Gouging (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JTML, happy camper

          Yes, there is an oil market and a gas market.  Both markets do not reflect basic maket forces of supply and demand.

          The Oil Market: The price of oil is controlled by a cartel (OPEC) which sets the price according to reasons which are not market based.  When the price of oil gets too hgh, they will lower the price.  They must lower the price b/c if they didn't we would switch to alternative energy sources.   The OPEC countries are simply milking us for as much as they can, for as long as they can.

          The Gas Market:  The price of gas is controlled by the petroleum refining companies who influence the price of gas by limiting supply.  These companies actually make more profit the less they produce.  This is why there has not been a major refinery opened in the US for over 30 years.   The American Petroleum Institute has been very effective at limiting the number of domestic refineries.

          So, the price of gas is essentially a scam and we've been getting gouged for years.

          •  OPEC can't lower it anymore (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            libertarian soldier

            If they could, they would.  Prices at this level are spurring interest in alternative energy and other more exotic oil fields (oil sands).  There's a reason they haven't lowered the price, that's because for all their bluster, they are already running flat out.  There is no spare production.  

            We can't blame OPEC for the current high prices, we have to blame ourselves for not learning to control our consumption.  

            In Britain they admit to having royalty. In the United States we pretend we don't have any, and then we elect them president.

            by Asak on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:21:22 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Found This... Exxon By The Numbers (6+ / 0-)

      relevant numbers from ExxonMobil's annual 10-K filing.  Someone please illustrate the proof of price gouging or the exess of the departing Chairman's retirement package.

      SALES ($billions
      2005 $358.955
      2004  291.252
      2003  237.054
      Print This Story
      Apr 25th, 2006: 10:29:11
      NET INCOME AFTER TAXES ($billions)
      2005 - $ 36.130
      2004 -   27.263
      2003 -   23.855

      EXCISE, INCOME & OTHER TAXES ($billions)
      2005 - $ 98.615
      2004 -   86.779
      2003 -   74.968

      NET INCOME AS A PERCENTAGE OF SALES
      2005 - 10.065%
      2004 -  9.361%
      2003 - 10.063%

      TAXES AS A PERCENTAGE OF SALES
      2005 - 27.473%
      2004 - 29.795%
      2003 - 31.625%

      INCOME TAXES EFFECTIVE RATE

      2005 - 41.4%

      2004 - 40.3%  

      2003 - 36.4%

      The Bush Years have been An Inconvenient Truth. I want Change. 22 to Open the Doors of Congress

      by kubla000 on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:29:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'll bite (14+ / 0-)

        First you must take into account that the worlds oil producers are producing more oil then at any time in history. At the same time oil is being traded at record highs. If you believe in the pure free market of supply and demand capitalism how do you meld that discrepency?

        Second if XYZ Corporation sells widgets for $1 at a profit of 5% they make a nickel per unit. If XYZ Corporation can sell the exact same widget for $4, even if that means higher operating costs, at the exact same profit margin of 5% netting 20 cents per unit what do you think XYZ Corp. would prefer to do?

        Statistics, as you float out, do not lie, but they certainly do not tell the entire story either.

        BIG oil has been manipulating the market for years in a number of ways that does not show up on some bean-counters spreadsheet.

        1. Inflated speculative investment in oil futures - setting up the strawmen of China/India and regional instability investors, financed by BIG oil, have inflated the market price of oil that can then be used as a rational for higher gas prices even though most oil companies locked in their market price for oil years ago.
        1. Closing refiniries - over the last 20 years, and as any semblance of competition dissappeared with corporate mergers, BIG oil scaled back on refining capability. Not overnight but little by little, so as not to raise concerns from regulators, until every refinery in the U.S. was pretty much running at capacity. Any disruption to refining (Katrina) justifies an immediate price hike because there is no back-up.

        Having learned nothing from very recent history - Enron - we sit back as BIG oil puts us in another squeeze play - artificially inflating costs while at the same time limiting supply.

        We may not like the idea of $4 or $5 dollar gas but limit supply, and shut down a few neighborhood gas stations (as we're starting to see), and we'll be lining up around the block in our Land Rovers, Hummers and 40 MPG hybrids thanking God for a fill-up.

        I have no problem with the pure concept of free market supply and demand capitalism, I have a huge problem when that market is being manipulated by corporations in the insane cycle for profits at any cost.

        And, yes, I call that market manipulation price gouging.

        The diarist is quite right that we need to divest ourselves from the use of fossil fuels. The diarist is quite wrong, and naive in my opinion, to believe that BIG oil is not gouging the consumer and that we will somehow eliminate their stranglehold on energy in the future simply by ignoring their blatant greed and gouging of the public today.

        Quotes from others express a mental laziness in themselves.

        by rudgrl on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:01:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Some responses ... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Asak, stitchmd, cris0000, xjac

          worlds oil producers are producing more oil then at any time in history. At the same time oil is being traded at record highs. If you believe in the pure free market of supply and demand capitalism how do you meld that discrepency?

          But, the world is using more oil than at any time in history ... and demand has increased faster than increased ability to produce.

          Now, is 'big oil' cashing in -- hand over glove -- in this environment?  Absolutely!  How much of the price runup is 'legitimate' business practice (buy low, sell high) and how much is illegitmate (price / market manipulation)?  I don't know ... believe it is more the first than the second, but I am not expert ...

          9/11/05, Day 1469, A count worth keeping? Or, Osama Bin Forgotten?

          by besieged by bush on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:11:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  excellent point. (2+ / 0-)

            Big oil is producing more than it ever has, but total population (demand) has increased as well. It makes no sense to talk about production with out considering demand. ( total poplulation)

            •  Sure it does... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              libertarian soldier

              If you're a conspiracy theorist and basically know nothing about economics or how everything in the whole damn world works, then you can just talk about production and ignore everything else.  

              But, yeah, if you consider how production has not kept pace with demand, then the "record production" doesn't really mean a damn, does it?

              In Britain they admit to having royalty. In the United States we pretend we don't have any, and then we elect them president.

              by Asak on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:23:18 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  great comment (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mrd in nyc

          yer sig, not so much.  why insult easily half of the dkos population out of hand?

          weather forecast

          The palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise. - Paine

          by Cedwyn on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:39:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Agreed. (0+ / 0-)

          I don't even own a car (I walk, ride my bike, or occasionally take a cab as there are no buses in my town), so I don't buy gas.  But to say "it's all supply and demand" and ignore the obscene profits oil companies are making is either naive, or sinister.

          -Alan

          -9.00, -3.69 Bush, 12/12/05: "I think we are welcomed [in Iraq]. But it was not a peaceful welcome."

          by SlackerInc on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 02:39:07 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  good posting and responses... (7+ / 0-)

      ...ultimately the raising price in gasoline will happen anyway... price gouging is a red herring - the Oil companies could gouge at $5 per gallon and it still doesn't reflect the true cost of the oil - which is heavily subsidized through other taxes...

      ...gouging is just politician fodder...

      ...a real solution is to impose gas taxes fully so that the full cost of oil is reflected in the price of gasoline... and use the money saved to cut income taxes by a proportionate amount that ensures that Joe Public isn't left out of pocket (and to a lesser extent businesses)... a tax neutral solution... then people will probably choose to save extra money by cutting fuel consumption anyway... think about it - you got the money back in a tax credit/cut... now you can get MORE back by not spending as much on gas... "Free money from the government - woohoo!"

      •  One of the great ironies (2+ / 0-)

        is displayed here, because the best solution for the USA (25% of world usage) and the world, would be to do just as you say, with the boost in gas tax.

        And no US politician (unless a majority of the Senate found it had terminal cancer, and not even then) will vote for that.

        So, it all just gets used up, at the minimal market-clearing price...

        If a thousand men were not to pay their tax bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State...

        by HenryDavid on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 12:00:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Exactly (0+ / 0-)

          And most of the comments from people here indicate that the "solutions" they want are the absolute opposite of what we need to do.  A gas tax moratorium?  Do we want to raise consumption even more???

          Seriously, people, this is why our government is falling apart.  Sometimes you have to suffer a little bit of hardship.  We can't always make things better all the time and do what people find convenient.  It works for a little while, but then at some point it just turns into a mountain of shit when reality forces itself in.  

          In Britain they admit to having royalty. In the United States we pretend we don't have any, and then we elect them president.

          by Asak on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:26:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I don't get your line of thought... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mrd in nyc, happy camper

      The "myth" that gas prices are artificially inflated, if believed, is supposed to somehow lead people to the idea that we should turn over drilling rights to the people who are doing the gouging?

      That's pretty contorted.  In fact that's a downright disingenuous statement to make.

      Especially considering the Rove camp is trying to lay the blame not on the oilmen, but to say "yeah yeah gouging I totally agree we'll get right on that for sure, honestly... WHOA! LOOK over there those damn air quality laws and the wacko environmentalists driving up your gas prices!"

      As to the rest of this thread:

      This whole premise that the oil companies, the oil suppliers, and anyone at all who can get their hand under the faucet don't each and every one of them extract profits whenever they think they can get away with it is running very, very thin and was utterly naive to start out with.

      The balance sheets are unconvincing, the graphs of gas versus oil prices hardly look like a "mirror" to me, just a general overall correlation -- show me the "trickled down" effect of the oil company tax breaks on those, people, if you can -- and noone's talking about where the money paid for crude goes after it leaves Exxon's hands and whether that there is a gouge, nor why the oil companies don't seem to want to pay a decent price for crude pumped out of a U.S. well.

      Is it really too much to ask for people to understand that shortages (impending or actual), high demand from other countries, and price gouging at all levels are not mutually exclusive scenarios?  Or that BushCo is paying lip service while laying the groundwork for winning over America to just this oil-company-sympathetic agenda?

      Sheesh.

      OpenSource volunteers needed to bring election accountability: http://uscvprogs.sourceforge.net

      by skids on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 02:56:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The real issue is accomodating change (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      melo, Pam from Calif, JanL, NativeOak

      Making a course correction in Americas motoring habits is similar to the situation of the Exxon Valdez.

      The captains drunk again and the ship of state is headed for the rocks, but even with everything going right it takes a while to stop or make any kind of an abrupt turn around.

      Despite that Oil companies are international corporations they make most of their profits from sales in the US.

      Despite ARAMCO and OPEC have arab members they are dominated by US and British corporations.

      Guys from Texas working for ARAMCO, Bechtel, Halliburton, Contel, Skanska and King William develop the fields, drill the wells, build the pipelines and pump stations and set up the infrastructure and a few sheiks and their tribes and clans do very well.

      Oil Companies sold America that whats good for General Motors is good for the USA. They promoted the idea that Americans should see the USA in their Chevrolet and got Americans hooked on the drug of cheap oil.

      It certainly makes sense to repeal the corporate tax cuts, stop the subsidies and reduce the obscene profits even if just to calm peoples minds a little.

      Aside from that, having twenty billion dollars of found money that Democrayts can give back to lower income Americans in the form of a tax cut immediately after the elections isn't a bad idea.

      We might also consider oil a war material and ration it.

      In FDR's day we would have nationalized the oil companies, and used a handy tool like the Patriot Act to investigate the oil companies ties to  environmental terrorists.

      They sponsored research that supported global cooling.

      The phoney research that they thought would give them a little longer before they had to spend any money to cut their emmissions is a Weapon of Mass Destruction for the rest of us.

      We should take the Patriot Act and use its provisions to trace their money laundering back to their political contributions as an example of aiding and abeting the terrorists who still promote deregulation and drilling in Anwar.

      Live Free or Die (-8.88 -9.49) IMPEACH

      by rktect on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 03:41:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, and in Harry Truman's Day (0+ / 0-)

        he tried to nationalize the steel companies, and the SC said "No."

        •  Yes, but in FDR's day he had a solution (0+ / 0-)

          The Supreme Court consists of nine elderly citizens with a huge workload. If you listen to them they often tell you its hard, hard work. They say we can't look at some types of case because that would swamp us.

          The solution is to add more justices to help.

          After we win the 2006 elections and take back Congress and Impeach Bush and Cheney and bring the troops home we should have President Pelosi appoint two new young justices making the total number eleven. FDR suggested we needed 15, but two would be enough for now.

          Then when we begin to use the NSA warrantless wiretaping and Patriot Act to track down the ill gotten gains of big oil and Halliburton and seize their assets because they were used by these environmental terrorists to create the WMD we call global warming that has been used to destroy several major American cities such as New Orleans and Biloxi, we can expect the court to allow us to kidnap, torture, murder, rendition and hold at Gitmo without habeas all their major executives.

          After that I think we should recognize our addiction to gaoline and prosecute its pushers as drug dealers, maybe explore a war on economic exploitation and having seen what the Republicans consider a strong economy begin calling for and working toward a weak economy.

          Live Free or Die (-8.88 -9.49) IMPEACH

          by rktect on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 05:29:03 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Not sure I agree. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TheBlaz

      Crude oil is the most scarce commodity here, and as you pointed out, the big Ameican oil companies don't own that much of it directly.

      When crude goes from $65 to $75 a barrel, that's a 15% increase. Unless I'm mistaken, gas prices have gone up more than that, and what the oil companies pay for crude is only a part of the cost (perhaps less than half) of their refined product (like gasoline).

      I will agree with most thinking people (or Kossacks in general, which is mostly the same thing) that we can expect more of the same going forward, as oil is a limited resource which is only going to get more scarce (relative to demand) in the future- but if the oil companies were just "passing along" the increased cost of crude, why are they making obscene amounts of money at it? Why have their margins skyrocketed?

  •  Thanks/tips (169+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sharoney, ElitistJohn, wozzle, MRL, Alumbrados, Ed in Montana, sgere, Joe Bob, Alfred E Newman, SteveLCo, pb, LarryInNYC, Irfo, mbc, seaprog, Fran for Dean, jmelli, Detlef, pletzs, DaveS, surfbird007, RNinNC, EdinPHX, Sherri in TX, Lipstick Liberal, Sanjay, meg, crushinator, OLinda, rhubarb, etatauri, frisco, theran, Molly Pitcher, grndrush, bumblebums, Poika, Jerome a Paris, bostonjay, TGos, TexasDemocrat, silence, ralphie, awnm, fwiffo, Dizzy, thm, bronte17, KB, RandOR, TravnTexas, TracieLynn, Diggla, retrograde, Porfiry, otto, JJG Miami Shores, viget, michelle, taonow, peeder, House, Fe, Bearpaw, superba, bonobo, matt2525, Cedwyn, ginatx, imagine80, wader, bam101, psnyder, SlowToAnger, NYC Sophia, lucid, jlynne, Tracker, besieged by bush, Stampy51, Adr, texasmom, ohiolibrarian, Catte Nappe, snakelass, pexatus, grrr, lcrp, Liberaljentaps, deep6, kfred, Deward Hastings, Hardhat Democrat, kd texan, Hari Rothstein, bibble, cjohnson, Gowrie Gal, Tinfoil Hat, red clay dem, Doolittle Sothere, Alexander G Rubio, Tami B, jhancock, jrieth, el dorado gal, Sam I Am, lale, ejmw, Ari Mistral, Simplify, chingchongchinaman, stitchmd, HillaryIsMyHomegirl, mlsa70, Brooke In Seattle, skeptigal, cris0000, ocooper, Pam from Calif, McMeier, GreyHawk, Jawis, exmearden, helix, teachenglish, FindingMyVoice, xjac, Unduna, JanL, Land of Enchantment, melvin, RainyDay, makeitstop, Muwarr90, pico, Fasaha, Ky DEM, Ellicatt, smokeymonkey, dougymi, deha, Albatross, dennisl, abstractgecko, Lollipops, MJ via Chicago, StrayCat, thomaswilliam, hypersphere01, justalittlebitcrazy, BalkanID, vcwagner, Andy30tx, mikebailey2000, deathsinger, MacheteJames, cherryXXX69, MarketTrustee, Dreaming of Better Days, djalix976, guachi, bstotts, Buddha Hat, RickBoston, Prose Of Sharon, larrystrachan, kvenlander, Brownian Motion

    as I inflate the tires on my bike ...

    I am the federal government.

    by mateosf on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 09:07:32 AM PDT

    •  What did you bother? (5+ / 0-)

      The hot air that is going to come streaming your way would have done that for you...

      The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.

      by deathsinger on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 09:21:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  and what is so fundamentally different (0+ / 0-)

      between the year 2006 and the year 1996?

      gas is expensive now, it was cheap then.

      please explain.

      I believe in saving money. I believe in having a house. I believe in keeping things clean. I believe in exercising. www.walken2008.com

      by The Exalted on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:36:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  China. n/t (4+ / 0-)

        I am the federal government.

        by mateosf on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:44:18 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not to mention (0+ / 0-)

          the depleting oil fields for example in the North Sea.

        •  what about china? (0+ / 0-)

          I believe in saving money. I believe in having a house. I believe in keeping things clean. I believe in exercising. www.walken2008.com

          by The Exalted on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:54:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  They'll surpass us in oil demand in 2 years (2+ / 0-)

            I am the federal government.

            by mateosf on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:57:36 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  if that is true, you think that is news to anyone (0+ / 0-)

              rather than postulate that the chinese population growth and industrial expansion of the past decade was somehow unforseen, i would think there are other factors at play

              I believe in saving money. I believe in having a house. I believe in keeping things clean. I believe in exercising. www.walken2008.com

              by The Exalted on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:03:14 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I do not know if that is true (2+ / 0-)

                but the simple fact is that nobody has yet developed a method to turn water into oil. :)

                Look, going from memory here so the numbers won´t be exact.
                Daily crude oil production is somewhat like 80+ million barrels per day (mbd).
                Roughly 50+ mbd produced by non-OPEC countries and 30+ mbd produced by OPEC countries.
                Demand right now is roughly the same.
                OPEC itself admits that they have a "swing" (reserve) capacity of only 2 mbd left. And that´s probably mostly heavy sour oil which most refineries can´t utilize. And there´s not much reserve left outside OPEC especially with - for example - North Sea oil fields in decline.

                In the past, Saudi Arabia was the big swing producer, able to open the valves and keeping prices stable.
                With demand and supply almost equal, everything from unrest in Nigeria, speculation about an attack on Iran or higher demand from China will lead to higher crude oil prices.

                •  water will be even more of a precious resource (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  sandmancan, hypersphere01

                  within the next century, most likely. And there's no alternative.

                  So the equation that drives the alchemy might wind up being turning oil into water.

                  You CAN live without oil, in the end. Not without water.

                  •  Actually -- 'alternatives' exist (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Lollipops

                    if you have cheap /plentiful energy.

                    With massively deployed renewable energy at a 'cheap' price, there are resources to solve many other issues.  

                    Water -- recycling waste water; desalinization; etc ... give me enough power and noone goes thirsty ...

                    9/11/05, Day 1469, A count worth keeping? Or, Osama Bin Forgotten?

                    by besieged by bush on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:24:24 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  alternatives may exist, but again cost (0+ / 0-)

                      is a factor: desalinization is not cheap, nor is recycling.

                      And if rivers dry up because of melting of mountain ice caps, the situation will be even more extreme.

                      And there goes that power again.

                      "Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink..." and everything old is new again.

                  •  oh yes (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    stitchmd

                    we will have water wars.

                    weather forecast

                    The palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise. - Paine

                    by Cedwyn on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:41:43 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  We already have (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Plan9

                      Seriously, it's been happening for thousands of years.  

                      But why would this become any more serious now?  Population growth is going to level off and start to decline.  When we run out of water people just start dying off.  It's really that simple.  

                      China's population will begin to drop, joining the decline in every other industrialized nation.  I suspect the same will happen in India.  

                      For water, using nuclear power and desalination, we'll have all the power and water we need.  We're not just going to die off.  In comparison to oil, water is quite plentiful and easily produced (desalination).  

                      In Britain they admit to having royalty. In the United States we pretend we don't have any, and then we elect them president.

                      by Asak on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:35:04 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  yes indeed (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    stitchmd

                    back in 1999 when I worked for a company that did DOD projects. Some projects were corporate though as we did some geology work for shell, etc.; it was about 50/50 oil and water exploration.

                    "Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground?" -George Washington

                    by House on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 02:50:47 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  russia (0+ / 0-)

                as i've told you boys and girls, russia is one of two reasons for the run-up in oil prices.

                oil is the only source of massive and instant capital infusion it has available. without that capital influx since 2003 the country would have broken up further and then you'd see what a real civil war is.

                the russians have effectively blackmailed the entire world.

                the second reason is to maintain the hegemony of the u.s. petrodollar. which in turn insures the comfy lifestyle you americans love so much.

                be very careful about biting the hand that feeds you and your family.  

                •  what % of the world market does russia supply? (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  sandmancan, jarrrettg

                  for it to singehandedly cause a 700% increase in oil prices in 7 years?

                  I believe in saving money. I believe in having a house. I believe in keeping things clean. I believe in exercising. www.walken2008.com

                  by The Exalted on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:55:45 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  what (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    sandmancan, Lollipops

                    you need to know is that russia needs the revenue, badly. in 2000 russian president putin stated that if russia has 15 years of 7% gnp growth it will attain the economic status of portugal, the poorest country in western europe.

                    without the huge increase in oil prices, even that paltry status would be unattainable.

                    outside of moscow and st. petersburg, russia is regressing to the 19th century. go visit and see for yourself. i have, several times, and it ain't pretty.  

                    •  maybe we're all about to (0+ / 0-)

                      take a timetravel trip back there...

                      if we're lucky we'll keep the telecommunications

                      why? just kos..... *just cause*

                      by melo on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 09:28:45 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  Should have just stuck with communism (0+ / 0-)

                      Looks like changing over to an entirely different economic system is pretty disastrous.  Maybe this should be news to the people who think we can easily switch from capitalism to something else and not have our whole society basically fall apart.  

                      In Britain they admit to having royalty. In the United States we pretend we don't have any, and then we elect them president.

                      by Asak on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:37:32 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

            •  Probably not. (0+ / 0-)

              You're assuming demand is unaffected by supply, and will continue at the current rate regardless of cost.  They're in a much worse position to pay for higher energy costs than we are.

              •  yes, but their cars will get 75 MPG (0+ / 0-)

                I am the federal government.

                by mateosf on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 12:20:48 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  That does them little good... (0+ / 0-)

                  ...if they're stuck on insufficient highways and gnarled in traffic.  

                  Additionally, the Chinese are not exactly known for their mastery of automotive technology, unless you are accidentally conflating them with the Japanese...

              •  China's consumption is not for cars (0+ / 0-)

                Seriously, that's way off base.  That's not what they are using oil for.  And most likely they will follow a course similar to Europe and Japan, with public transportation heavily promoted.  No country developing now is going to follow the course of the U.S. don't delude yourself.  That said, even if they develope energy efficient forms of transportation and increase the energy efficiency of their factories, the combined consumption growth of developing countries will force the price of oil up, even as the production of oil declines.  

                In Britain they admit to having royalty. In the United States we pretend we don't have any, and then we elect them president.

                by Asak on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:45:31 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  if this is true (0+ / 0-)

          then we should hear of massive fuel shortages in china, and india too, as it's said time and again there is a lack of refining capacity.

          those countries are now importing more oil but how are they refining it if the refineries take 10 years to come on line?

          during an extensive 1987 visit to china it was quite obvious the chinese were looking and moving forward and that soon they would be actively competing worldwide for natural resourses.

          why weren't you americans preparing?

          or should i say why weren't you preparing in non-military ways?  

          you americans are once again being punk'd.

          •  It doesn't take 10 years (0+ / 0-)

            That is how long it takes here, supposedly due to environmental regulations and NIMBY issues.  You can get them online way faster, as long as you don't care about pollution and can put them anywhere they want, as China certainly can with no individual rights.  

            In Britain they admit to having royalty. In the United States we pretend we don't have any, and then we elect them president.

            by Asak on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:46:46 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Simple: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        libertarian soldier

        There was excess refining capacity in 1996. Then, if demand went up, refiners simply made more gasoline. Now, refineries are basically operating at maximum capacity.

        •  sorry, but i find this explanation to be bogus (0+ / 0-)

          gas skyrocketed over what, a one year period?

          how would refineries suddenly come to be in shortage?

          a refinery shortage would explain a gradual increase in price, as their capacity grew more and more strained and then overwhelmed

          not a dramatic and explosive upswing in prices

          I believe in saving money. I believe in having a house. I believe in keeping things clean. I believe in exercising. www.walken2008.com

          by The Exalted on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:54:05 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  the (5+ / 0-)

            the reason for the oil price is because of the FEAR that one or more of these refineries will be knocked off line. It is the fact that we have not build more refineries which makes them all so valuable. It is the mere reality that if a refinery or two is attacked, destroyed etc that the world would hit a oil crisis, which has created this oil crisis.

            Lack of refineries is at the heart of this speculative fear based "crisis".

            •  that doesn't make sense (0+ / 0-)

              I believe in saving money. I believe in having a house. I believe in keeping things clean. I believe in exercising. www.walken2008.com

              by The Exalted on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:01:31 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  you'd better stay out of the stock market, then (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                rjo, libertarian soldier, dennisl

                It works the same way, on speculation, fear, and greed. Logic need not apply.

                •  No (0+ / 0-)

                  The fear that a primary buyer will be "knocked out" lowers expected costs on a supplier. Oil in the input to a refinery. Gasoline is the output. If the US dropped offline, the cost of oil would decline, not rise.

                  •  We're just making stuff up? (5+ / 0-)

                    Look, this stuff is all traded on the futures market. You want to buy gasoline, you buy it for when you want it delivered. So if you need a tanker truck full of gas to be delivered a month from now, you have to offer enough in payment that the person selling it has confidence they are more likely than not to make some profit. So if they're afraid that downtime at a single refinery could restrict supply, so that they themselves would have to pay more for it, then they have to set their price to you accordingly. Of course, it's an open and competitive market, so if someone else sees less risk of that, and takes the chance, you may buy it cheaper from her.

                    This is on the gasoline end. On the raw oil end, there's a very reasonable fear that oil fields could be taken down by terrorist attacks, or a US move against Iran. So again the person selling you the oil for future delivery has to take into account that the oil might cost them more by the time the delivery is due.

                    Look, ExxonMobile should be nationalized, and then perhaps have its assets auctioned off to other, more responsible oil companies, just as penalty for their obfuscation of global warming. And they should be doing more than simply reward their investors with their current profits - BP has it right, investment in other energy sources is how to avoid being the next-generation buggy whip manufacturer. But they aren't gouging. The oil markets are fairly efficient at assessing risk and charging accordingly. The oil supply is at risk at the source, and the gasoline supply is at risk at the refineries.

                    •  BP ... (4+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      melo, rjo, stitchmd, unbound

                      Has influenced you with their ad campaign?

                      They are investing signficant amounts in non-petroleum energies but ... this is only a fraction of their investments in seeking additional oil and gas.

                      If they were investing twice as much in renewables as in hydrocarbons, well that would be a statement (and would capture them a huge share of the market space in coming decades) ... but that statement is not yet being made.

                      They have a great ad campaign ("Beyond Petroleum") but the reality of their actions doesn't fully match the public space.  For example, if serious, why not put solar panels on every single BP station in the country -- with propaganda for the drivers at the station as they fill up about global warming and/or Peak Oil and BP's leading role in creating a new, renewable energy future?

                      9/11/05, Day 1469, A count worth keeping? Or, Osama Bin Forgotten?

                      by besieged by bush on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:41:34 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Compared to XOM they are saints (0+ / 0-)

                        And let's be realistic, they're not going to turn into an alternative energy company overnight.  That is just absurd and would be a good way for them to go bankrupt as well.  

                        In Britain they admit to having royalty. In the United States we pretend we don't have any, and then we elect them president.

                        by Asak on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:49:21 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

          •  Katrina and Rita (0+ / 0-)

            caused a severe shortage of refinery capacity in this country.  We are now feeling the after shock of this during the spring-turnarounds.

            The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.

            by deathsinger on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:11:09 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Dramatic and explosive upswings (5+ / 0-)

            is when the supply curve hits a ceiling and people are no longer paying an incremental premium for that next gallon, but bidding against each other for the last gallon.

            The big, huge, GIGANTIC clue that this is exactly what is taking place is the shortages. The profit margin on gas has been pretty constant and fluctuated reasonable closely with the price of oil. That has been going up, but the demand for gas has been going up as well (people drive more when it gets warmer/more daylight), helping to drive oil up as refiners buy more of the supply. The shortages are the result of the temporary changeover from winter to summer fuel formulations.

            The speculators knew this was coming and starting buying into oil trying to turn a profit on the crunch. That drove up the prices as it put refiners in competition with speculators. That increased cost for oil gets passed on to us in the price of gas and you have the competition for what gas is available adding to it because of the crunch.

            This is the real problem when you have so little excess supply. A good speculator can go in and artificically remove that excess driving prices up for the entire supply pool as people compete to get what's left.

            This is a less obvious version of what Enron did to California, but they did exactly the same thing with electricity and we saw the results.

            -6.00, -7.03
            "I want my people to be the most intolerant people in the world." - Jerry Falwell

            by johnsonwax on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 12:39:54 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  It's called 'price elasticity' (4+ / 0-)

            Wikipedia article here.

            Imagine this: last year, refineries had (say) 100 foobars [an arbitrary measuring unit] of refining capacity, and demand was 99 foobars.  This year, demand is 101 foobars.  Naturally, prices rise.  Now, normally, as prices rise, this would cause demand to drop until it equalled the available supply.  

            But as many diaries have pointed out, gasoline is different, because it's a necessity for many people.  If they don't drive, they can't get to work.  Rather than reduce gas consumption, they cut back on eating out, or going to the movies, or paying for health care.  So, demand drops much more slowly than usual, and prices skyrocket.

            Eventually, demand will fall (as it did after the oil shocks of the '70s.)  But that takes time: time for people to trade in their cars, or arrange carpooling, or finally get used to the idea of public transportation, or move closer to work, or whatever they need to do to consume less gasoline.  Meanwhile, we're in for a bumpy ride.

            "I hear the voices" -- George Walker "Son Of Sam" Bush
            Darcy Burner for WA-08

            by FaithAndReason on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 12:55:43 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Refineries are being purposefully stifled (0+ / 0-)

          There is much better return on capital from not building a refinery than building one provided that the refinery capacity is largely owned by the oil companies or a single entity.

          Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk. - Thoreau

          by harrier on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 12:36:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  But ,,, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sam I Am, rjo

          If refineries were the roadblock, would not crude oil prices be falling in the face of surplus building up waiting to get into the refineries?

          9/11/05, Day 1469, A count worth keeping? Or, Osama Bin Forgotten?

          by besieged by bush on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:25:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I like this diary (18+ / 0-)

      I'm bummed all the comments went down the road of refineries vs. supply and demand. It seemed to me that the point of your diary was that we need to get over our overusage of oil and find a way to use less. We did it in the 70's, I remember. It used to be cool to be frugal, cool to ride a bike, cool to have a high mileage car. We need to get back there again.

      In mid-October I started taking light rail to work every day. Rather than driving 60 miles a day, now I drive 16 a day. That's 300 miles/week vs. 80 miles/week. It takes a little more time (sometimes) to get to work, but it's worth it. I love it, and I wouldn't go back to driving on the 50 corridor for anything.

      It makes me feel like I'm doing something good for the environment, even if my teenage daughter calls me a hippie.

      By the way, anyone seen Al Gore's movie trailer? Pretty scary stuff. We keep going like we're going and we won't have a planet.

      The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

      by Liberaljentaps on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:03:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Kids calling parents hippies (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rhubarb

        Is actually pretty ironic, doncha think?  Good for you liberaljentap.  Here's the trailer for An Inconvenient Truth if anyone wants to check it out.

        Nature never breaks her own laws. --da Vinci

        by lale on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 12:05:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Oh, how I wish (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MJ via Chicago

        I had that option, but about a decade ago, my county voted down expanding our area's fledgling light rail system because it would have meant a county tax increase. Nevermind that federal transit subsidies would have covered a huge chunk of the construction cost, folks couldn't imagine themselves getting out of their cars and didn't want to put any money towards it.

      •  Good for you ... (0+ / 0-)

        This is a wonderful change ... and I hope you are enjoying great naps, conversations, reading (or whatever) on the train rides.

        I am not quite there in terms of sensible choices.  My total commute is about your driving.  I could take the bus ... but it would likely cost me over an hour more each day and would make problems for picking up kids from day care ... similar problem for taking Metro with halving driving mileage (more time AND more expensive with parking/subway fares) ...

        Still wedded to my individual driver in car ... but moving to a hybrid ...  

        9/11/05, Day 1469, A count worth keeping? Or, Osama Bin Forgotten?

        by besieged by bush on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:45:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Too bad tax breaks aren't (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        stitchmd

        offered for those who ride public transportation or ride bike/walk.

        Let your conscience be your guide.

        by Jiminy Cricket on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:58:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Some places do (0+ / 0-)

          at least for public transportation. I believe that at least at one time we did in Baltimore, for people in a certain income level. It had to be administered through the employer. B/c I didn't use it, afraid I don't know details.

          But it is a good idea.

        •  Not necessarily tax breaks, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          libertarian soldier

          but in many metropolitan areas, there are programs that work with employers to encourage them to subsidize employees' use of public transportation. These are often funded with Congestion Management and Air Quality (CMAQ) funds, which are part of the federal transportation bill.

          If you want to find out whether there are programs like this in your area, call your local Metropolitan Planning Organzation (MPO) and ask them. There's a list of MPOs here: http://www.ampo.org/...

          If they don't have any such programs, ask them why not. If they're working on improving bike and pedestrian conditions, ask how you can get involved.

          You're full of beans, and so's your old man!

          by skeptigal on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 04:18:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes (0+ / 0-)

            at a former job, they offered metro bus passes to cut down on the costs of paying for part of the employee's monthly pass at the parking garage. Saves businesses money, too. And a lot of people took them up on it, to avoid the commute (bus lanes faster), save on gas money, be able to sit back and read a book instead of dealing with traffic. It was a win win situation.

            Let your conscience be your guide.

            by Jiminy Cricket on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 04:33:24 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I get a break (0+ / 0-)

          on my light rail pass by buying it at work. Instead of paying $89/month for parking, I now pay $35/month for a light rail pass. I can use it any time.

          The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

          by Liberaljentaps on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:26:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  look, this is the point (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lipstick Liberal

      oil costed $10/barrel in 1999, now it costs upwards of $70/barrel in 2006

      in 1999, there were worries about the stability of saudi arabia, the major US oil companies
      were teetering

      texas oilmen with saudi connections come into power in 2001

      presto, oil has shot through the roof

      discuss how the price of oil has gone from $10 to $70 in 7 years, and i dont think any "structural" argument is going to work

      http://www.economist.com/...

      I believe in saving money. I believe in having a house. I believe in keeping things clean. I believe in exercising. www.walken2008.com

      by The Exalted on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:47:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yargh (6+ / 0-)

        What's the point of explaining basic supply and demand, or how the markets price in risk? Do you understand that if there's 10 units of something for sale, and any one person can only use 1 of them, and only 9 people want to buy 1, that the buyers can almost name their price, whereas as soon as there are 11 buyers the sellers get all the leverage? Gee, that's only 2 more people. How could they make all that difference, when going previously from 7 to 9 people didn't? If that question seems reasonable to you, you don't understand how this works yet. China is in the market for massive amounts of oil now. The available supply has not increased. So now the sellers get to set the price.

        There also wasn't so big a war going on in the Middle East in 1999, nor the threat of an even bigger one real soon now. Bush's threat of war against Iran quite reasonably causes markets to raise oil prices. The Iranian president just said that's why he welcomes Bush's threats - Iran makes more (and their economy is pretty screwed up in other regards under their current administration). Iran wants Bush to threated them more, as long as it doesn't go all the way to war. And because of the structural oil shortage they can get away with it.

        •  yargh yourself (0+ / 0-)

          i understand supply and demand quite well, thank you. (a b.a. in economics tends to help that)

          to make your little patronizing argument short: demand has increased, suppy had not, there are external supply shocks (war, threat of war, etc)

          the external shocks dont hold much water with me, there was a nasty 8 year war in the region between iraq and iran in the '80s, iraq invaded kuwait in '90, we expelled iraq from kuwait in '91, yet... i dont' remember $70/barrel oil then, do you?

          which leaves us with demand. if you can marshall some evidence to prove that we have surpassed some "critical mass" point, where "sellers can dictate the price," please do. and explain why this critical mass point wasn't forseen by anyone 4 years ago, if it was as simple an answer as "china."

          I believe in saving money. I believe in having a house. I believe in keeping things clean. I believe in exercising. www.walken2008.com

          by The Exalted on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:54:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  This is not the highest price for gas in history (0+ / 0-)

            when you adjust for inflation. That was in 1981. No, oil wasn't $70/barrel then, and I don't know what it was in real or adjusted terms. But the average price of gas, adjusted, remains below that time.

            And where did the demand come from? The economies of the two most populated nations on earth have exploded. Not to mention the rest of east Asia. And demand has steadily increased in the US, most of it going to personal gasoline use.

            And the rate at which new, cheap oil deposits are being found is decreasing and less than the increase in demand.

            BTW, the price for oil did spike in 1991, although I don't know where to look to find the adjusted price.

        •  also, Asian economy (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Joe Bob

          was in deep recession in the late 90s.

          Now it's booming. Voila! Demand.

          The tax breaks on gargantuan SUVs didn't help, but the initial demand for the honker-sized vehicles was prompted by $10/barrel oil.

          What goes around, comes around.

          •  now you're talking (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            libertarian soldier

            the rebound of the asian economy is a good point

            but that, and the population expansion, are not factors that were unforseen, you can be sure

            and if they weren't unforseen, why did you have oil executives saying this in 1999:

            The chairman of Royal Dutch/Shell, Mark Moody-Stuart, three months ago unveiled a five-year plan that assumed a price of $14 a barrel. He has since publicly mused about oil at $11. Sir John Browne, chief executive of BP-Amoco, is now working on a similar assumption.

            I believe in saving money. I believe in having a house. I believe in keeping things clean. I believe in exercising. www.walken2008.com

            by The Exalted on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 02:12:15 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Wasn't it Royal Dutch/Shell (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              theran

              that a couple of years ago admitted it had overstated its reserves? And had a crash in its stocks, IIRC.

              Prior optimism. Current uncertainty.

            •  A lot of reasons (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              libertarian soldier

              First of all, how could an oil company forecast an increase in economic growth in East Asia.  Companies have to make forecasts that include a minimal amount of speculation.  You make a forecast which is the most pessimistic possible, so that you stand to make money in the absolutely worst case.  Obviously they don't suffer from higher oil prices, but if they assumed oil at $50 and had acted accordingly, they'd have been running a huge risk of suffering massive losses and even going bankrupt (anyone who ran their business like that would eventually go bankrupt, it would be surprising, if they even lasted a single year, and most businesses don't).  

              Secondly, the oil companies do not really have a good handle on what is going on.  Even the US DOE and UN energy watchdogs are predicting massive increases in supply, but where is that supply supposed to come from?  It's all supposed to be handled by OPEC.  The problem is OPEC's reserve figures are largely BS and they don't really have the supplies, in fact they might be reaching peak production right now.  

              Your whole argument seems to revolve around the premise that "these guys are so smart, how could they not see this coming".  But the whole thing is pretty laughable, because if we were really "so smart", we wouldn't have this problem in the first place.  Sorry to have to say this, but there aren't a lot of smart people running countries and companies in this world, there are just a lot of dumb people doing it.  

              In Britain they admit to having royalty. In the United States we pretend we don't have any, and then we elect them president.

              by Asak on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:14:56 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  well my point is (0+ / 0-)

                that the current problem results from executive strategery/wrongdoing

                and by executive, i dont mean in the business of oil

                I believe in saving money. I believe in having a house. I believe in keeping things clean. I believe in exercising. www.walken2008.com

                by The Exalted on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 12:07:31 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  this is from the economist in 1999 (0+ / 0-)

          OIL is cheaper today, in real terms, than it was in 1973. After two OPEC-induced decades of expensive oil, oil producers and the oil industry as a whole have more or less given up hope that prices might rebound soon. The chairman of Royal Dutch/Shell, Mark Moody-Stuart, three months ago unveiled a five-year plan that assumed a price of $14 a barrel. He has since publicly mused about oil at $11. Sir John Browne, chief executive of BP-Amoco, is now working on a similar assumption.

          Consumers everywhere will rejoice at the prospect of cheap, plentiful oil for the foreseeable future.

          what has changed with the demand that the chairman of royal dutch shell was unaware of in 1999?

          I believe in saving money. I believe in having a house. I believe in keeping things clean. I believe in exercising. www.walken2008.com

          by The Exalted on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 02:09:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  and with oil (0+ / 0-)

            at either $11 or $14 a barrel you'd have a massive civil war in russia because the eastern oil rich section would try to secede.

            i'd bet every dime i own that the meeting vp cheney had with the oil industry focused on raising the price of oil in order to prevent the russian breakup. in fact these meetings started before the nov. 2000 elections.

            the russian protest against the iraq invasion was merely a ruse as it was completely in their interest.  

            •  Huh? (0+ / 0-)

              You read the news at all, there is a massive civil war in Russia.  It's been running for years.  The price of oil has absolutely nothing to do with Russia, and these sort of tin foil theories add nothing, they just dumb the discussion down.  

              In Britain they admit to having royalty. In the United States we pretend we don't have any, and then we elect them president.

              by Asak on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:16:19 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Why $70/barrel? (7+ / 0-)

        Because people are willing to pay that much, simple as that.  Look, I'm no shill for Big Oil, but you're insisting that they prove a negative.  ExxonMobil produces literally millions of pages of public documentation every year.  Their tax return alone runs into the thousands of pages.  You want to know what they're up to, it's all right there.  There's no smoking gun, or people would have found it years ago.  

        The bottom line is, the demand for their product supports the price.  Don't like it?  Find an alternative.  Better yet, establish an alternative, and make your own self filthy rich.

        "I hear the voices" -- George Walker "Son Of Sam" Bush
        Darcy Burner for WA-08

        by FaithAndReason on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:04:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  No. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        libertarian soldier

        The price of oil collapsed temporarily in '98 because a financial panic in the emerging Asian economies caused a sudden drop in oil demand and a resulting glut.

        I personally saw this effect in action as I was traveling to Bangkok on business every few months back then.  On the first visit the traffic was horrible because all the newly "rich" Thais had purchased cars.  By my third visit the traffic was noticeably reduced because so many cars had been parked or seized when their owners became unemployed.

    •  ride a bike! (0+ / 0-)

      Critical Mass is this Friday!  

      and the last Friday of every month, Worldwide...

  •  sorry (15+ / 1-)

    sorry it is YOU who is buying into Bullshit.

    There is at this moment PLENTY of oil in the ground. The problem is big oil has not and will not create new refineries. The lack of refineries is what is creating this ARTIFICIAL gas shortage.

    Just like in the 70's, this shortage is manmade.  Certainly in the future we need to get of the mother earth oil teet, but as of today, there is planety of oil in the ground.  Hell Chavez is sitting on top of 80 BILLION barrels himself.

    This whole shortage was and is made by big oil. We are being fucked on purpose. Why? because they can.

    •  Oil reserves (0+ / 0-)

      80 billion is a little high, but close.  wiki

      •  But... (0+ / 0-)

        The US is currently burning through about 21 million barrels a day. Even if the 80 billion barrel figure is correct, we could easily dispose of it in a little over 10 years (assuming the US got ALL of it, which we won't, especially if Bush keeps pissing Chavez off).

        Big numbers should always be put into perspective. 80 billions barrels ain't THAT much.

        "It is not skeptics or explorers but fanatics and ideologues who menace decency and progress." --Daniel J. Boorstin

        by mrhelper on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 04:58:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  CA study (7+ / 0-)

      i read a story on fool.com which described the findings of a CA report on the change in gas prices from 1999 to 2006.  The report broke down the cost and showed that the crude oil cost was way up and refining costs were actually down slightly.

      http://www.fool.com/...

      •  agreed. (6+ / 0-)

        Yesterday, I was looking at data from California that basically says the same thing--it's the crude, dude. This isn't to say that we don't need more refinery capacity, or that not having enough refinery capacity can't push up the price of gas--it can. However, it just isn't right now, not nearly as much as crude oil prices, which are like 60% of the total cost now.

        •  lol... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          means are the ends

          Just saw that fool.com article, looks like they're using the same data. Sweet! :)

        •  crude (0+ / 0-)

          crude oil is based on speculation on the markets. Oil is high because of the lack of refineries, and refineries in troubled nations.  It is all about refineries dude.

          •  possible, but still absurd. (6+ / 0-)

            Of course people can speculate on oil for whatever reason they like, but pushing up the cost of oil because of a shortage of refineries is like pushing up the cost of wood because of a shortage of construction projects. You'd push up the cost of wood because of a shortage of trees; a shortage of construction projects should make the price of wood go down, because people would be using less wood. Similarly, a true refinery shortage should create a glut of crude oil, which would push the price of oil down.

            •  Conversely, if the supply of crude is down (34+ / 0-)

              why should an oil company invest its profits into more refineries? That would be like building a sawmill in downtown Boston, where there are no trees to be harvested for miles and no cost-effective way of getting any there.

              So it is about the refineries, dude, but not in the way you mean.

              Oil companies KNOW that crude is drying up. That's why they're not investing in any unnecessary infrastructure. But they're not about to tell us that. Their line is, "The big, bad gummint won't LET us find more oil! We want the ANWR! Waaaa!" while not mentioning that the amount of oil under Alaska would only supply the nation's needs for six months -- assuming they didn't decide to sell it elsewhere for an even higher price, that is.

              I got a spam email from a clueless friend that repeated this same lie. We are addicted to oil, and the petro companies are waving nickel bags of the stuff before our eyes and saying, "Want more? Then give us what we want first!"

              Does anyone know if the petro companies plan to repair any refineries in the area of damage from Katrina? If not, that would be one possible indicator.

              There is but one surefire way to vanquish conservatives, and that is to beat the shit out of them."--David Podvin

              by Sharoney on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:39:31 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  BINGO! n/t (3+ / 0-)

                I am the federal government.

                by mateosf on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:45:38 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  they (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                nymosyn, jarrrettg

                they haven't built refineries for decades-  decades.  They (big oil) have also bought and shelved smaller refineries. It is this lack of refining capacity which has speculators worried about a possible oil crisis due to war, weather, unrest.  therefore lack of refineries and the fear it causes speculators is a main culprit in the cost of oil.

                The price of oil isn't about reality, it is about possible reality.

                •  Agreed. (0+ / 0-)

                  Don't know whether it is "the main" culprit, but fear certainly drives prices up.

                  There is but one surefire way to vanquish conservatives, and that is to beat the shit out of them."--David Podvin

                  by Sharoney on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 12:36:30 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Why not more refineries? (2+ / 0-)

                  Because refineries are stinky, and have a nasty tendency to blow up in great big fireballs.  I lived on Refinery Row (southeast of Houston) for a while, and it's not a pretty place.  People don't want 'em in their backyards, or anywhere within 100 miles for that matter.

                  I'm no fan of Mobil (even though my dad worked for them for years, and they paid my way through college), but I can certainly understand that they would be loath to take on the huge cost and risk of siting and obtaining regulatory approval, only to have it all end up worthless when demand suddenly drops (as they no doubt anticipated -- they knew all about Peak Oil long before anybody was talking about it on the internets.)

                  "I hear the voices" -- George Walker "Son Of Sam" Bush
                  Darcy Burner for WA-08

                  by FaithAndReason on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:09:32 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Ridiculous (0+ / 0-)

                  Lack of refineries is one problem, but it's not the whole picture and not even close to explaining the high oil prices.  You think lack of refineries is more important than a war in the Middle East and a threat for another one?  Sorry, but that is just absurd and you need to get a clue.  

                  Yes, people are worried about war causing a shortage in oil, refinery capacity has nothing to do with it.  

                  In Britain they admit to having royalty. In the United States we pretend we don't have any, and then we elect them president.

                  by Asak on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:23:59 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Hum, sounds logical, but . . . (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              nehark, pigpaste

              there are TWO choke points:  pumping the barrels of oil AND refining oil.  Choking both is an effective way to siphon billions from the world economy but the price pinch and subsequent backlash can be partially deflected in some cases by PEAK OIL cries.  In other cases the profits made at the refinery choke point can be cloaked by the price of the oil barrel.  

              Your analogy is cute but applicable only in the narrow instance when oil producers forget their own best interests.  Why in the hell would oil producing nations allow for a glut of oil to be on the market when all they have to do is pump less and make even more money!!!  The oil producers shot themselves in the foot in the past by driving down prices by over producing (ie cheating on quotas).   Not this time.  Peak oil IS around the corner, and China sure is thirsty for oil but read the following report --  The Oil Industry, Gas Supply and Refinery Capacity:
              More Than Meets the Eye
              An investigative report presented
              by Senator Ron Wyden
              on June 14, 2001.  Oil is controlled by a cartel and they profit the most when supplies fails to match demand.  Crises are perfect profit engines--wars, busted pipelines, falling reserves--anything that limits production.  Peak Oil will one day arrive, but the timing of its arrival should be suspect since it is also the oil cartel's wet dream.

              As an aside, I think the oil prices and other commodity prices are in part hinting at the real decline in the value of the dollar.   I'm sure the US Treasury is busy printing dollars in an effort to devalue the dollar to blunt our ballooning trade deficit.

              •  So you're saying (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                pb, rjo, libertarian soldier

                that oil companies are purposefully limiting crude production to drive up prices??  Please, please tell me where these underutilized oil fields are, so that I can buy in and make a killing on the market!!  Better yet, you go invest, then come back and tell us all about it.  What, not willing to put your money where your mouth is?

                At any rate, the linked report describes efforts to affect refining capacity, not production capacity.  Now, I greatly respect Wyden -- I voted for him when he ran against Smith, and rather enjoyed the irony of voting for the Jew over the Mormon -- but this is report was just grandstanding (which of course every effective politician does regularly.)  Right off the bat, his line about "I have recently obtained documents showing..." without mentioning that said documents are in the public domain, shows that he's making a political argument rather than an economic or legal one.

                And what do those documents show?  Well, that excess refining capacity was hurt Big Oil's profits.  Well, duh.  Demand was down (in large part to more fuel-efficient cars and other conservation measures), so the excess capacity was just costing them money.  The same conclusion would apply if they were producing tennis shoes or widgets or breakfast cereals.  No need to imagine some smoke-filled room or secret cabal; it's all very much out in the open.

                "I hear the voices" -- George Walker "Son Of Sam" Bush
                Darcy Burner for WA-08

                by FaithAndReason on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:36:19 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Think of it this way (0+ / 0-)

                  So you're saying that oil companies are purposefully limiting crude production to drive up prices??

                  That really isn't an accurate way to look at it.  Oil companies have an exhaustible resource: reserves of oil that will eventually be depleted.  They can choose to sell it now, or hold on to it later.  Whichever one they think will bring the greatest proficts, they will make that choice.  If they can make more money in the future by holding on to the oil, they will do so.  If the current price reaches the point where they are indifferent betweens selling it now or in the future, they will start to sell it.  

                  So it's not really a matter of limiting production to drive up prices; rather, its a matter of holding on to incremental produciton until the prices reach a level that makes it profitable to increase production.  

                  Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

                  by johnny rotten on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 02:12:08 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Actually ... (0+ / 0-)

                the "cartel's wet dream" is $100 barrel oil for four years and $10 for the fifth, that sort of uncertainty keeps people from investing seriously in alternatives and keeps them addicted to the product.  Price goes -- and stays -- high enough, the search will be on (seriously) for alternatives for getting our fix ...

                9/11/05, Day 1469, A count worth keeping? Or, Osama Bin Forgotten?

                by besieged by bush on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:52:44 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  i guess (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mrd in nyc

              I guess you never worked on wall street then. 70 bucks a gallon is based on speculation. Currently speculation is based on fear.  Fear that one, or more refineries will be knocked offline due to war, weather, unrest.

              The price of oil is based on not what is happening in so much as what MAY happen.

              I am amazed most people simply don't get this

              •  Couldn't Agree More (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                pb

                "Supply and Demand" my ass.  This stuff is about what we think supply and demand should be.  And, oh look, it's really profitable when we say demand is high and supply is low (even tho the numbers don't really show that).

                He not busy being born is busy dying.

                by jarrrettg on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 12:05:00 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  You're confusing (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                pb, kd texan

                Refineries with pumping stations. Refineries take oil and produce gasoline. If all the refineries were to be knocked out, oil would be worthless. Refineries consume oil, and a loss of consumers reduces demand, and therefore prices (of oil).

    •  It's not that simple! (39+ / 0-)

      It's not as if the pipe at the bottom end of an oil well is some sort of straw going into a big underground cavern filled up with oil. Oil is embedded in sponge-like rock, usually mixed in with water and several dissolved gases. The oil is under pressure, so at first it gushes out of a well, but that's only the first bit of oil that will do that. Then you need to pump it out somehow--often by pumping millions of gallons of water per day into other wells to force the oil up. All the while the petroleum engineers have to keep an eye on the pressure at the well, and make sure that the dissolved gases don't come out of solution. Sometimes the pores of the sponge-like rock aren't sufficiently connected, so the engineers set off explosives to open the rocks up a bit. And we've also learned that the faster you pump the oil out of a particular well, the less you'll ultimately be able to recover.

      Or more simply: it's not just a matter of opening up a valve. There are good reasons why oil production curves look bell-shaped, instead of a some constant value that drops suddenly to zero once the last drop is taken. Even with the best techniques, much of the oil is left in the ground, and at some point, it would take more energy to pull this oil out than you'd get from the oil itself. Add to that that oil reserve estimates are not terribly accurate.

      I'm not a petroleum engineer, but I've read some of their books: Ken Deffeyes, Colin Campbell, plus physicist David Goodstein and energy banker Matthew Simmons.

      •  In addition (10+ / 0-)

        He ignores the basic economics of oil .  Assuming that they are rational profit maximizers, oil producers will only sell additional oil if they can get the same or equal price that they will get at any point in the future, discounted back to the present.  

        In others words, oil producers will not sell additional oil if they will make more money by holding on to it and selling it in the future.  Oil producers are looking to maximize their profits over the long term.  

        It would not be rational for oil producers to sell lots of gas cheaply today when they can hold on to it and sell it for higher prices in the future.  And with ever-increasing demand and decreasing supplies, the oil producers probably have good reason to think that they can make more money by holding on to their incremental oil.    

        As a result, the oil producers only sell more oil when the current price reaches the level where they are indifferent between selling it today or in the future.  That is how the future energy scene affects today's prices.  

        No conspiracies needed -it's just basic economics.    

        Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

        by johnny rotten on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:13:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  It doesn't matter: (22+ / 0-)

      Whether there really are larger, untapped reserves or not is ultimately a moot point - the political dynamics that the diarist outlined will still exist.

      • People will complain about price gouging (real or not)
      • Oil companies will complain about access
      • The GOP will help them by opening up fields like ANWAR

      The diarist is right on, regardless of which of you is right about actual oil reserves.  Targeting complaints at price gouging is the wrong way to go.

      Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

      by pico on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 09:53:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Would you like... (0+ / 0-)

      Anyone for an oil refinery in their backyard? C'mon, anyone.......not just a big oil problem!!!

      Also while there is a lot of oil in the ground we may never produce more each day than we do now. That means prices will go up as there are some folks outside the USA that want their fair share too.

      Just because you can doesn't mean you should!

      by taonow on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:03:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exxon (8+ / 0-)

        Exxon mobile posted the LARGEST CORPORATE earning profits in the HISTORY of the US last year.  What part of being screwed in the ass don't you get?

        •  Ah (13+ / 0-)

          Noble American as victim, one of our favorite myths.

          Goddamnit, cheap gas is guaranteed to us by the almighty God. It's in the Constitution, right after the part about getting to have a gun. The fact that there's less oil in the ground and ever more demand for it just doesn't matter!

          •  our (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lrhoke, The Exalted, jarrrettg

            our whole economy is based on it. Are you willing to go into a long drawn out recession? are you willing to lose you job?,  that's what will happen to many of us. This is about inflation, this is about recession. I find it ironic that many simply do not understand what high oil prices mean.

          •  92 Million (0+ / 0-)

            That's what Exxon's CEO made last year.  I'm just saying it's a lot of money.

            The strange thing about all of this is how FAST oil has gone up.  If it was all a simple matter or "supply and demand" then you'd think we'd used up at least 1/3 or even 1/4 of the world's oil (talking about the easy to get stuff) in the last 2 years.  I find that a little hard to believe.

            Just like in the present natural gas market, and the electricity market of 2001-02, oil--more specifically gas--has gone up way faster than we're using supply.  

            In Chicago this year, they started telling us last summer that prices were going to be up to 70% higher next winter.  That was before Katrina.  But when the winter turned out to be overly mild, those prices stayed high even though the demand was much smaller than anticipated.  How do you explain that?

            He not busy being born is busy dying.

            by jarrrettg on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 12:03:28 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  In The Example of Chicago (0+ / 0-)

              I was talking about natural gas, sorry for any confusion.

              He not busy being born is busy dying.

              by jarrrettg on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 12:06:36 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  It does make sense. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Lollipops

              This is a complicated issue, but I have spent a lot of time studying it. The easy answer is to blame the oil companies, but that is wrong. Here is a better answer:

              In the past the world COULD produce around 84 million barrels per day and we used say 80 million. The "extra" 4 million was not produced and acted as a reserve. Because we knew there was a reserve prices stayed low (no shortage).

              Fast forward to now. Now we produce 84 million and use 84 million. Production is flat, demand is increasing. All of a sudden everyone sees that demand is going up, but production is not, so everyone tries to buy up what they can - hence a sharp rise in prices.

              And NO the flat production is not the fault of oil companies. The remaining oil in the world is left in not so nice places, usually where the government controls who gets to produce it, so even if say Exxon wants to drill for oil in Saudi (where all the oil is) it CAN'T.

              Why is production not going up - do some google work on Peak Oil!

              Just because you can doesn't mean you should!

              by taonow on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 06:24:38 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  In economics, the general rule of thumb (0+ / 0-)

                is a shift in demand of 2-3% in very tight markets - i.e., where demand and supply are closely matched - can result in price swings of 20, 30, even 40%.

                Depends a lot on the ability of buyers to switch to other commodities; in energy markets, where bad policies have left us with no choices, that price swing will tend toward the more extreme end of the scale. And since demand is only growing, prices may stabilize with subtle regional shifts in demand, but they will not come down on a global scale.

                I am the federal government.

                by mateosf on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 06:31:16 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  But (0+ / 0-)

                  Economic theories that account for 40% increases in prices due to 2% increases in demand, must acknowledge that speculation is the primary cost increaser.  

                  I'm not sure if i'm right about that, but it seems that way to me.  

                  Thus, speculation is the reason for the higher costs.  One way to help that would be to acknowledge it and move on to a more sane way of thinking, if possible.  We can't even get the Feds to acknowledge it.  All they talk about is price gouging.  What about wild speculation that will lead to vast profits in particular industries?

                  He not busy being born is busy dying.

                  by jarrrettg on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 07:24:43 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Totally wrong, and here's why - (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    theran, taonow

                    Suppose you are a diabetic, and you need insulin to make it through the day alive.

                    On most days, insulin producers make enough insulin so that everybody gets their dose, and they have about 5% more insulin than everyone needs. Price stays stable, everybody gets to live through the day.

                    Now suppose there's a hurricane that takes out 15% of insulin production. Suddenly, instead of a 5% surplus, the insulin providers don't have enough to go around.

                    You, as a diabetic, will pay whatever it costs - regardless - to make sure you get your dose, as will all the other diabetics. The price climbs dramatically, and rapidly, as everyone bids up the limited supply of insulin.

                    Cut to the typical energy trading room floor. You own a trucking business, and you watch as hurricane Katrina or threats of war in Iran or something else threatens to interrupt the supply of oil. You bet that, in two months, the cost will be higher than it is today, so you buy futures contracts for the current price, betting that it will end up saving you money.

                    Trouble is, everybody ELSE is ALSO betting the future price will be higher, because they also own trucking businesses and can't afford to risk the higher prices - see where this goes?

                    The notion that speculation is somehow automatically bad defies some fundamental rules of resource economics: that is, scarce resources will be priced according to both actual availability, and expert predictions on future availability. And the experts are pretty unanimous - we ain't gonna have more oil in the future. Much, much less. Dig?

                    I am the federal government.

                    by mateosf on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 09:32:51 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  You bet that (0+ / 0-)

                      So you acknowledge that there is betting going on?  That's all I'm asking for.  I don't think the public gets that picture from the typical explanation of "supply and demand." Do you?

                      He not busy being born is busy dying.

                      by jarrrettg on Sat Apr 29, 2006 at 10:58:50 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Have you ever purchased anything? (0+ / 0-)

                        Do you realize that everything you buy - EVERYTHING - was, at some point in its life, priced by a competitive bidding/betting process?

                        Have you ever bought bananas? You can go to longshore docks in Ecuador and Central America and bid against other buyers for shipping containers filled with bananas. It's easier for you to just walk down to the Safeway and pay whatever fixed price they're charging, but if you really want control of the price, you can go and bet just like everyone else. They bet that the hurricane season will be light or heavy, they bet that the Panama Canal won't or will have too much traffic to ship bananas to market before they rot in the boat, they bet that the harvest from Asia won't be big, or will be big, they bet that the mold from last season was killed by fungicide, or that it will devastate most of the crop ...

                        What about t-shirts? There are brokers in Beijing who troll the street markets and factory districts looking for the best price. They bet that there won't be a labor shortage driving up costs in the factories, they bet that the price of cotton will stay stable or will climb dramatically because of weather- or insect-related crop loss, they bet that Mexico or Africa won't get more efficient at making t-shirts and undermine their price points ...

                        I don't suppose you own any t-shirts, and perhaps you've never bought any bananas.

                        But surely you've heard of E-bay?

                        The notion that "betting" or price speculation is somehow a malady that uniquely effects rich stock brokers is completely inconsistent with the way the world really works. You, and I mean you, jarrettg, either bet on things every single day, or you confirm the bets of the people who make your comfortable first-world life possible by paying what someone else is charging for their wares.

                        The fact that you are either unaware of this, or would just as soon not admit it, does not make the reality any less true. And the bottom line, really, is this: don't like the price of gasoline? Then don't buy any.

                        I am the federal government.

                        by mateosf on Mon May 01, 2006 at 10:21:26 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  What About The Price of Natural Gas (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          mateosf

                          Should I not buy any of that either?  Don't some thing seem more necessary and, hence, should be regulated more?  What about price controls?  They can't raise my electric bill without asking permission from a regulatory state board.  Does that make electricity quasi-betting?  

                          If supply and demand is the only reason why the price of gas has risen so quickly, then it should also exlain why the price should drop quickly at some point.  But that's not supposed to happen either (according to T. Snow).  

                          I appreciate your points, but I think neither of us is completely right.  I think you'll disagree, and your points are well thought out, but I think my point begs the question: why not more regulation?

                          He not busy being born is busy dying.

                          by jarrrettg on Mon May 01, 2006 at 12:08:19 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  You can very easily and dramatically reduce (0+ / 0-)

                            your use of both natural gas and gasoline.

                            Gasoline: no need to beleaguer the point. High MPG cars, bicylces, living near public transit/housing/community choices - all sorts of options available to most of us to use less gas. Not to toot my own horn - that was not my goal here - but I spent $250 on gasoline last year and drove a total of about 3000 miles, mostly for pleasure. I'm not rich, I own an old piece of shit car that gets 25 mpg and a very nice bike on which I'm comfortable riding 15 miles an hour wherever I need to go (unlimited mpg). My choice.

                            Natural gas: necessary? Only as necessary as you choose to make it.

                            You could, for example, tell your power provider that you want them to buy wind power to reduce their reliance on gas-fired power. Depending on where you live, your utility should have a wind power purchase option, and chances are your utility uses a lot of gas for power generation (it's not just for home heating anymore). Wind power is cheaper than gas-fired power by a hefty margin. So it's up to you. And if your utility doesn't offer wind power, it's because folks like you have not been loud enough in PUC rate cases asking for it.

                            You can also replace your refrigerator, A/C, washer-dryer and water boiler with more efficient versions. On-demand electric water heaters save TONS of gas. Ditto "energy star" dryers & A/C's & fridges.

                            Again, depending on where you live, your utility should have financial incentives for you to buy this stuff. If they don't it's because rate payers in your area (perhaps you included?) haven't yet demanded good gas demand-side management (DSM in the lingo) programs that save consumers money. DSM doesn't happen if you don't ask for it - i.e., if you're not a demanding consumer, you won't get a responsive seller.

                            You can make your home so efficient that it barely needs any outside source of energy. The technology to do this has been available for going on 40 years now. But most people choose the easy path of combustible hydrocarbons, because, until now, it SEEMED cheap and fast. Our ilusory fast cheap American lifestyle is, one way or another, coming to an end.

                            And, FWIW, yes, America is also running out of natural gas. Recent news coverage of price manipulation notwithstanding, the price of natural gas will be high from now until forever, so buy as much or as little as you like, I don't care. You should see what they're doing to the Rocky Mountains to try to sate our thirst for natural gas. There won't be a square mile from Alamagordo to Kalispell that hasn't been drilled by the time they're done, and the price STILL won't come down.

                            I haven't seen a sudden price drop in either oil or nat.gas any time in the last 6 years - perhaps I missed something. The whole point of my diary is that while the price will continue to climb in fits and starts for both, it can't drop anymore - at least, not until we're using so little of it that only industries that depend on those feedstocks will be buying.

                            Regulate the price of oil or gas or electricity all you want. It makes a bad situation worse, has serious unintended consequences and does nothing to address the underlying problem: we have a limited resource for which we have an unlimited thirst. We have no understanding of or respect for our energy system, and we just want it to work.

                            Well, game over. We've taken the system for granted for so long it's breaking, and who's to blame? If you forget to change the oil in your car for 20,000 miles and the engine seizes, do you sue or regulate your mechanic? At what point do we as consumers bear responsibility for our purchases? Never? Do you believe in "buyer beware"? What other purchases should the government regulate to make sure we lowly, ignorant masses don't accidentally buy a bridge to Brooklyn?

                            Drunks also get mad at bartenders at closing time. I take it you'd side with the drunk?

                            All said, snarkily, with respect ...

                            I am the federal government.

                            by mateosf on Mon May 01, 2006 at 01:16:43 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I take it you'd side with the drunk? (0+ / 0-)

                            are you kidding?

                            He not busy being born is busy dying.

                            by jarrrettg on Thu May 04, 2006 at 01:32:17 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

        •  Supply goes down, profits go up. (5+ / 0-)

          Attacking the windfall profits of the oil companies without addressing the issue of dwindling oil reserves is like trying to get rid of the alligators without first draining the swamp.

          Besides, what makes you think that CheneyCo. is going to do ANYTHING about price gouging? He's profiting right along with the companies, because he's joined to them at the hip.

          There is but one surefire way to vanquish conservatives, and that is to beat the shit out of them."--David Podvin

          by Sharoney on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:43:34 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  So fucking what? (0+ / 0-)

          Exxon's profit is irrelevant.  It's not like they have an oil monopoly.  Exxon made a lot of money because people are willing to pay a high price for gasoline!  It's that simple!

          Exxon pays an effective 40% income tax rate.  How much do you pay?  I'd have to say that Exxon is not behaving in a particularly evil fashion here.

    •  just like the fake CA energy shortage... (6+ / 0-)

      ...we're told its a supply problem. I didn't believe that either.

      Call me cynical or naive or even an idiot, but I just don't buy the present propaganda. Yes I do understand the future of fossil fuels is not sustainable and we should do everything we personally can to change our dependance on it, but I still call bullshit on the present price situation. And there might very well BE a small supply problem, but I still call bullshit.

      The price of gas was pretty constant with some summer spikes until Team Bush (who is coincidentally aka Team Oil, Gas & Energy) came into office and got their wars on. Look at who is benefiting most from the present situation - companies like Exxon with a $36 Billion dollar profit from ONE QUARTER.

      "Watch what you say or they'll be calling you a radical, a liberal, fanatical, criminal..."-7.75, -7.28

      by solesse413 on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:13:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Partly... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        besieged by bush

        It is at least partly a supply problem.
        The world market lost a lot of Iraqi oil after the "liberation" of Iraq. Add in depleting oil fields (=less production) like the North Sea oil fields. That  surely didn´t help supply.
        On the other hand you´ve got countries like India and China with rising oil demand.
        Those facts alone would result in higher oil prices.

        Couple that with unrest in Nigeria (large oil producer) and speculations about an attack on Iran, and you´ll see an additional "risk premium" added to the price of oil.

        Of course Bush is responsible for Iraq and Iran....

        •  And in Venezuala... (0+ / 0-)

          Chavez is making noises about moving to nationalize the oil fields, which would likely result in reduced investment in the infrastructure necessary to access their large oil reserves, taking still more future supply off the table.

          (Exxon, Chevron, etc. aren't going to continue ploughing money into development if they will not be reaping the profits. )

      •  Okay (7+ / 0-)

        You're almost totally cynical, naive, and an idiot.

        I say almost because there is one thing about Team Bush. Invading Iraq has taken their supply offline.

        Not caused by Bush is the Nigerian unrest which has taken a chunk of their supply offline.

        When you have zero excess supply capacity, removing even a minor % of total supply causes prices to shoot up. Sorry...no magic "smiting of the vile oil companies" will make people commutes cheaper, i'm afraid.

      •  If you are going (0+ / 0-)

        to CAPITALIZE words, get them right.  Exxon did not have $36 Billion dollar profit in ONE QUARTER.  That was for the entire YEAR.

        The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.

        by deathsinger on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:14:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  team bush (2+ / 0-)

        was in bed with enron, who created the CA energy crisis

        who should our fingers point to now, for the explosion of oil prices that profits . . . whom?

        I believe in saving money. I believe in having a house. I believe in keeping things clean. I believe in exercising. www.walken2008.com

        by The Exalted on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:52:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Global peak (0+ / 0-)

        is near. Global discovery peaked in the early 60's. Production curves alway follow discovery curves. M.K. Hubbert, the famous Shell petrogeoloist, used these curves to predict US production peak in 56. He was dead on, US production peaked in 71.

        Believe what you will, but your lifestyle is about to change.

        I suggest you learn about permaculture, sustainability, and alternative energy. Good luck to you.

        •  I don't disagree about peak oil (0+ / 0-)

          Why assume because I believe price manipulation is happening, I'm automatically ignorant of the ongoing peak oil discussion, alternative energies and methods/systems of sustainability? This was a diary about oil prices so my post specifically addressed whether I believed price manipulation was a myth. If you write a diary about those other topics I'll recommend and add my two pence.

          "Watch what you say or they'll be calling you a radical, a liberal, fanatical, criminal..."-7.75, -7.28

          by solesse413 on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 05:10:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  backwards (6+ / 0-)

      The lack of refineries does increase the price of gasoline, but it decreases the price of crude oil.

      The United States has been importing refined oil for a many years and I think this is a good thing.  It is much better to import gasoline rather than having to build expensive and polluting refineries in the United States.

      And, I don't think there is worldwide shortage of refining capacity.

      People seem to want to avoid talking about the real reason for the price of crude oil which is the wars in the Middle East.

      just a jump to the left

      by BradMajors on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:20:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  80 billion isn't much (4+ / 0-)

      Also, Venezualan oil is pretty dirty stuff, it sells for $10-20 less than light Saudi crude on the markets. We are running out of the cheap stuff because all the important reserves today are more expensive oil. The Saudi fields are pumping out more and more water mixed with their crude.

      Chavez is trying to get 230+ billion barrels certified. The problem is that this is all very heavy crude, it's more like tar than oil. This requires more refining before it can be refined into gasoline.

      I don't disagree that the shortage is artificially heightened by lack of capital investment by oil companies, but not as much as the fact that the cheap stuff is gone.

    •  different fuel mixtures.... (0+ / 0-)

      Not to mention the problem with different states requiring mixtures of fuel.

      Why the hell can't all the states agree on one mixture?  Why can't we all agree to use what California uses, which I guess would be better for the environment anyway.

      •  A few reasons (0+ / 0-)
        1. There isn't enough ETOH produced in the country.
        1. Not all refineries can make the CA reformulated gasoline.
        1. Higher altitude areas use slightly different gasoline (lower octance).

        The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.

        by deathsinger on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:17:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Good points...... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          deathsinger

          But I'll bet the refineries could be modified and in the meantime, there ought to be as much consolidation as possible.

          •  Thank you (0+ / 0-)

            The environmental groups are NOT pushing for this.  The different blends have been identified as a problem since there was a fire at a Chicago area refinery several years ago.  Gas jumped because there was no place to bring in that formula from.

            The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.

            by deathsinger on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:39:25 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Not even different states (0+ / 0-)

        In Illinois, there are several different blends used within the state. If you drive down I-55 from Chicago to St. Louis, you will go through four different EPA gasoline zones. The blend used in the Chicago area is different from the blend used in most of Downstate, which is different from the blend in the Illinois suburbs of St. Louis, which is different from the blend in St. Louis proper. I remember reading when a refinery catches fire in this area, that we can't just get more from a refinery Downstate to make up for the difference while the refinery is repaired, and vice versa - the Downstate refineries don't make the Chicago blend. (some information found  here)

        Proud to live in a Blue State!

        by Sister Havana on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:29:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Let's Assume Refineries are the Bottleneck (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pb, seaprog, besieged by bush

      If refineries are a bottleneck in the supply chain that puts an upper cap on the demand for crude. Remove the bottleneck and the demand and price for crude could go up even more.
      Why are people so skeptical about the effects of political instability? Political unrest in Nigeria has already reduced production by 25%. Bush is hyping the Iranian nuclear program, and they're talking about airstrikes with nuclear bunker busters. It's no surprise traders are nervous about future supplies.

    •  Venezuela and Canada... (0+ / 0-)

      when discussing the huge reserves, have to do mostly w/ unconventional oil, such as oil sands...

      Alberta, Canada, is now taking on such focus because the price of oil makes it feasible to go for these unconventional sources; thus, the discussion of the "end of cheap oil."  (And, if we're serious about these sources, then we have to remain up to date about the environmental cost as well... Alberta's got to be one of the most beautiful places in the world...)

      But even those, w/ the huge reserves they have now, and will have, even at their highest rate of production, which they hope to reach in another few years, will always face significant limits in their rate of production at any one time.  Sure, that can go on for a long, long time, but 6 or so million barrels of oil per day is not going to take care of the rate of depletion elsewhere...

      Also, a big challenge for these unconventional oil supplies is the energy needed for their production...

    •  If it were the refineries ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pb

      why would crude prices being going up?  If it was simply the refineries, oil would be dropping in price as tankers sat at refineries waiting to get their oil into the system.  Not happening ...

      As to "There is at this moment PLENTY of oil in the ground", what is your basis for this stark and forceful statement.  Yes, there is PLENTY of oil but plenty in what terms?  Do you believe in Peak Oil or accept the EIA fantasy statements that the trends be damned, oil discoveries will increase dramatically (where, they don't say)?

      9/11/05, Day 1469, A count worth keeping? Or, Osama Bin Forgotten?

      by besieged by bush on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:49:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  80 billion barrels at what production price? (0+ / 0-)

      And how are we to know whether that figure is accurate, or the most optimistic.  

      Just throwing out numbers doesn't mean shit, really, it depends on a whole lot of other factors.  For example, if it takes $30 to get the oil out of the ground, it's not going to sell for less than $30.  

      Additionally, oil being in the ground means little, because if it's in the ground it's not going to be going into your gas tank any time soon.  It matters how much is being produced, not how much is (supposedly) left.  

      In Britain they admit to having royalty. In the United States we pretend we don't have any, and then we elect them president.

      by Asak on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:19:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Amen, brother... (5+ / 0-)

    I posted a similar diary yesterday, but that real estate analogy makes the scenario much clearer to a lot of people.

    Everyone wants to think there's some easy investigation that we can perform that will make high prices go away. The reality is, if you want to avoid high prices, you need to avoid the product as much as possible, as soon as possible. Yeah, oil companies make profits in the billions, but how many gallons of gas are they selling per year in the US alone?

    •  PS (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      seaprog, Unduna

      Get ready for the "refineries!!!!!!!!11111111" people.
      Yes, we need more refineries. Environmental laws make them harder to build than your average factory, and the thing is, even if we had twice as much refining going on, there'd still be no incentive for companies to reduce their prices because they're still finding similar numbers of buyers at current gas prices.

      Someone breathlessly noted that San Francisco's mass transit ridership has increased 4% as proof that people are reducing car use. Huh? Gas prices have spiked 30-40% in the past two or three months, and that 4% increase could be proof of increased tourism rather than anything else. Maybe when people do something about their Pennsylvania-to-NYC (or Kenosha-to-Chicago Loop) commute, we'll see evidence of vehicle use reduction.

      •  changing behavior (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        seaprog, theran

        There was a report on Today this morning that the Metro in DC has had some of its busiest days ever in the last week. Tracking ridership is not difficult these days and would be easy to prove if there has been a change in behavior.

        Anecdotally, I have seen more bicycles in the last few weeks than I remember seeing before. In fact, yesterday I was thinking that Baltimore needs to have some bike lanes to keep these people safe. But that could be becaue it's spring.

        However, I haven't, in springs past, seen people with yellow vests spouting "One less car," like I have in the last couple of weeks.

      •  huh (9+ / 0-)

        there'd still be no incentive for companies to reduce their prices because they're still finding similar numbers of buyers at current gas prices.

         as supply goes up demand goes down, as does price.  That is economics 101.  

        The reason big oil hasn't built a refinery in decades is the fact that tight supply allows their profit margin to go through the roof.  Big oil doesn't give a fuck about anyone or anything but their profits.

        •  Building more refineries (5+ / 0-)

          won't increase the supply of oil.  So I fail to see how the supply would go up.  We don't have a shortage of gas, we have a supply crunch in oil.

          And for many, many years refineries had really low profit margins.  Yes, that has changed at the moment.  Yes, it may spur additional refinery capacity.  But that doesn't solve our problems.

          •  ah (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            DelRPCV, solesse413, pissedpatriot

            check out the date on this article.  It ain't 1975.

            Scattered gasoline shortages and higher pump prices could make it a difficult week for East Coast drivers.

            They are telling us we have a gas shortage in NY.  How can that be?  Did Saudi Arabia run dry?  How about Canada?   Did the tankers or trucks stop running?   Could it be pirates?  Or could we be getting fucked by the companies that control this?   how do you spell monopoly?   I'm sorry.  A long time ago Katrina fucked up some refineries.  If they can't find all the bodies by now why should we expect them to be able to fix the refineries.

            •  Simple (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              theran

              Panic buyers are sucking up extra gas and stockpiling. I happened after Katrina as well. People expect prices to go up, so they load up the tanks, and even pump out 5 gallon containers.

            •  Ethanol change contributes (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              theran, SecondComing, Sam I Am

              The shortage on the east coast partially involved the switch to ethanol.  It takes time, clean tanks and, well, ethanol.  Ethanol is not produced on the east coast.

              The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.

              by deathsinger on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:19:50 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Plus the ETOH cannot (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                deathsinger

                be pumped through exisitng pipelines due to interaction with residual water in the lines.

                Instead, the ETOH must be transported by truck from the midwest to the east coast which has resulted in some of the recent gas shortages.

                •  great points (0+ / 0-)

                  I used to work in a company that made products with a very short shelf life that you buy in your super market.  We didn't make them in your hometown.  Sorry if you thought they were "fresh".  You'd be amazed how long guar gum is shelf stable.   It also has a very nice "mouth feel".  Trust me, you love it.  But how did we manage to get them to your local store?  Magic?   Sometimes we launched new products or changed existing products?  How did we do that?  Ever see a big ***NEW*** splashed across a product in Aisle 7?   Based on your theory for our gas shortage there should be big gaps at the grocery story shelves with signs that say "coming soon" or "sorry for the inconvenience".  

                  My question.  If the ETOH changes are causing this...when did they find out about this....last month?    

                  And if you are making $36 billion in profit, maybe you should hire someone in production planning.  Because your product has a long fucking shelf life and your performance is abysmal.  Or, perhaps, you can just claim that their are shortages and raise the price of you product %50 because...guess what?...Your competitors will do the same thing.  How does that happen?   Chance?

                  Personally I do my own production planning.  I don't drive much and don't fill up a full tank at the local station.  I prefer to just put in a little bit each time.  Probably wont' save the earth but at least i'm not loaning Exxon Mobil my money while they fuck all of us.  ExMo ran a bunch of full page ads in our newspaper after Katrina telling us they were working on keeping prices low.   Do you believe them?  I don't.  I also don't eat a lot of the food that most people do because i've been in the production facilities and I know that the only motive is profit, not taste or quality.  

                  •  For decades the oil industry (0+ / 0-)

                    has moved its porducts around by pipelines.  Now they have to start using a product, ETOH, that cannot be sent via pipline but must be trucked to the fuel blending plants.

                    The oil companies know about as much about trucks as the airlines know about hte Panama canal so it's no big surprised that theere are some logisitical screw-ups in hte transition.

                    •  really? (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      theran

                      Because i've seen more than one exxonmobile truck in the past 30 years.  They use them to deliver the gas to the stations, at least at every station i've ever seen.   I'm still not buying it.  And why would your theory explain regional shortages?  

                      Perhaps you are correct and they are just incompetent.   I doubt it.

          •  changed (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            democracyinalbany

            Huh exxon mobile had the largets corporate profits last year in the HISTORY of the US.

            Christ people are gullible.  The oil is there, big oil refusal to refine it is the problem.

            •  correction (0+ / 0-)

              in case my snark about them not being able to fix refineries was missed....I want to make it clear that the whole "katrina" excuse isn't something i'm buying into.  Also, the "new refineries are so hard to build" bullshit.  I bet they are building them in Iraq with no problem.   Along with the permanent US military bases.  Hell, they probably have blueprints for new refinieries in Iran.

              •  Not 'hard to build.' (0+ / 0-)

                Rather, an unnecessary investment in new infrastructure.

                If you have data on new refineries, I'd like to read it, because we're having enough trouble defending the oil wells in Iraq from sabotage without having to defend refineries as well.

                Although I wouldn't put it past the idiots who thought "shock and awe" would result in a short, rose-petal strewn Triumphal Entrance of the West to think that refineries are a peachy idea, too.

                There is but one surefire way to vanquish conservatives, and that is to beat the shit out of them."--David Podvin

                by Sharoney on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:49:15 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  New refineries (0+ / 0-)

                See my other post.  Refineries are are hard to build, because rampant NIMBYism makes the siting and permitting process take literally decades.  I don't fault the oil execs for refusing to take that risk; I fault the Boomer SUV drivers who don't want the plants but insist on cheap gas.  Idiots.

                "I hear the voices" -- George Walker "Son Of Sam" Bush
                Darcy Burner for WA-08

                by FaithAndReason on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:44:19 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  and the US govt slaps a tarriff on imported... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              democracyinalbany

              ...gas refined from other countries. The tarriff is 10 times the amount assessed on crude.

              "Watch what you say or they'll be calling you a radical, a liberal, fanatical, criminal..."-7.75, -7.28

              by solesse413 on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:21:49 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  profits (0+ / 0-)

              Well, they probably had the largest profits in US history because they're the largest COMPANY in US history (or close to it.)  Is that somehow ExxonMobil's fault?

              And this "refusal to refine it" line is nonsense.  Are you saying that Bush should put a gun to their heads and say "refine it... or else"?  It's their refineries, and their risk.  If you really want to nationalize the oil industry, then say so -- but don't give me this crap about "suppressing production."

              "I hear the voices" -- George Walker "Son Of Sam" Bush
              Darcy Burner for WA-08

              by FaithAndReason on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:42:14 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  one does not make (12+ / 0-)

            a 30-40 year investment in new refinery capacity when there is not a 30-40 year supply of more crude to refine.  US refineries all face the same constraint . . . an ever greater percentage of the fixed or declining supply of crude oil is going elsewhere.  There is simply no need for new US refinery capacity . . . what we've got is adequate for all the oil we're going to get from here on out.  If any new refineries do get built they will be in China or India, where an ever increasing portion of the world crude supply is going to go, or in the oil producing countries, who will then ship finished product to the highest bidder (and who are the only ones able to guarantee that crude will be available to those new refineries).

            Even coal conversion projects have no future as investments . . . if we continue increasing the consumption of fossil fuels of any sort we are doomed before the investment pays off.  The ONLY solution is to develope carbon-neutral renewable sources (and to reduce consumption of fossil carbon).  

        •  Well, no... (7+ / 0-)

          Demand is independent of supply. Do you care how many cows there are when you're deciding whether or not you want a burger? Nope. You care about how much you like burgers, and how much a burger costs, and whether that cost is worth it to you, the consumer.

          Yes, normally, when supply goes up, the price does go down (assuming demand does not also increase proportionally for some other reason). However, demand for gas is EXTREMELY inelastic (up to a point, and I don't think we've hit that point yet, based on evidence from other countries who have had $3/gallon gas before).

          I'm willing to concede that there are significant amounts of people that are choosing to bike/walk the two miles, or take a train/bus for the five to ten miles, to get to work when they hadn't done so in the past. In fact, I'd be surprised if that wasn't happening.

          However, this is offset by the numbers of people who cannot or will not use public transportation in any capacity, and by those who live far from where they work and play, where public transportation may be too slow, too confusing, or just plain not there. Once we have an infrastructure in place that allows for fast mass transit across the board, I imagine that the elasticity of gasoline demand will increase. We'll see if we get that infrastructure.

          That was the point of my diary yesterday - instead of Democratic types simply alleging gouging (which is probably happening to some extent), they also need to come up with a robust plan that will get us out of this cycle, for good. And they need to actually act on it. They need to squawk. I don't want to see some lame-ass Biden or Lieberman limping this bill onto some committee table and watch it die.

          •  huh (0+ / 0-)

            I'm willing to concede that there are significant amounts of people that are choosing to bike/walk the two miles, or take a train/bus for the five to ten miles, to get to work when they hadn't done so in the past. In fact, I'd be surprised if that wasn't happening.

            this concedes the whole point of your post. It illustrates demand is NOT independent of supply.

            •  Elasticity comes in degrees over time (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              seaprog, theran, stitchmd

              Short term demand elasticity is almost zero as a result of sunk investments in infrastructure.

              •  what is (0+ / 0-)

                what is short term? a day, week, year?
                You really think inflation plays no effect on demand?  you got to be kidding me.

                The cost of oil runs the gamut through our entire economy. Disposable income is limited.

                I recommend watching the latest CNN presents, and see what the experts predict would happen when prices head to 7 -8 buck a gallon as the use in their model and presentation. Trucking firms shut down, the economy basically comes to a standstill.

                •  Thanks for the Tip (6+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Sharoney, seaprog, theran, stitchmd, mateosf, guachi

                  The next time I design a college-level syllabus on environmental economics or sustainable development and globalization, I'll be sure to put CNN Presents in the bibliography of key sources.

                  Gas is too cheap. Carbon output is destabilizing the entire planet's climate cycle.

                  If a little price-gouging is part of the cost of transition to a more sustainable global civilization, it's an acceptable cost.

                  Unrestrained burning of inexpensive carbon based fuel so that we can buy shoddy plastic crap at
                  Walmart and Mickey D's is simply not an option. Anybody who thinks it is....is a danger to themselves and others, whether they know it or not.

                  •  price (0+ / 0-)

                    price of oil effects EVERYTHING in our economy. Price of goods, products, transportation. Reading from your response I would say you may need to watch and read some more about what "correction: you are asking for.

                    Walmarts and Mickey D's and the likes not withstanding, it is consumerism of such materialism which keeps are economy running.

                    Maybe it is time you leave acedemia and get a real job in the real world.

                    •  And again (4+ / 0-)

                      The oil doesn't care. The oil in inanimate with no properties. It simply is or it is not. As it declines, the price will go up. It will not magically replicate itself.

                      •  I agree (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        jarrrettg

                        I agree, but today oil is. There is plenty of it.  @0 years I agree we have a problem. The crisis will come, but not today. The crisis now is a man made one based on speculation and fear.

                        •  Actually (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          DCFD Rudi

                          Most analysts have estimated the "fear" at being a $10-15 premium per gallon. That would make the present price in a perfect world with everyone singing and holding hands $60-65 bbl. Not exactly cheap.

                          And the total reserves (if you pretend the numbers haven't been faked upwards) are irrelivant. It's how fast you can pump it and get it in action. Venezuela and Canada are sitting on massive reserves...which are in a form (tar sands) which severely limits speed to market. Trying to over pump oil fields damages them and loses oil long run.

                          The point is, you don't have to run out...you have to peak production vs demand. Right now we have less than a 5% margin between supply production and demand consumption. Demand is almost geometric in rate of growth, while even if we suddenly get the tar sands to max production, turned Iraq into the 51st State, and solved the ethic problems of Nigeria, we would only add at total (with existing spare capacity) of ~12%.

                          We over top that rate of supply in less than 5 years. If nothing bad happens, and all the good stuff I described does. Right now.

                          In reality...both good and bad will happen...and we'll be pushing max capacity in about 3 years.

                          •  peak oil already reached (0+ / 0-)

                            In all likelihood, 2005 was the year of maximum possible oil output - it's all downhill from here.

                            A good read on this is James Howard Kustler's The Long Emergency, from which an excerpt was published in Rolling Stone.  Any way you look at it, habits of all inhabitants of earth - expecially the people of the United States - have to change.  Delaying the inevitable only worsens the pain on the other side.

                      •  So Then (0+ / 0-)

                        If the price goes up as it declines....is it declining because the price is up?  How fast is it declining because the price is up quite fast?  

                        He not busy being born is busy dying.

                        by jarrrettg on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 12:29:39 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  Three cheers... (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        theran

                        ....for the INANIMATE CARBON ROD!

                        And agreed: people are anthropomorphizing this stuff far too much.

                    •  Boom boom, ain't it great to be crazy? (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      stitchmd

                      Walmarts and Mickey D's and the likes not withstanding, it is consumerism of such materialism which keeps our economy running

                      straight into the ground.

                      Are you really saying that we should have a public policy which supports such destructive behavior?

                      "I hear the voices" -- George Walker "Son Of Sam" Bush
                      Darcy Burner for WA-08

                      by FaithAndReason on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:47:31 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  ps (0+ / 0-)

                    ps. thanks for the unneccesary troll rating on an above post.  Tells me all I need to know about you.

            •  Not quite... (0+ / 0-)

              You're confusing supply with cost. Yes, reduced supply tends to increase the cost. Yes, the cost is increasing. The thing is, individual demand may fall, but what matters in an economy is aggregate demand. (Go back to the burgers - if you're Sonic, do you care if 20 million people buy one burger a week, or 2 million people buy ten a week?) Aggregate demand, in our economy as well as the world economy, has not fallen in  response to higher crude costs. Will it? I don't think so. Perhaps globally there could be a sneeze, but only in countries where there's an alternative.

              My overall point is that in addition to angrily pointing out the obvious, Democrats need to come up with an alternative. Rightly or wrongly, we're perceived as not having alternatives on lots of issues (see Kerry's 2004 position on the war, and why Kerry lost - no, that's not intended as a flame). Let's prove that perception wrong.

          •  Complex Supply/Demand Dynamics (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            seaprog

            When I learned that sturgeon were endangered, I stopped eating caviar (their eggs). PETA could tell you a lot about demand for endangered animals dropping - once people in the market learn about it.

            Conversely, any marketer could tell you a lot about the power of "while supplies last" to create demand. Or labeling something "rare", even if it's an easily duplicated recording. Then there's the "dime a dozen" effect that turns people off to "commodity" goods.

            Value is based on the perceived scarcity of a product. Cost is based on value. High value increases demand, high cost inhibits demand. Supply and demand are complexly interconnected, like every human activity.

            "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

            by DocGonzo on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:34:01 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  True... (0+ / 0-)

              But in a way I see a lot of those as non-economic. You stopped eating caviar for a (very good and valid) moral reason. Same with PETA.

              As for creating rarity to create demand, that's more economic than the previous examples, but marketers must make the rarity mean something positive for it to work. We think diamonds are good because we think they're rare (they're not, at least not naturally), but tongue sandwiches are also rare, and demand for them is, uh, not growing.

              To get back to oil, it's rather unlikely anyone would actually want to consume more oil simply because there's less of it. Yeah, we pay a premium for scarce goods - but only for ones that have relatively high demand. We need to reduce that demand by making viable alternatives, or making existing alternatives more easily available.

              •  It's All Economics (0+ / 0-)

                I stopped eating caviar because I didn't want to use it up. I wanted to ease off. Even though other people might perceive the increased scarcity, and eat it more before it went extinct forever.

                The persistent success of "going out of business" and "while supplies last" or "one to a customer" synthetic shortages (perception manufactured without an actual shortage) shows that the economic adage of value based on perceived scarcity is true - not necessarily the actual scarcity, if it isn't perceived, nor the earlier demand - though of course the "relative" demand must exceed the perceived relative supply. The value of tongue sandwiches is influenced more by their disgusting connotations, than by their relative rarity. Otherwise they'd be as expensive as oysters.

                As for oil, I personally am driving a sports car (with high MPG, though) because I'll miss the fun of internal combustion when the gas is gone. I know many others must also be doing so.

                All of those perceptions and behaviors are the mechanics that economics merely describes in macro. They're all "economic", because they are measured in money.

                "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

                by DocGonzo on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 07:19:01 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Demand is not 'independent' of supply ... (0+ / 0-)

            if we throw in price for many products.  As prices increase, demand will change (varying degrees for varying products).  If prices fall, demand will also change -- generally increase ...

            9/11/05, Day 1469, A count worth keeping? Or, Osama Bin Forgotten?

            by besieged by bush on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 02:10:20 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Refineries (8+ / 0-)

          You are correct, sir.  Here is a fact sheet from citizen.org regarding refining capacity in the US.

          Fact: Oil companies have exploited their strong market position to intentionally restrict refining capacity by driving smaller, independent refiners out of business. A congressional investigation uncovered internal memos written by the major oil companies operating in the U.S. discussing their successful strategies to maximize profits by forcing independent refineries out of business, resulting in tighter refinery capacity. From 1995-2002, 97% of the more than 920,000 barrels of oil per day of capacity that have been shut down were owned and operated by smaller, independent refiners. Were this capacity to be in operation today, refiners could use it to better meet today’s reformulated gasoline blend needs.

          •  5%? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            milton333, Alexander G Rubio

            Oil Consumption (2005F) 20.8 million barrels per day (Department of Energy)

            Yes, refineries would help somewhat (assuming oil companies would respond to laissez-faire economic forces, which are sort of rare in the oil biz). But only 5% (actually, more like 4%) of our oil use can be accounted for by the "missing" 927,000 barrels per day of capacity.

            Now, I have a problem assuming that exactly 20.8 million barrels per day of oil are refined by our refineries. There had to have been some slack, otherwise the 927,000 barrels we no longer refine would cause a shortage (not as in "higher prices", but as in "people will have to do without because there simply isn't enough"). I don't think I'm explaining myself well, but do you see what I mean?

            I don't doubt that the big boys would like to have control of what's going on. What I doubt is that it's making all that much of a difference. Gouging is probably there, collusion is probably there, but the major force is simply that people want more of something that, even theoretically, there cannot be more of.

            •  so (0+ / 0-)

              so exxon mobile and their counter parts just got lucky making the largest corporate yearly profits in the history of the us last year?  pleasee  this is just big oil fucking over the us citizen.  Nothing more, nothing less.   There is no difference in supply and oil reserves than there was when gas was 1.20 a gallon.

              •  Um, yes there is (7+ / 0-)

                And I don't know how you've missed ALL of Jerome's diaries on this.  Demand is up worldwide because of the growth in China etc, and supply is not growing, and indeed oil production may possibly be close to peaking.

                Look, we get it, you hate Exxon, we all hate higher prices, but this isn't exactly a conspiracy.  It's supply and demand.

                •  Not just China (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  seaprog

                  demand in the US keeps going up and up, every year, despite the increase in prices.

                  Whether this is due to inelastic demand, or to the idea that we deserve cheap gas, we're doing this to ourselves.

                  •  Not sure about inelastic demand (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    jarrrettg

                    Just saw the latest numbers for Germany 2005 compared to 2004 (Source oil cooperations in Germany).
                    Sales for all sorts of "gasoline" down 6% including:
                    Unleaded: - 11%
                    Premium:  - 15%
                    Diesel:   -  1%
                    Biodiesel:+ (percentage unknown)
                    Kerosine: +  6%

                    Sales for all sorts of "gasoline" went down 25% from 1999 to 2005.

                •  this current (0+ / 0-)

                  this current crisis has very little to do with china. The supply is there.  The price of oil is based on speculation in the market.

                  the speculation is based on fear of war, weather, and unrest.  The fear is that refineries will be knocked off line. It is the fact that even if one or 2 big refineries go down, a real crisis will hit.
                  The lack of refineries is at the heart of this problem.  

                  •  I believe the level of fear (0+ / 0-)

                    and unrest internationally is heighted by apprehension about what actions the US may next undertake.  There doesn't seem to be a clear line in the sand anymore.

                    The truth always matters.

                    by texasmom on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:34:00 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  The supply is there. (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    seaprog, theran, kd texan

                    "There"? Where? And you know this how? I have found plenty of online sources contradicting this statment, but you keep saying it.

                    Cite, please.

                    There is but one surefire way to vanquish conservatives, and that is to beat the shit out of them."--David Podvin

                    by Sharoney on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:53:34 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                      •  All Non-OPECS (6+ / 0-)

                        are currently in various rates of decline and many oil industry experts have concluded that several of the major OPEC producers are probably in decline as well but this is difficult to know because they don't release their actual reserve figures.  This is especially true of the Saudis who are very secretive about whats left in the ground.

                        What is known is that the Saudis are using water injection to keep production levels stable.  If they're at that stage it means that the field is at least at the halfway point.

                        One indication of where several well exploited middle eastern fields may be came this year when Kuwait annouced declines at the Burgan field.

                        The onshore Burgan Field in the desert of southeastern Kuwait is one of the world's largest and richest oil fields. After its discovery in February, 1938, the USA & UK owned Gulf Oil Corporation began commercial oil production at Burgan in 1946. Kabeer Burgan, is so rich that it is one of the world's easiest production sites. There are no rising and falling oil derricks at Burgan like the ones seen at other oil fields. That is because oil practically flows to the surface on its own. Burgan has helped Kuwait become one of the largest oil exporters on the planet. Burgan accounts for more than half of Kuwait's proven oil reserves.

                        In November 2005, Farouk Al Zanki, Chairman of state-owned Kuwait Oil, reported that the Burgan oil field production levels are running down. Burgan will now produce 1.7 mbpd rather than 2 mbpd for the rest of its 30 to 40 years. He said that engineers had tried to maintain 1.9 million barrels per day but that 1.7 million is the optimum rate.

                        If Burgan is in decline then it is likely that the rest of the fields in the area will follow shortly as they were all put online in roughly the same period of time following WWII.  This news was a major factor leading to an upward swing in oil prices.

                        (if by "criminalization of politics" you mean politics being taken over by criminals, you are absolutely correct)

                        by Drezden on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:00:49 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Thank you, Drezden. (4+ / 0-)

                          Also, water injection, when pushed past its recommended limit, can permanently render what usable oil may be left in the ground useless. If the Saudis are letting their greed get ahead of their common sense and the advice of their geologists, they may be killing the golden goose, all in an effort to keep the flow going and not reveal the decline to their customers -- or their competitors.

                          There is but one surefire way to vanquish conservatives, and that is to beat the shit out of them."--David Podvin

                          by Sharoney on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:20:43 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                        •  I also love how (0+ / 0-)

                          the public domain document "Strategic Significance of America's Oil Shale Resource Volume I Assessment of Strategic Issues," which has a graph showing what Drezden said in the first sentence of the post, has "disappeared from the US Department of Energy website." What a coinkidink.

                          Like the Saudis, the DOE wants to do what it can to keep the public in the dark about the state of the worldwide oil supply.

                          If "the supply is there," then why hide this info?

                          There is but one surefire way to vanquish conservatives, and that is to beat the shit out of them."--David Podvin

                          by Sharoney on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 05:59:05 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                  •  Yes, there is currently lots of supply.... (0+ / 0-)

                    And the same number of barrels pumped out of the ground per day, if not more, than there were five years ago (Iraq may make this statement untrue, but at least theoretically that's a short-run supply disruption due to political, not supply chain, reasons). Supply is half of the equation. You're either not acknowledging or not caring about three other points, though:

                    1. Supply cannot substantially increase. There are no more significant reserves of oil left in the world that aren't currently being exploited. Several major oil producers (Such as the US, Syria, most North Sea oil countries, and others) either have peaked decades ago, or are about to peak pretty soon. I have a NYTimes map illustrating oil pressures by country - a few Middle Eastern nations are about to become net oil importers. In other words, the sources are about to need outside sources.
                    1. Supply has no choice but to decrease. As nations peak (or as already-peaked nations acknowledge their peaking) this necessarily means that less oil will be pumped out of the ground per day.
                    1. Amid stagnant or falling supply, demand continues (and domestically, without Democrats making an alternative apparent) to rise. Globally, the economy keeps getting bigger, which means we have more things to haul around, and also that people no longer want/need to walk or bike to work anymore. In other words, other countries are in small steps beginning to enjoy the prosperity that we've had for quite a while now. And we're sure as hell not giving up our cars without a fight (why would we? We don't have a transit plan worth speaking of), so demand all over is rising.

                    Falling supply, steady demand means a rise in prices.
                    Steady supply, rising demand means a rise in prices.
                    Falling supply, rising demand means Democrats better do something before we're honestly stuck with high transportation costs.

                    As an aside, many people have called for a gas tax to fund mass transit infrastructure. They look to Europe as an analogy, thinking that it will work the same way. It won't. The American economy depends much more on shipping things across the continent. We have larger suppliers in single locations, whereas most other countries have a more diffused supply chain.

                    Furthermore, we have a much more rural population than most other industrialized countries. In the West and Plains, you can drive hundreds of miles without seeing a city of more than 50,000 people, and that's along interstates, which intentionally service urban zones. This is why, in addition to mass transit/land use improvements, we need to continue research into efficient, inexpensive fuel for personal vehicles.

                    This is why, in my original post, I was pissed at bloggers for laughing at Bush for his alleged pie-in-the-sky insistence on fuel cells. Yes, I understand the technology isn't there yet. But Jesus, let's get it going. When Bush started talking about fuel cells in SOTU, I was confused as hell, and even madder that we didn't make noise about it first. Now it seems with high gas prices staring us in the face, we want a very serious and scary-sounding investigation into whether it indeed is true that gas prices are rising and, as it appears, oil companies may be receiving increased revenues as a result? Like I said, that's step one. We can do more, and we can do better, and we need to do it now.

          •  Refineries used to stockpile gasoline (6+ / 0-)

            Refineries used to stockpile gasoline to avoid shortages during the summer driving season.  At some point they realized that you can profit more by promoting shortages than avoiding them.  The additive situation is another handy excuse for raising prices.

            Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick himself up and continue on. --Winston Churchill

            by rmwarnick on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:08:14 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Actually ... (0+ / 0-)

              Somewhat differently ... entire economy has moved ever more into just-in-time supplies.  IT advances enabled this.  Problem is that if there is physical disruption, of some sort, preventing your supplier from delivering, then there can be (serious) spot shortages.

              This happened with heating oil in Maine in the late 1990s when a river froze over.  It had frozen before without crises ... what had changed was that suppliers had moved from physical reserves to fiscal ones.

              9/11/05, Day 1469, A count worth keeping? Or, Osama Bin Forgotten?

              by besieged by bush on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 02:13:25 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  A lot of them were shut down (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sam I Am, guachi

            because the smaller independents couldn't afford to pay for required environmental upgrades.  And why couldn't they afford to pay for them?  Because refining margins were too low to make enough money.

        •  Silly (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sharoney, seaprog, kd texan, hypersphere01

          Big Oil does compete against itself. If refinery supply was trully the problem, independent suppliers or a member of 'big oil' would build new refieries in order to gain an advantage.

          The problem is not 'Big Oil'. There would be no prostitutes without the Johns.

          Sponge Bob, Mandrake, Cartoons. That's how your hard-core islamahomocommienazis work.

          by Benito on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 09:52:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  wrong (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            means are the ends

            big oil bought out all the small refiners, and big oil has not built a refinery in decades.  Increased supply just doesn't make sense in their current profit models

            •  not wrong (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              seaprog, besieged by bush, kd texan

              New refineries are not being built because there is no guaranteed supply of crude for the life of the investment.  Any capacity added now will sit idle in 10-20 years (if not sooner) . . . far too soon to justify the investment.

              On the other hand, the entire non-commercial motor vehicle fleet gets replace every 15-20 years anyway, so there is NO extra cost imposed by requiring that all vehicles sold get better than, say, 40 mpg. The reduction of consumption would begin immediately, and there would be no need for new refineries not only because of supply limits, but because of reduced demand as well.

              •  Pissedpatriot has been told this (6+ / 0-)

                multiple times on this diary, and his response is to put his hands over his ears and say, "You're wrong! You're wrong! You're wrong!"

                Short-term solutions to long-term problems won't help two or three decades down the road. And no amount of saying "Oil companies bad!" will change that.

                BIg Oil may be artificially inflating prices in the short term. If what you're selling is running out worldwide, hell, why not gouge people? Why not make your money now? Because the time will come when you'll have to charge them high prices just to make any profit, or just to stay in business.

                The oil barons are beginning to develop solar and wind divisions. They see the handwriting on the wall, and since they can't monopolize the sun, they're going to try to monopolize (and centralize, whenever possible) the distribution of technology for solar and wind. When that happens, you can kiss getting an off-the-shelf wind or solar kit from anyone other than Big Oil goodbye.

                There is but one surefire way to vanquish conservatives, and that is to beat the shit out of them."--David Podvin

                by Sharoney on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 12:01:00 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Let's at least agree on the gouging then (0+ / 0-)

                  "If what you're selling is running out worldwide, hell, why not gouge people? Why not make your money now?"

                  How about because it threatens are national security?

                  He not busy being born is busy dying.

                  by jarrrettg on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 12:20:15 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  national security (0+ / 0-)

                    you think firms, oil or otherwise, give a tinker's damn about national security?

                    But, how are high oil prices and expensive gas somehow a threat to 'national security'?

                    Sponge Bob, Mandrake, Cartoons. That's how your hard-core islamahomocommienazis work.

                    by Benito on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:40:20 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  National security? (0+ / 0-)

                    Of course it threatens national security, if by that you mean the security of elected officials.  As for the rest of us, we are all free to adjust our lifestyle to face the new economic realities, or of course just bitch and moan and beg for the gov't to bail us out.

                    "I hear the voices" -- George Walker "Son Of Sam" Bush
                    Darcy Burner for WA-08

                    by FaithAndReason on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:51:59 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  excuse (0+ / 0-)

                  excuse me I am nor ever been talking about solutions in this thread. I am talking about causes of this current bullshit crisis. Oil cmpanies and speculators are to blame. There is no crisis at this moment. What don't you get?

                  Solutions are right in front of us. Higher mileage cars, solar homes, etc.  I think you have missed my entire piont in my post.

                  Yes someday there will be a supply/demand crisis, april 2006 is not it.

              •  In what way? (0+ / 0-)

                You assert

                New refineries are not being built because there is no guaranteed supply of crude for the life of the investment.

                Really.  I think it took me 30 seconds to find http://www.eyeforenergy.com/... a major expansion to an existing refinery.  No "new" refineries will probably ever be built.  Plenty of expansion of old refineries and maybe a restart or two, but a brand new refinery on US soil is more of a function of long environmental fights than anything else (NIMBY).

                Any capacity added now will sit idle in 10-20 years (if not sooner)

                The oldest and smallest refineries will be the first offline.  As has been the case since the '80's.

                The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.

                by deathsinger on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 12:42:46 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  shuffling deck chairs (0+ / 0-)

                  Marathon plans to expand one refinery, while shutting down, or preparing to shut down, another.  Where is the crude for this "expansion" going to come from?  Which other existing facility (Marathon, Marathon/Ashland joint venture, other) doesn't get it?

                  Older and smaller refineries get shut down, and the newer refineries run at higher capacity (and may even see modest expansion) to take up the slack.  But overall there's no new capacity, because there's no new crude source to refine.  There is consolidation of capacity, though, to lower costs.

                  •  I am not sure what you are trying to say (0+ / 0-)

                    But overall there's no new capacity, because there's no new crude source to refine.

                    Are you saying that demand in the US is likely to fall because of sustained high cost of oil?

                    The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.

                    by deathsinger on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:59:22 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I'm saying that crude oil is being rationed now (0+ / 0-)

                      by the World Market, and that the US share is not going to get any bigger.  The "bottleneck" is not refineries, it is the pipeline to the refineries, and regardless short term fluctuations the long term prognosis is . . . no additional crude in the pipeline, trending toward less . . .

                      But yes, the resulting high cost will (eventually) reduce US demand . . . (and that will reduce even further the pressure on US refineries).  The rest of the world will, however, pick up the "demand slack", until they too switch to more sustainable fuel sources.  In any case the free ride is over . . .

          •  Where? (0+ / 0-)

            I agree with some of this arguement, but even if a company wanted to build a new refinery, it would take 20 years to get through all the environmental, legal, and other processes just to get from the drawing board to reality.

            Most agree that additional refining capacity would help, nobody wants it in their backyard.

            Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner. --James Bovard

            by awnm on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:26:16 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  20 Years to Life (0+ / 0-)

              The reality is that refineries cost the public way too much in health and other costs. Those environmental and legal limits are the result of decades of refineries poisoning us. When refineries are designed not to kill us, it will be OK to reduce the limits, or just quickly meet them. And we won't mind those monstrosities built in our backyards. Until then, 20 years is too quick, when they're spent weaseling out of the limits.

              "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

              by DocGonzo on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:45:11 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  As supply goes up... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bam101

          demand goes down?

          How is that economics 101?

          "He not busy being born is busy dying" - It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)

          by chicagochamp on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 09:56:32 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Increased supply does not (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          seaprog, milton333

          mean decreased demand.  It should result in lower prices, but not lowered demand unless people are stockpiling gas.

        •  there is a high degree of (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          seaprog, Moli, stitchmd

          inelasticity built into the petroleum market.  Gov 't, school buses, trash pick up, police, etc.  So supply changes aren't as effective as a limit on prices as in other types of goods.  Anyway, there isn't any cheap crude left, so new refineries will not do anything anyway.  
          the economics are in place, and have been for a couple of years fo bio diesel, ethanol, and the Beazilian solution.  let's face it, oil is too valuable to burn, even excluding the environmental downside.

          Patriotism may be the last refuge of scoundrels, but religion is assuredly the first.

          by StrayCat on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:03:48 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Supply can't go up indefinitely. (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          seaprog, theran, kd texan, CharlieHipHop

          The reason big oil hasn't built a refinery in decades is the fact that tight supply allows their profit margin to go through the roof.  Big oil doesn't give a fuck about anyone or anything but their profits.

          No one is saying that either of those statements isn't true. But that doesn't contradict the fact that oil companies know the supply is on a downward curve (their engineers and geologists are in the business of finding new supplies, and if they just told their bosses good news instead of what they can expect down the road they'd quickly be out of a job (unlike the Bush Administration, which only wants to hear good news!)  and are therefore loath to invest in infrastructure they won't need.

          The fact that this situation also creates a bottleneck at the refining stage is just the cherry on the sundae, profits-wise. But the significant issue is that there are no plans to build new refineries, which indicates that these companies anticipate a downturn in crude.

          There is but one surefire way to vanquish conservatives, and that is to beat the shit out of them."--David Podvin

          by Sharoney on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:44:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Actually ... (0+ / 0-)

          The demand does not go down as supply goes up ... that is not a correct correlation ... if supply increases faster than demand, then prices should fall.  As prices fall, typically demand will change somewhat (increase).  

          9/11/05, Day 1469, A count worth keeping? Or, Osama Bin Forgotten?

          by besieged by bush on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 02:08:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Econ 101 for people who know math (0+ / 0-)

          The reason big oil hasn't built a refinery in decades is the fact that tight supply allows their profit margin to go through the roof.

          These courses for people who don't know any math must suck.  The profit margin isn't the interesting quantity; the total expected profit is.  I've never even taken economics, but this much is fairly clear.  Do economics departments not teach this in introductory classes?

          If selling into a much larger market doesn't look more profitable, then the refinery is too expensive and the market isn't going to stay larger for long because of finite supply.

          If you think you're that far ahead, then get the chips in the middle of the table!

          by theran on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 05:45:01 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Extreme commuters (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        seaprog, theran

        Newsweek's latest has an article on extreme commuters, those folks commuting 90 minutes or more each way to work, and the exurban exodus that leads people to "leapfrog" to ever more distant suburbs, even as some jobs move out to the original suburbs. Nary a mention of skyrocketing gas prices inducing any rationality there.

        -5.88, -6.31 | Can money pay for all the days I lived awake/ But half asleep?

        by milton333 on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:49:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Great diary ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CharlieHipHop

      You diary on stop playing politics with gas prices was very good -- RECOMMENDED (too late on diary, but do so here).

      I think that you are absolutely right that if Democrats get elected screaming about $3 gallon gas in 2006 that they will face serious problems when it is $4 or $5 in 2008.  And, that rhetorhic places them in a bad position for considering all options as to how to create a new energy future and how to finance those new energy paths.

      9/11/05, Day 1469, A count worth keeping? Or, Osama Bin Forgotten?

      by besieged by bush on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 02:05:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is REALLY Important! (8+ / 0-)

    I hadn't thought about the issue this way.  You make a very pragmatic argument.  In my experience a lot of pro environment arguments are either pie-in-the-sky or elitist/condescending to peole who aren't on board to the sustainable/green world view.

    I am feeling pretty inspired by this diary to think up a way to bring this issue to my workplace and community.

    Thanks!  

  •  I've been saying something like this (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Porfiry, mateosf, Unduna

    for ages. But you said it so much more clearly. Thanks.

    Walking. It's the new driving.

    by Batfish on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 09:21:22 AM PDT

  •  And that $400 million Exxon (8+ / 0-)

    retirement package represents only one dollar off every barrel of oil sold in one day.

    Hardly makes a dent right?

    •  True (7+ / 0-)

      and the whole problem of CEO salaries, not limited to the oil companies, needs to be dealt with for oh so many reasons.

      That, however, does not change the fact that there is a limited supply of oil; we have an unregulated, irrational market; and we have done nothing to change our behavior. In fact, by developing the exurbs, eschewing public transportation, and driving behemoths that the average person, or even far below average, person (or above, either) has no reason to be driving, we've put ourselves in this state of inelastic demand that allows the oil companies to get as much out of us as they can or wish.

      They have us over a barrel, so to speak.

  •  agree (8+ / 0-)

    We need carbon tax set to maximize revenues to government, use proceeds to fund needed alternative energy systems.

  •  endless supplies (2+ / 0-)

    What happens when we have a source of energy that is free and plentiful and not harmful to the Earth?  

    •  big (5+ / 0-)

      big oil will buy the patent and shelve it.

    •  if that happens (3+ / 0-)
      What happens when we have a source of energy that is free and plentiful and not harmful to the Earth?  

      If that ever happens, everybody gets a pony.

      Seriously, though, if anyone figures out how to make cold fusion work, or how to tap into zero-point energy, or how to set up a connection to Satan's infinite methane supply, it'll be a happy day ... and probably the start of several very crazy decades as the entire socio-political structure of the planet (and vicinity) undergoes massive changes.

      Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.

      by Bearpaw on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 09:50:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Really? Happy? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        StrayCat

        It seems to me we might not know how to use restraint in the use of free energy.

        •  right (4+ / 0-)
          It seems to me we might not know how to use restraint in the use of free energy.

          Right.  That's why I followed it up with "... and probably the start of several very crazy decades ...".  Perhaps I should have said "very crazy and very probably dangerous decades".  

          Given the choice, though ... well, it'd depend on the specifics, but I'd prefer having free energy despite the drawbacks.  After all, it's looking like we may have some crazy and dangerous decades coming anyway.

          Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.

          by Bearpaw on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:24:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Tell me about it (0+ / 0-)

          While I pine for the idea of cold-fusion, the entire world economy is based ultimately on control of the energy supply. Free energy, while the only hope for the continuation of our species would also collapse the entire substructure upon which our current society rests - not a bad thing mind you, but it could be brutal as those with the power and the wealth try to maintain their former position.

    •  That's more of an (0+ / 0-)

      if, than a when.

    •  We do (0+ / 0-)

      It's called the sun.  More solar energy hits the surface of the earth in a 24-hour period than will be extracted in the entire history of the crude technology of burning hydrocarbons.  If we had focused on turning solar energy (which includes wind, by the way) into work instead of continuing the utter stupidity of hydrocarbons and nukes, we might actually get somewhere.  Unfortunately, the window of opportunity has closed there.  The energy input to a sane energy economy has been burnt up in the tanks of idiots' SUVs.  We've eaten our seed corn.

      Kick back and watch the fun as our "civilization" crumbles around us.  Even though it's gonna suck, I will take some smug pleasure in having been right for the past 30 years.  Fuck all the stupid fucks who brought us past the point of no return.  They deserve what they're about to get.  

  •  take Exxon by emminent domain! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    libnewsie, means are the ends

    And Let George Bush run it. Take Halliburton as well and give it to Cheney...make them pay all profits back to the US treasury until the defict they ran up is paid off.

    I'm kidding on the square ;-)

  •  You're primarily correct. (7+ / 0-)

    The oil companies do not set the price, and are not gouging in any real way.

    However, the price of oil does not reflect a real supply shortage or an incredible demand increase.  It reflects speculation as the future supply distruption.  This (ridiculously) accounts for up to 50% of the current price of oil.  

    That's the reason you saw the huge ramp up in prices with the invasion of Iraq.  That's why tensions with Iran are sending prices higher, without a drop of oil being taken of the market.

    I really wonder if we're not going to see a price crash.  So far, the mechanism for such a crash has been lacking... so far.

    •  I have wondered (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DelRPCV, Geotpf, bustacap, stagemom, StrayCat

      if some of the sturm und drang around the Iran situation isn't a way to drive up these prices, based on irrational behavior.

      Also, we must remember that this administration has been filling the strategic oil reserves at a higher rate than seen before. This only helps to prop up prices, by taking a portion of limited supply off line. And diverting taxes back to the oil companies (who'da thunk it?)

      Nevertheless, given our inability as a society to deal with our oil appetite, having a decent reserve is probably not a bad idea at this point in time.

      •  The more noise they (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Geotpf, kd texan, Pam from Calif, StrayCat

        make about nuking Iran, the higher the price of gas.

        All they have to do is now stop threatening the middle east, and gas prices will relax (somewhat, and temporarily).  In the meantime, they get to remove tons of environmental controls...

        Damn, I'm turning into a tin-foil-hat person.

        -9.25, -7.54

        I have little use for ponies, but much use for beers.

        by Marc in KS on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:01:18 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The noise isn't only from the US... (0+ / 0-)

          If the US backed down, it would only help part of it.  Iran's nuclear ambitions threaten the stability of the area as a whole, regardless of US involvement.

          •  But we're the only (0+ / 0-)

            one threatening to nuke the place.  Israel wouldn't do it, and they're the only other country in the region that threatens Iran.  

            I just think that we don't need to be rattling nuclear sabres.  After our freakazoid invasion of Iraq, people get jittery that we just might do it.  (And lord knows, we just might.)

            -9.25, -7.54

            I have little use for ponies, but much use for beers.

            by Marc in KS on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:55:02 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  You nailed it (15+ / 0-)

    right on.  One point I somewhat differ from you on is the rise of gas at the pumps (from $2.69 to 3.15 in less then a week at my local station), that rise is pure profit, and gouging as the gas being pumped was bought and processed at the "old" price, not what the market has today.

    Having said that, everything else you state is right on.  Today Bush, that great "uniter" stated that the party he wasn't a member of has created this mess.  Yep, when the problem lands at his feet he blames democrats (go figure.)

    The GOP talking points are WAY off on this, drill more? for what? Oil? Using MORE of something that is in short supply isn't going to help us, as you state.  Further this administration REFUSED to put in higher CAFTA limits, instead encouraging the purchase of larger and larger cars (using MORE and MORE gas) by American Consumers.

    The policies of this adminstration have no future in a world where oil isn't going to be there for us to use, rather we must start to DEMAND change: bio fuels, more energy saving appliances, no new homes built without tankless waterheaters, making smaller and more fuel effient cars and on and on.

    Another thing that should be done: street lights:  Why can't we start to retrofit ALL street lights with LED lights and solar power to run them at night?   If they dim, then they can pull the electricty (imagine the jobs this alone would create.)

    Thank you, GREAT diary.

    •  Agree (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      melo, bustacap, besieged by bush

      Clearly, this is not going to be solved over night and without behavioral changes and some pain.  We have been headed in the wrong direction for quite a while after a brief awakening following the 1973 Arab oil embargo (move to smaller cars, concerns about energy efficiency).  But Bush has had over 5 years to lead with  genuine energy policy initiatives that include both conservation and supporting development of alternatives.  And, of course, we know how highly Cheney regards the conservation part of the problem:

      "To speak exclusively of conservation is to duck the tough issues. Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue, but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy," stated Vice President Dick Cheney in an April 30 speech on the President's National Energy Policy.

      Cheney was just too damn busy focused on those "tough issues" and poring over those Iraq oil field maps with Kenny Boy and friends back in 2001.

  •  This debate has been interesting to watch (22+ / 0-)

    I agree with the diarist; I think this is a great argument. Puts a lot of it into perspective.

    My spouse and I have been saying, every time that some "news" report comes on about the "crisis at the gas pump," that we are acting as if cheap gas is our right, and behaving like spoiled brats when it's 'taken away' from us.

    Given some of the comments along these lines from people on this site, as well as others over time, I have come to realize that even many people who describe themselves as progressives are working hard, dancing as fast as they can, to maintain the status quo. This is not limited to Kossacks, however; I've heard similar comments in my community.

    (Troll rate away, if you must.)

    Fact is, the costs are just starting to catch up. The rate of increased demand is far outstripping the rate of new discoveries. Sure, there is a shortage of refineries; however, given the time delay and costs associated with new refinery development, it won't do anything to alleviate prices. And there have been a lot of forces against new refinery development for a number of years, not the least of which has been NIMBYism.

    I have to admit, I haven't changed my behaviors much; but then again, my spouse and I saw this coming down the pike several years ago. We chose not to live out in the suburbs, we drive smaller cars, we limit our driving as much as possible. If I could drive less, I would, but with small children to get to school and activities, and time limits to get to work, it's not feasible. And it's a REALLY steep hill to go up to take them to school on a bike.

    So I'm paying the price, and recognize it.

  •  drilling for oil under the National Cathedral (12+ / 0-)

    they are always coming after the Episcopalians.  They hate us for our freedom.

    Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D. IMPEACH!

    by TrueBlueMajority on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 09:31:50 AM PDT

  •  Get A Hybrid? (22+ / 0-)
    Get over it?

    Fuck you.

    I am sick to the teeth of upper middle class urban dwellers who probably already ride their fucking bike everywhere because they CAN - telling me to get over it.

    I have to drive for work.

    I have to drive to GET to work.

    I have to drive to get food for my kids.

    We don't live within biking distance and we can't afford a hybrid.

    And your solution is to tell me to get a hybrid - to get over it?

    Having gotten that rant off my chest, I agree with your point regarding Detroit.  If they don't come up with more fuel efficient cars soon then the Japanese will beat them to the punch - again.

    Not that I'll be able to afford one any time soon.  Someone has to run up about 60 - 100,000 miles on something before we can afford to buy it used.

    I'm not stupid - I know peak oil is coming but when people tell me to get over it or go further into debt to buy a new car it makes me angry beyond belief.

    The arrogance and elitism around here is astounding.  For a group of so-called enlightened progressives you people sure as hell don't have much compassion for working families barely getting by.

    Bloggin' with a bar of soap and my car window IMPEACH -8.75 / -6.10

    by Alegre on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 09:32:13 AM PDT

    •  Seriously - My Rant (6+ / 0-)

      was mainly directed at the get over it comment.

      I'm so tired of being broke - and all some people have to offer is for me to buy a hybrid - or to get over it.

      Bloggin' with a bar of soap and my car window IMPEACH -8.75 / -6.10

      by Alegre on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 09:34:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My sympathy (10+ / 0-)

        As one of those urban dwellers, I know that I can sound unsympathetic to people in your situation. I'm not. I know that my city-dwelling blue-state life gives me certain choices not available to all.

        There are limited choices, to be sure. Why are the choices limited? IMO, because the people in power have worked hard to limit our choices. They made it easier and more appealing, in many ways, to live in the suburbs than in the cities. Look at public education, for example. In almost every urban area, the surrounding suburban schools far outperform the urban ones. Why? Many reasons, of course, including racism, fear, etc, but one you cannot deny is the underfunding of aging infrastructure and the school systems themselves. So it becomes more appealing to live outside the urban areas, because it's the right thing to do for your family.

        I also know, for example, many people who live in the burbs here in the Baltimore/Washington region because one partner goes one way and one goes the other for work. Again, lack of decent employment for both in one place or another drives this choice. And lack of decent jobs in urban centers for lower-skilled workers is another factor.

        Costs associated with being required to drive for work are very difficult to deal with (I don't mean to sound patronizing.) It's not easy to recapture those costs without some loss of business, and that's the worry about how this increased fuel cost will affect business.

        And for people in rural areas, there are really no other options.

        Really, I do feel for you. As I said in a previous comment, the oil companies do have us over a barrel.

        •  Blue-state life (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          stitchmd

          I know that my city-dwelling blue-state life gives me certain choices not available to all.

          Then again, I'm assuming your blue-state city-dwelling life was ALSO the result of a choice - maybe you made a prescient choice to live in the city because you anticipated higher gas prices or maybe you made that choice for completely unrelated reasons, but either way you did have a choice. We all have choices. Except for maybe the homeless and mentally insane. And minor children.

          conscientious objector in the battle of the sexes.

          by plymouth on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:05:40 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That was my choice (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            plymouth

            My spouse and I made this a conscious choice; I had said this in another comment. There are limitations in making this choice; there are always trade-offs.

            •  $ / SQ FT vs. gas prices (0+ / 0-)

              Yeah, and I'm sure in whatever city you live in, the dollary per square foot for wherever you live is markedly higher than in the surrounding suburbs.

              There are trade offs to living in either place.

              It's a "partial repeal of the First Amendment" not a "flag burning" amendment.

              by MRL on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:27:40 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  trade off of costs (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                MRL, theran, plymouth

                There are increased costs to living in Baltimore City. We have an old, drafty house rather than a new, sealed one. Had to spend lots to get storm windows last year, but didn't pay much more in fuel costs as a result.

                We pay higher taxes per lot area. I would argue that we're making this up now in gas costs.

                We have fewer choices in schools, but live in an area where we can send our kid to the local public school.

                I don't spend hours a day on the beltway. That's a cost saving I am more than happy about.

                And I'm not contributing to increased emissions in the air as much as I would living in the suburbs. I fill the tank in my Subaru twice a month, if that.

                It has been a conscious choice. We live with known higher costs, but lower hidden costs. We're happy with that decision. Nothing is without cost.

      •  one of the things (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sharoney, melo, bustacap, skptk

        that progressives have to do is develop sound proposals to address this issue.  As I said in VirginiaBelle's diary yesterday, we have to make changes in our energy policies and usage, but it cannot be at the expense of those who have already borne the brunt of our wrong-headed policies.

        We need to raise the fuck out of taxes on corporations.  We need to impose huge penalties for moving their "headquarters" off-shore to escape US taxes.  We need to go back to a pre-JFK level tax burden on the uber-wealthy.

        Then we need to provide huge tax incentives to use public transit (where available) or to buy hybrids.  We need to invest in development of alternative energy and we need to invest in development of mechanisms for modifying existing cars/trucks to use alternative forms of energy.  Then we need to subsidize that transition to modified cars/trucks for the poor/working classes.  

        There are more informed and brighter minds out there than mine--what else can we do to shift to a wise, sustainable energy policy, while limiting the punitive effect of such a shift on the lower/working classes?

        Do not be overwhelmed by the enormity of the world's grief...You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.

        by Albatross on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:00:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  What other choice is there? (13+ / 0-)

        What do you want them to do for you?

        YOU made the decision where to work, where to live, and so on -- along with MILLIONS upon MILLIONS of other people.

        The folks who have been harping on Peak Oil, energy efficiency, and the like HAVE been offering suggestions but no one listens. Now, when its too late, you blame them for not having feasible ideas or plans of action. It's like the old joke about the guy in a flood praying for god to help him instead of taking the assistance that has come by in the meantime. Christ Jesus, what the fuck more to you want done?

        Well, news for you, these suggestions fail because people don't want them to change. People prefer the life they have right now. They prefer the big SUVs, the long commutes, and everything else that has come with cheap gas.

        I'm sorry for your situation. But you and everyone here, including myself, is responsible for the oil crisis. No choice but to drive? Everything is a choice -- even when you're not asked and the outcome rigged.

        Sponge Bob, Mandrake, Cartoons. That's how your hard-core islamahomocommienazis work.

        by Benito on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:01:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Bull cookies. (13+ / 0-)

          But you and everyone here, including myself, is responsible for the oil crisis.

          I'm sorry, but no.  I drive a total of 6 miles a day.  How's that contribute to the oil crisis?

          I do it in a car that gets 30 miles to the gallon. How's that contribute?

          What do I want done? I want the government to raise CAFE standards to at LEAST 30 miles to the gallon. I want Detroit to get off their asses and stop whining about nobody likes their cars anymore and start marketing vehicles that people actually want AND get great gas mileage. I want my government to recognize that we don't need to go to war for foreign oil because we've got enough insight to plan for the future.

          We're not all responsible for Peak Oil.  We're trying to do our part. Conserve, reuse, recycle.  

          Don't try to turn personal choices and circumstances into some sort of excuse for our government and corporations to avoid THEIR responsibility to the common good.

          •  I'm Sorry, but yes (7+ / 0-)

            I'm sorry, but no.  I drive a total of 6 miles a day.  How's that contribute to the oil crisis?

            Do you eat? Where are the clothes in your closet from?

            I understand your point, but everyone in the United States have all greatly benefited from oil in one way or another.

            Sponge Bob, Mandrake, Cartoons. That's how your hard-core islamahomocommienazis work.

            by Benito on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:42:42 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Agreed. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              MRL, seaprog, besieged by bush

              We contribute to the oil crises by buying imports from other countries, buying disposable crap even if it is manufactured locally (especially plastics), living in houses larger than we need and paying to heat them, taking plane flights, leaving the light on when we don't need them... so many more ways than just driving.

              I am by NO means saying I am not also responsible for this also - I do all of these things too. It is only recently that I started to realize just how MUCH energy I use and started making conscious decisions to reduce it. I know I can reduce it a lot more still.

              conscientious objector in the battle of the sexes.

              by plymouth on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:50:47 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Oh, come on. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ArcXIX, Alegre, pissedpatriot

              Now you are bordering on ridiculous.

              Do I eat? Where are my clothes from?

              OK, Doctor, bang, you got me.  It's a lifestyle choice.

              Because we all can't be like Mahatma Gandhi and make our own clothes and raise our own food.

              While your at it, while don't you go after the other 3 billion people in the world that CRAVING oil right now and consuming at a fast rate in places like China and India...'cause, you know they eat and wear clothes, too.

              If everyone HERE is benefiting, then everyone in a semi-industrialized country ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD is benefiting.

              At least by the logic you are employing.

              •  Reality v Fantasy (5+ / 0-)

                While your at it, while don't you go after the other 3 billion people in the world that CRAVING oil right now and consuming at a fast rate in places like China and India...'cause, you know they eat and wear clothes, too.

                If everyone HERE is benefiting, then everyone in a semi-industrialized country ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD is benefiting.

                At least by the logic you are employing.

                I'm not going after anyone. Merely pointing out, as have others, that when 1/3 of humanity decides that they want and can afford to drive cars instead of bicycles we've got a problem on our hands. Rising incomes mean increased demands for material goods, which strains our resource base.

                Status quo thinking isn't going to cut it in a world of 9 billion people and an industrialized China and India yearning for an American-style quality of life -- because that's what the future is going to be, whether we like it or not.

                Let me post, once again, charts I posted yesterday:

                And let me restate what I pointed out yesterday  :

                China has more middle-class people than there are citizens in the United States, and they, by God and Chairman Mao, want an American, middle-class lifestyle. India is growing almost as fast. These are geopolitical realities. Crude oil production has stagnated yet demand continues to grow.

                Americans inefficiently consume 26% of world daily oil production.

                This is the world as it is. What is it that you suggest that we do?

                 

                Sponge Bob, Mandrake, Cartoons. That's how your hard-core islamahomocommienazis work.

                by Benito on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:42:08 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  You're right about status quo thinking. (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Meteor Blades, seaprog, Alegre

                  But perhaps you are not following me.

                  Your argument seems to be, "Well, we're all at fault for creating this mess.  So stop driving, eating, and clothing yourself as of today and everything will turn on it's head."

                  You are pushing the "personal responsibility" angle, much like Bush talks about us being "addicted to oil" like it is a cigerettes.

                  And my point it is not MERELY about personal choice as you seem to imply.

                  We need to get beyond the personal choice angle and get to a point where we are talking about macro solutions on a macro level.  

                  That's what I've been advocating.

                  Believe, if we were all to stop going to work tomorrow, not drive, not buy any food or clothes, $3.00 gas will seem like a picnic in comparison to what would happen to our economy.

                  •  Talking Past Each Other (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    besieged by bush, plymouth

                    We agree more than we disagree. What I'm pointing out is that the macro outcomes are the results of micro decisions. Attempting macro change when all the societal micro incentives are working against that change will be like attempting to push an oil tanker with a broomstick -- it just won't work.

                    Believe, if we were all to stop going to work tomorrow, not drive, not buy any food or clothes, $3.00 gas will seem like a picnic in comparison to what would happen to our economy.

                    I agree. But we do need to start think of things like gas taxes. It's the most efficient way to conserve.

                    Sponge Bob, Mandrake, Cartoons. That's how your hard-core islamahomocommienazis work.

                    by Benito on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:18:29 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  During the 60s there was a saying, (7+ / 0-)

                "Live lightly on the earth."  

                That was a message that some of us took seriously then and now.  My very well dressed family wears rummage sale fleas without apology or explanation, we live in an urban area and visit the country, we shop at our local farmer's market, we drive second hand cars, we manage our money carefully, we chose work that limited our income but gave us more flexibility and control in our lives.

                The strange thing is that we haven't suffered significantly from any of those conscious choices.    I'm well aware that there are people who now have fewer choices. They are stuck where they are and with what they have. We need to teach the next generation to make decisions that will give them the ability to live richly with limited means.

                Maybe we need to bumper sticker that message to remind people to keep it in mind before they choose.

                "Live lightly on the Earth"

                •  And this is more in line (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  tikkun, Alegre

                  with my thinking instead of the "We're all to blame for this mess because we eat" way of thinking.

                  "Live lightly on the Earth" or "Live Simply so others can Simply Live" are in tune with my thinking as well.

                  But to pass judgment on everyone and blame them for an oil crisis just because they live in the United States seems ridiculous.

                  I wouldn't blame you for the oil crisis. Would you?

                  •  I Don't Blame Them (4+ / 0-)

                    People are genuinely stuck and Democrats need to think creatively to help them solve those problems of access to medical help, access to jobs in rural areas, access to good education, and access to means of communication that keep them engaged with the larger body of citizenry.  So far, I haven't seen much creativity, some, but not much.

                  •  Blame and responsibility are different (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    stitchmd

                    Benito's original statement was that we all need to take responsibility for our part in this mess. I have a hard time believing that there is anyone here who can't do anything more to conserve energy, to lobby congress, to invest in green products (and that doesn't just mean expensive things like hybrids - that also means small things like locally grown produce and flouresent light bulbs). "Blame" is a really loaded word. We can take responsiblity without shouldering blame. Similarly to how we don't BLAME the victim of a mugging for their part in the crime, but that same victim can take responsibility for their safety by taking a self-defense class and learning to be more aware of their surroundings so that they don't become victimized again.

                    conscientious objector in the battle of the sexes.

                    by plymouth on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 02:56:39 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

          •  Detroit (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            melo, theran, wmtriallawyer

            I think it's safe to say that Detroit has officially lost.  Even if they did start putting out cars that got good mileage, I have several family members here who worked for them for decades and now, thanks to the crappy treatment, will never buy 'American' ever again.  

            Let's face it:  the American auto industry is dead.  The introduction of the large gas-guzzling status symbols was the tombstone.  If Detroit had any sense, they would look into a new line of work while Toyota, Honda, and whomever else wants in could get in.  We've been beaten utterly because our cars are crap (where are the Oldsmobiles that actually were bricks??) and we didn't bother doing something when we had the chance.  And now that people aren't employed by them anymore, they've just killed their patriotic base as well.  

            •  You'll get no argument from me. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              melo

              A substantial portion of my family worked for Ford Motor in Detroit.  And for years, my father and I argued with them telling them how far behind the times they were...and the Japanese were beating their brains in.  Fell on deaf ears.

            •  Nice (0+ / 0-)

              But where does that leave the tens of thousands working for the auto industry in our society - especially in my home-state of Michigan.

              Rather than give up on the industry here at home, maybe we should think of ways to get our point accross - that we consumers won't buy the big gas guzzlers and want more affordable, higher mileage cars.

              Bloggin' with a bar of soap and my car window IMPEACH -8.75 / -6.10

              by Alegre on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 06:42:34 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Then you misunderstand the construction of our (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          seaprog, wmtriallawyer, Alegre, Sam I Am

          society. Very few of our cities are made with any thought to bicycles or public transportation. People speak of the metro like this great thing, but frankly, it does not cover very much of the DC area at all, is broke, and sometimes you have to wait three trains to get on it every morning. I would hate to call THAT a shining success. And the DC area has an awful traffic problem despite the overcrowding of the metro. And DC is an example of a city with at least some thought to public transportation. Try Denver. Or Dallas. Or Houston. Or Vegas. These are not cities built on a scale where non-vehicle transport is possible. Your response would be that they were planned poorly and we need to fix them. But hell, expanding the metro just a little tiny bit, building off an existing line, in D.C. costs over half a billion dollars. How the hell do you propose one creates a subway system in Vegas?

          Saying we all need to wake up and make 'realistic' choices is all well and good if it weren't for the fact that the solution is of dubious realism. People defend cars because the cars aren't going away. Give them better cars and they'll buy them. There's a wait list for hybrids, and the resale value on old ones is actually higher than bluebook and in some cases original purchase price. In other words, it can cost you more to buy a used prius than a new prius. So this whole, people refuse to buy hybrids argument is actually kinda illogical. Just because not everyone buys a new car every year and has one RIGHT NOW doesn't change that.

          •  On a similar subject... (0+ / 0-)

            Virginia Belle, did you see the article on the FP of the Post today about the carpenters in Luray that commute to George Mason every day?  

            Reminded me of your diary yesterday.

          •  Streetcars (0+ / 0-)

            Wait for the streetcars.  We're going back in time in DC.

          •  The World You Describe (8+ / 0-)

            Is the one we have made.

            Do not think to 'lecture' me on the realities of how our society works. Who do you suppose voted with their feet to create suburbia to begin with? Who voted with the pocketbooks for larger and more inefficient automobiles? Who voted with their ballots to defund public transport or alternative energy research?

            Americans did. Not all of course, but a sizable majority. Over decades. These things didn't just happen. They are the result of individual decisions played out over decades.

            ...DC is an example of a city with at least some thought to public transportation. Try Denver. Or Dallas. Or Houston. Or Vegas. Your response would be that they were planned poorly and we need to fix them. But hell, expanding the metro just a little tiny bit, building off an existing line, in D.C. costs over half a billion dollars. How the hell do you propose one creates a subway system in Vegas?

            They weren't poorly planned -- that assumes people cared at all about the issues we're talking about today. These cities were built exactly they way they are because the citizens of these places WANTED them that way with the expectation that cheap and plentiful gasoline would be theirs by right of being American. Now, when conditions are changing, people blame others instead of themselves.

            I especially have to laugh at the fools who blame the oil companies.

            So what would I suggest people do? Go take a look at the Energize America plan for starters. Personally, I would suggest we replace the payroll tax with a gas tax that includes a deduction equal to the cost of the average annual consumption of gasoline -- drive more than average you pay, drive less get more back. I would give the proceeds, if any, to rail development and energy research. I would tax foreign oil imports and use the funds to promote democratization abroad and energy efficiency at home.

            I would cancel the Navy's DDX destroyer and the Air Force's F-22 Raptor progams and send that money into basic energy research and development. I would ask NASA how to build solar panel stations in space and how to beam that energy down to earth.

            I would get the hell out of Iraq.

            None of this, of course, will change anything in the short run, but maybe in the long run we won't all be dead.

            Saying we all need to wake up and make 'realistic' choices is all well and good if it weren't for the fact that the solution is of dubious realism. People defend cars because the cars aren't going away. Give them better cars and they'll buy them. There's a wait list for hybrids, and the resale value on old ones is actually higher than bluebook and in some cases original purchase price. In other words, it can cost you more to buy a used prius than a new prius. So this whole, people refuse to buy hybrids argument is actually kinda illogical. Just because not everyone buys a new car every year and has one RIGHT NOW doesn't change that.

            I don't disagree. People want ideas. I gave mine. But don't blame others if you don't try their solutions and yours fail.

            Cars aren't evil. They aren't immoral. They're just cars. I even like mine. But we use them in an inefficient manner that is increasingly becoming more expensive for both individuals and society.

            Maybe instead of bitching about evil oil companies we should start thinking about changing the way we use them.  

            Sponge Bob, Mandrake, Cartoons. That's how your hard-core islamahomocommienazis work.

            by Benito on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:24:14 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Nice Notion Except That Some Folks Drive For Work (0+ / 0-)

              like truckers.

              Or take my job for instance - I'm a paralegal for a mid-sized law firm in a DC suburb.  Part of my job is to record documents in various courts around the state of MD.  In some cases I drive over 125 miles round trip.  I get reimbursed - sort of.  Our rate is 4.5 cents lower than the Fed Gov't. reimbursement rate - which means that this price hike is coming out of my pocket.  Someone suggested I write off the difference in my tax return but that's only allowed if the difference equals a certain percentage of my GROSS income.  Too high a threshold so I'm screwed.

              And before you offer an arrogant and unrealistic "solution" like changing jobs - I'll tell you that's bullshit.  I've been a paralegal for 18 years and I like my work.  I'm sure truckers or folks who own their own landscaping company (and have to pay higher prices to get around to their various jobs) would feel the same way.

              Your "solutions" only hurt the working poor.  Many are equivilent to a regressive tax and as progressive / Democrats - I would hope we could come up with a better solution to our problems.

              Bloggin' with a bar of soap and my car window IMPEACH -8.75 / -6.10

              by Alegre on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 06:49:42 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Except (8+ / 0-)

            It costs that much because whiny 'burbanites don't want it to go over there, or over here. And they won't pay on tenth of what they are willing to payfor the latest useless expansion on I-66. Oh, and don't you dare expand Tysons for high density around the Metro!

            Once again. The magic fairy pixie fuel which will allow all of you to have a nice house on a big yard with a Stupid User Vehicle doesn't exist. The Merlin/Gandalf 2000 with room for 4 kids, everyone's bicycles, and a load from Home Despot while getting 300mpg at 4000hp isn't possible. We aren't talking about "realism"...we're talking about reality. The 'burbs are already net welfare queens, only existing via subsidies. Now oil prices are pushing past even that.

            Plain and simple...you're non-viable economically on decining oil. The replacements like biofuel are literally 10 fold lower in input/output costs.

            Should people help reduce the pain of the transition? You betcha! Should we be perpetually ovetaxed to subsidize you lifetsyle in perpetuity? Not a chance. Get used to much smaller homes, cars, etc... Maybe a condo instead of a house. Get used to density. That's just the way it is.

            I'm sure buggywhip makers also wanted to get money to keep open long after the car appeared. they didn't get it either.

            •  buggywhip makers (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              theran, plymouth

              Exactly

              Let the market work as advertised. Let capital and labor free to where they are most useful, not where they are most heavily subsidized.

              Sponge Bob, Mandrake, Cartoons. That's how your hard-core islamahomocommienazis work.

              by Benito on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:48:16 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Burbanites? Welfare queens? (0+ / 0-)

              What planet are you living on?

              You really think that everyone who can't afford a home in the city has all that shit?  Or a huge home?

              We live in the burbs because that's all we can afford.  We're lucky we didn't end up in Germantown for crying out loud - another 20 miles out.

              I'm getting so SICK of urban-dwellers painting us all as wasteful assholes who refuse to live in the city and ride our fucking bikes everywhere!

              This is NOT a lifestyle "choice" pal.  It's reality.  We live where we live because it's all we can fucking afford.  Not everyone lives in Potomac or McLean.  We live in Silvery Spring, Greenbelt, Laurel, Germantown, Frederick because it's all we can afford.

              Get a clue already will ya?

              Bloggin' with a bar of soap and my car window IMPEACH -8.75 / -6.10

              by Alegre on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 06:53:43 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  not always (0+ / 0-)

                Not all people who live in Silver Spring, Greenbelt, etc., live there because it's all they can afford for a minimal amount of shelter.  Granted, it's the case for some, but not all.

                There are many who live out there because they desire an extra room or two.  They want to live the posr-war ideal of a house with a full-size kitchen, a dining room, a living room, a den, master bedroom, two other bedrooms for the kids, laundry/mudroom, and 2 1/2 baths.  They want to live the "two cars in every garage" lifestyle, and the only way to get it is to buy a cheaply-made McMansion in the 'burbs (with the chemically-green lawn, the three-car garage, the clear-cut parcel of land, etc.).  

                The thing is: it's more space than they practically need.  For example, before I moved to DC my partner and I lived in a three-bedroom, two storey apartment in Connecticut.  the place was spacious, with a lot of space to store amassed things (almost 1,200 square feet).  We had off-street parking for three cars, a backyard, etc.  But the place was expensive to heat (oil heat), and I can only imagine what the bills would be like these days.

                In DC, we live in a one-bedroom English basement that's maybe 550 square feet.  It's tight, but it's practical.  We had to adjust our habits to having less storage space, a seven-fold smaller kitchen, on-street parking that's often a crapshoot, and so forth.  There was a lot of pain in the first year, and we considered looking for something bigger.

                But we made the adjustment, and now we're happily staying put.  We realized that we were being excessive in our consumption of goods, and now we're living a much more low-key existance.  While we still own our cars, one is back in CT (it's driven maybe 4 times per year, and it's an economy car that gets 40 mpg.), and the DC-based car gets driven once per week (usually to adhere to alternate-side parking rules).  We do most of our commuting on foot or bike, and ride Metro for those places that are further afield.  As such, our stress levels are lower, and we're happy.

                Sure, we could have more space living in Bethesda, Arlington, Falls Church, Silver Spring or Rockville.  But we'd probably lower our quality of life with all of the time wasted in commuting, the distance between us and our social base in DC, etc.

                So it is a lifestyle choice for many.  They choose to go for the bigger house with a yard in the suburbs.  They choose to go with the easy answer to their creature comforts, rather than sacrifice and adjust now.  And while some will move closer to their work (e.g. move to Reston and your office is there or in Herndon), many move farther afield, off the mass transit grid, looking for the "hobby room" or the three-car garage.  And do they trade in the SUV or minivan for a hybrid or an economy car?  More often than not, they don't - partly out of vanity, partly because they can't fathom plunking down change on a new car because their savings are getting hit hard by the costs of tanking up the LandImpaler.

                If you have the time, read the writings of Jane Jacobs and James Howard Kunstler.  In particular, Kunstler's The Geography of Nowhere and The Long Emergency are eye-opening and point out the folly of the 'burbs being the only low-cost solution.  Just food for thought.

                My $0.02 - your mileage may vary.

                •  Minimum Amount of Shelter? (0+ / 0-)

                  WTF?

                  Seriously - are you suggesting we all give up the homes we've worked so hard for to move back to the city and live stacked one on top of the other in efficiencies then?

                  MINIMUM AMOUNT OF SHELTER?

                  What kind of a life is that?

                  Seriously - I really feel sorry for you if that's all you want in life.

                  I'm getting so tired of people looking down their noses as the rest of us because they choose to live in an area made up solely of concrete sidewalks and streets.  I live in the burbs because I have two small kids and want to live in an area with decent schools.  The schools in our old area are crap.  Please - don't judge or point fingers at others because they want a decent life for their children.

                  Bloggin' with a bar of soap and my car window IMPEACH -8.75 / -6.10

                  by Alegre on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 11:34:22 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  not suggesting that at all (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    theran

                    I'm merely suggesting that people often get much more than they practically need in terms of a house/apartment/condo.  It's the "chicken in every pot" post-war fantasy that BushCo is trying to perpetuate.

                    It's like this: while I would like to have a place that's 1,200 sq. ft., is it what I really need?  What are my needs, and what kind of space wil fulfill them?

                    For every person, that answer will be different due to myriad reasons.

                    And I'm not looking to belittle your choice (and it is a choice - you admit as much) in living quarters.  You chose to live in an area where the schools are perceived as better, where there seems to be more green space, and where the air appears to be cleaner - that's great, and all the power to you.  We all make choices in this life, and you've chosen the suburbs - great!

                    I grew up in a fairly rural area.  I appreciate and treasure open space (and not the fenced-in kind you see here in the east - rather, the wide open forests and BLM land in the west), wildlife, nature, clean air, and neighborly interaction.  Yet so many suburban subdivisions are designed to minimize and marginalize neighborly interaction.  And that's the failure of the American suburb: it creates large areas of monoclasses: people of the same ehtnicity, same economic status, same religion, clustered in cookie-cutter "neighborhoods" with arbitrarily winding streets that have little-to-no connection with neighboring developments.  In many of these subdivisions, even sidewalks are an afterthought: these places were designed around the power of the automobile and cheap oil.

                    And if that's your vision of ideal living, all the power to you.  You are entitled to your own ideal vision, and I can't stand in the way of that.

                    But, as ElitistJohn says, don't expect those of us who live in the urban areas to subsidize your town and its infrastructure.

                    But the variables of living are changing.  Oil is likely past peak production, meaning that crude prices will continue to skyrocket.  This will require behavioral change on a scale that most Americans can't fathom.  Most politicians refrain from speaking about this change in real terms because it's a "third rail" issue that can cost them their office.

                    As Bob Dylan once mused, "the times, they are a' changing."

                    Just my $0.02 - your mileage may vary.

                    •  Schools (0+ / 0-)

                      I live in the community I do because my 3-year old has learning delays and our county has some of the best pre-K help for kids like him.  And it's made a huge difference.

                      I shudder to think of what life would be like if we'd stayed in DC.

                      I'm guessing you don't have kids and that may or may not change.  But until it does, I would really appreciate it if you'd refrain from passing judgment on parents who look for the best they can get for their children.  Your life changes in millions of ways once kids come along - and so do your needs.

                      I don't judge what others need - I'd appreciate the same respect.

                      Bloggin' with a bar of soap and my car window IMPEACH -8.75 / -6.10

                      by Alegre on Thu Apr 27, 2006 at 01:48:42 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

          •  Actually cars are going away... (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Joe Bob, seaprog, theran, plymouth

            People defend cars because the cars aren't going away. Give them better cars and they'll buy them.

            Makes me laugh because the way I see it cars are going away.... soon.

            People defend their cars because they need them ... but  there are no better cars.... no combination of energy systems is going to make a personal mobility car based transportation system sustainable.... not hydrogen from nuclear plants... not biodesiel... not hybrids... not horrible monoculture sugar can ethanol production... not liquified coal... nada nada nada.   Nothing is going to make a car transportation world work on a planetary scale.....  

            I like having access to my car on the weekends... but it is an indefensible monstrosity (a 4 cylinder Subaru) and I pride myself on knowing that.

            •  Pride (0+ / 0-)

              Must be nice to be able to grin at yerself each morning in the mirror and feel so superiour to the rest of us eejits.

              Seriously - it's nice you can do all that.  But honestly - you have the ability to walk or bike rather than drive your subaru.  Nice for you.  But some of us actually need to get around for things like milk, diapers, and for work.

              You do your part - I'll do what I can.

              This isn't a contest after all.

              Bloggin' with a bar of soap and my car window IMPEACH -8.75 / -6.10

              by Alegre on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 06:56:36 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Sure, pride in having a grip on reality. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                theran

                Not sure why you'd think I feel superior, but I agree that we can only do what we can do.

                I ride a train to work, and my wife uses the car for children and shopping.  Typical one car urban family.  No special virtue here.

                I'm lucky to live in Portland where we have public transit that works.

                What I find funny is that people confuse the NEED for cars, with the idea that somehow they can't possibly vanish.

                Well, in my lifetime the number of people who will be able to afford the energy to operate a car is very likely to go way way down, and it's going to hurt a lot of people as that adjustment takes place.  

                I certainly won't be able to afford a 4 cylinder car like the one I have now.  Most people won't.

                •  Reality (0+ / 0-)

                  for you maybe.  But you clearly have no clue as to what my reality is, or any of the millions of working families living on the edge between middle class and poverty.  I have to wonder if you even come close to getting it.

                  But keep telling yourself about reality - it probably helps you maintain that illusion of superiority.

                  Bloggin' with a bar of soap and my car window IMPEACH -8.75 / -6.10

                  by Alegre on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 11:21:34 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  Amen. (5+ / 0-)

          When it's suggested that something has to change regarding America's energy situation, I've been surprised by the outpouring of anger and vitriol on the part of some Kossacks, people nominally predisposed to a progressive, conservation-oriented message.

          I don't see a way around this: Based on current circumstances, e.g.: our leadership, overall societal lack of foresight, the naked facts of geology, etc., people who have bought into a suburban, auto-intensive lifestyle have sunk a lot of money into something with a dubious future.

          Naturally, people are angry and defensive when they're told that the 3000sf house in the burbs, which they sank their life savings into, along with the two cars and the 25-mile commute might amount to little more than costly mistakes.

          I'll admit, this isn't a popular message or a politically successful one but I think it's a fair assessment of what the future may hold. Disruptions in oil supply are going to come, be it a result of practical limits on supply or, more likely, geopolitical factors. This isn't necessarily a prediction of doom. However, the choice we do have is whether we prepare a soft landing or just deal with the consequences of a hard one.

          Personally, I think making some mildly onerous adjustments now would be a whole lot easier than the shock therapy approach. Even if one were to accept the proposition that untapped supplies and oil company malfeasance are to blame for the current situation...if these things were 'fixed' how long would that postpone the inevitable? 3 years? 10 years? Do the people screeching about gas prices really think that the status quo is sustainable indefinitely, or even for the duration of their natural lives?

          •  But.... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            hopscotch1997, Alegre

            who on DKos is saying THIS?

            Naturally, people are angry and defensive when they're told that the 3000sf house in the burbs, which they sank their life savings into, along with the two cars and the 25-mile commute might amount to little more than costly mistakes.

            How many Kossacks have the 3000sf house and two cars they drive 25 miles?  

            I don't.  I consider what you describe somewhat crazy.

            I have a house half that size.  I do have two cars, but we only drive them to the bus station...3 miles for me, 6 miles for my wife.

            I haven't sunk my life savings into house because it's ridiculously expensive.  Renting is cheaper.

            Seriously, who are these Kossacks that have the huge homes, burn the energy, commute 25 miles one way, and apparently have money to burn?

            That's not what I'm hearing...

            •  Raises hand sheepishly (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              melo, dwahzon, Alegre, Sam I Am

              Um, actually....

              Well, here's the thing - it costs just as much to live in a tiny condo downtown as it does to live in a spacious house in the suburbs.  I have a family, I like to garden.  Frankly, I'm too much in sticker shock to pay $500k for a 1 bedroom condo, when I can get a 3-bedroom house with a yard for the kids to play.

              Gas costs me money out here in the suburbs, but there are supermarkets and Costco and places where I can get my food for a reasonable price.  When I used to live downtown, I had to take a bus/subway out to a grocery store to avoid paying 3x the cost of things at the small "convenience" stores in the city center, or spending my paycheck on eating out/delivery.  

              I do prefer the suburban school system (how many exposes on the literally decaying urban schools - DC's schools are in the news weekly for falling plaster, mold, etc. - before I am convinced my kids' future is not a social science experiment and that I'm not willing to send them to the urban schools just to be a good progressive?).  I prefer the lower crime rate.  The list goes on.

              There's more that factors into the decisionmaking than the cost of gas.  Lots more.  The suburban lifestyle is a fundamentally different lifestyle than the urban lifestyle is.  Urban areas need a lot of revision before they're going to appeal to the suburbanites - better schools, more greenspace, affordable food and other necessities within reach, etc.  

              But, frankly, the answer to peak oil can't be moving to a city apartment and taking the subway.  Most suburbanites can't or won't make that change, even if the urban areas were more attractive places to live.  Let's explore alternative fuels, commuter rail, bicycling in the suburbs, carbon taxes that encourage/force suburbanites to carpool, whatever.  But the way of life is not going to disappear, it's too ingrained, and there are too many real and perceived advantages for people to willingly give them up.  People will resist to the last drop of gasoline, if their only choice is living in an apartment in the city.  So let's work on a spectrum of real choices that these people are more likely to embrace.

              -5.88, -6.31 | Can money pay for all the days I lived awake/ But half asleep?

              by milton333 on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 12:59:38 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  It's Your Choice (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                skeptigal

                I do prefer the suburban school system (how many exposes on the literally decaying urban schools - DC's schools are in the news weekly for falling plaster, mold, etc. - before I am convinced my kids' future is not a social science experiment and that I'm not willing to send them to the urban schools just to be a good progressive?).  I prefer the lower crime rate.  The list goes on.

                But you do see how fleeing the cities has contributed to these problems, right? By voting with your feet and your wallet you've contributed to the overgrowth of suburbia AND the decline of cities. Of course, the incentives you faced made your choice the best path for you. Unfortunately, for society it may not lead to an efficient outcome for society.

                But, frankly, the answer to peak oil can't be moving to a city apartment and taking the subway.  Most suburbanites can't or won't make that change, even if the urban areas were more attractive places to live.  Let's explore alternative fuels, commuter rail, bicycling in the suburbs, carbon taxes that encourage/force suburbanites to carpool, whatever.  But the way of life is not going to disappear, it's too ingrained, and there are too many real and perceived advantages for people to willingly give them up.  People will resist to the last drop of gasoline, if their only choice is living in an apartment in the city.  So let's work on a spectrum of real choices that these people are more likely to embrace.

                Then be prepared to pay $5-$6 gas on a regular basis in the near future, even higher gas farther out. The options you raised are choices. We need to look into them, but these high prices are only signs of things to come.  

                Sponge Bob, Mandrake, Cartoons. That's how your hard-core islamahomocommienazis work.

                by Benito on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:33:20 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Like the man said... (0+ / 0-)

                  my first concern in deciding where to live is what is the best environment for my children.

                  Right now that is a suburb.  

                •  So Your Solution is to Have Everyone Move (0+ / 0-)

                  back into a high-rise in the city and pay three times the going rate for a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk - and spend a million on a condo (that's the going rate for new developments in DC right now).

                  Yeah - that's realistic.

                  Frankly - that's not much of a life in my book.

                  And not affordable for most working families.

                  Bloggin' with a bar of soap and my car window IMPEACH -8.75 / -6.10

                  by Alegre on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 06:59:23 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  All you have to do (0+ / 0-)

                    Is live where your house is.  You don't have to live in DC, but you can't live all over the Mid Atlantic without getting hit by huge gas bills.  This constraint is only going to get tighter as time goes by.

                    If you think you're that far ahead, then get the chips in the middle of the table!

                    by theran on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 09:11:32 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Ya lost me (0+ / 0-)

                      Live where your house is?

                      Bloggin' with a bar of soap and my car window IMPEACH -8.75 / -6.10

                      by Alegre on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 11:36:06 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  What's so complicated? (0+ / 0-)

                        Your house is somewhere.  Where you shop is someplace else.  Where you work is a third location.  Where you hang out is another place.  

                        If these are not too far apart, then it doesn't really matter whether or not there is public transit or the city is big.

                        If they are far apart, then you'll want them to be near a train or a bus.

                        The soon-to-be-infeasible alternative is to just drive 100+ miles every day.

                        If you think you're that far ahead, then get the chips in the middle of the table!

                        by theran on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 03:21:01 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

              •  This presumes... (0+ / 0-)

                There are other options.

                •  There are (0+ / 0-)

                  Mixed zoning and more density in the suburbs, for example.

                  If you think you're that far ahead, then get the chips in the middle of the table!

                  by theran on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 02:24:31 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Good luck (0+ / 0-)

                    You really think sprawlsville will be willing to eliminate the very reasons they started? And how are you going to add density? Knock down some houses and put in condos? In the middle of nowhere (to the mindset of people who live in condos)?

                    You're absolutely right about greater density...but they won't be willing to do it.

                    •  I don't need luck (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      plymouth

                      Look at this thread.  People are flipping their shit because they can't afford to keep going in the current direction.  Once they realize that neither can anybody else in their exurb, he zoning will change.

                      If you think you're that far ahead, then get the chips in the middle of the table!

                      by theran on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 12:48:11 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

              •  Hold on a minute (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                plymouth, Alegre

                you're talking about the giant metropolises.  Smaller cities, like, say Memphis, have urban neighborhoods with all the amenities of suburbia (yard, grocery stores, good schools)and a five minute bike ride into work too.  

                Maybe I'm just lucky, but seems to me that neighborhoods like my own are the ideal in terms of amenities and cabon footprint.

                And no, I couldn't afford to buy here, but my rent is quite reasonable.

            •  Try this. (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              theran, plymouth, stitchmd, skeptigal

              Take a few minutes and read through Jerome a Paris' diary Your cars are an incredible luxury from a couple of days ago. There were a couple of heavily commented upon diaries in reaction to it you could find as well.

              The 3000sf, 2 cars, 25mi are numbers used to make a rhetorical point, though they aren't at all unusual for a typical family in a newer suburban development. That said, in these diaries you will find a wide-ranging variety of excuses/defenses for why people must live suburban, auto-dependant lifestyles. It's real "America's way of life is non-negotiable." type stuff and I was pretty surprised by the unwillingness of many to critically examine their choices.

              I realize there are some powerful incentives to choose to live in suburbs. In the crudest sense, housing is more affordable there. Well, what makes it more affordable is cheap real estate, which is cheap only because it's currently feasible to drive everywhere. In my mind, what this diary (as well as the related ones that have preceded it) is about is the incentives that make living in the suburbs an attractive proposition are likely to change, for the worse.  With that in mind, how far should society go to protect the prerogatives of suburbanites? Considering that the sustainability of the automobile suburb is a dicey proposition the best of times, I'm ready to stop digging that particular hole.  

              •  costs associated with the suburbs (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                melo, theran, plymouth, skeptigal

                I currently practice medicine in the city, but a few years ago my practice was in the suburbs. Here's an example of what I saw as an uncounted cost of suburban life.

                We all get old, if we live long enough. And that includes failing eyesight and reflexes, arthritis, declining memory, and many other factors which make driving very difficult. And the suburbs, as you point out, Joe Bob, are dependent on driving.

                So what happens as you age in the suburbs and you can no longer drive? How do you get your groceries? How do you get to the doctor's office or to the pharmacy? How, in fact, do you get around to see your friends, go to a movie, engage in your community?

                Fact is, for many, they don't. They have to move to retirement communities which is a terribly disruptive choice for many, or they have to rely on private transportation, or they become prisoners in their own houses.

                Me, when I get old, I plan to move into an apartment in a low-level urban environment. The main reason being I currently live in a vertical house. But this is one of the constraints of suburban living that no one thinks of up front: what to do when you cannot drive?

                •  Young and old both (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  theran, Hardhat Democrat, stitchmd

                  Auto-dependency is equally constraining for children, not to mention the parents forced to chauffer them everywhere. For most of my childhood I lived in a residential city neighborhood: I walked to school and otherwise had all of the necessities of life within walking distance: candy, comic books and a video arcade.

                  Children living on a cul-de-sac in a housing pod dropped in the middle of a farm field don't have access to any of that. Likewise, most of the infrastructure is optimized for high-speed motoring, so venturing out on your own (an essential part of my own childhood) is contraindicated anyway.

                  All in all, it's quite the vicious circle. After chauffering Junior around for 16 years the parents are extremely eager to get him behind the wheel...and so it goes.

                  As an aside, an associate of mine one made this comment detailing the woes of the cul-de-sac he experienced as a young man; he asked,  "How are you supposed to nonchalantly ride your bike by the house of a girl you like when she lives on a dead-end street?"

        •  Are You REALLY That Clueless? (0+ / 0-)

          Seriously - I made the choice to live where I do?  Do you have any clue as to what the housing market is in any given big city right now?  Yuppies are moving back in to the city centers and driving housing prices sky-high.  You can't even get much of a condo any more for what most working families have.

          For example - we lived in the city in a two-bedroom walk-up converted duplex 6-unit condo within walking distance of the subway (10 blocks)and the grocery store (8 blocks).  Well really it was a one-bedroom with a study that we converted for our infant daughter into another bedroom.  We moved to the burbs to a three-bedroom rambler - no subway or grocery store nearby - because our second child was on the way and we needed more room (and don't you DARE say we shouldn't have had another child and stayed where we were!).

          Do you have any idea as to what our little condo in DC sold for?  Any clue at all?  Nearly a quarter of a million $$.  Any clue as to what a three-bedroom house would have gone for in the District?  And I'm talking NW DC - not anacostia.  Try (at the very least) $600,000.

          I don't know about you but there's no way in hell we could have afforded a house in our old neighborhood.  We got a little three-bedroom rambler just outside the beltway - not much but it's all we could afford.  We got lucky - most of what we could afford was about 20 miles north of the city.

          What I'm saying is that your contention that I CHOSE to live where I do is complete and utter bullshit.  Economics and housing prices determine where the working families of this society live - not our choices.

          Unless you expect us to live on top of eachother in a one-bedroom condo with $400 a month maintenance fees (which frankly, you have no place making such demands).

          I realy don't get it - I get the impression that some here think we should all abandon the towns and villages around this country and stack one on top of the other in high-rises in the cities, and bike everywhere we need to go.  That's not realistic and I find it arrogant to even suggest it.

          Rather than blame working families - why not target the auto industry that's refused to come up with technology that will reduce the need to consume natural resources.  Why not blame our government for not putting our skills money and energy behind developing wind and solar energy technology.

          Lastly - you may think you've been offering solutions but you're sadly out of touch with what life is like for working families living on the edge of poverty.  You come off as arrogant, elitist and either intentionally ignorant - or just plain lying.

          Bloggin' with a bar of soap and my car window IMPEACH -8.75 / -6.10

          by Alegre on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 06:38:00 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Are YOU really this clueless? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            plymouth

            We moved to the burbs to a three-bedroom rambler - no subway or grocery store nearby - because our second child was on the way and we needed more room

            Why does your town look the way it does?  Seriously.  Calm down a moment and think about it; do you really think that it was physically prohibitive to build a store near your house or have a bike trail?  Could you use a 50cc scooter, or are the roads too wide and fast?  Why isn't there a bus close by?

            Your town looks the way it does because of road subsidies and zoning.  These are both going to change, or your town is going to go into a death spiral.  Since people don't want that, I'd guess the geography will change instead.

            If you think you're that far ahead, then get the chips in the middle of the table!

            by theran on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 09:00:53 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  50cc Scooter???? (0+ / 0-)

              Have you been reading ANY of what I've written here?

              I have two pre-schoolers and you want me to put them on the back of a fucking scooter?

              Step out of your effing arrogance, quit patting yourself on the back for a moment and try to put yourself in someone else's shoes.

              Bloggin' with a bar of soap and my car window IMPEACH -8.75 / -6.10

              by Alegre on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 09:12:20 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Zoning (0+ / 0-)

              BTW - I'm fully aware of zoning issues.  But that doesn't even begin to address my point regarding complete and utter arrogance of the post I was replying to.

              To say we choose to live where we do is to ignore the sky-rocketing cost of housing in urban centers.

              To say we choose to live where we do is to completely ignore quality of life issues such as schools, safety, clean air, green spaces...

              The list goes on and on and on.  None of that can be found in most major cities so please - get off your high horse and try - just TRY to put yourselves in the shoes of working families who are dealing with a shitload more issues than single, bike-riding, oh-so-superior urban dwellers.

              Bloggin' with a bar of soap and my car window IMPEACH -8.75 / -6.10

              by Alegre on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 09:16:05 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I hate to be the one to post this (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                plymouth

                But here we go anyway...

                To say we choose to live where we do is to completely ignore quality of life issues

                Let me summarize your posts in these threads: Your quality of life seems to be spiraling downwards.  You drive around in a car that eats up so much of your income that your job is almost not worth going to.  

                Briefly, suburban geography is killing your quality of life, yet you frantically defend it.

                If you think you're that far ahead, then get the chips in the middle of the table!

                by theran on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 09:22:57 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Defending it? (0+ / 0-)

                  Of course I'm defending it.  My quality of life isn't sprialing downwards - gas prices are going up sure but what I'm pissed at are all the suggestions that we impose a regressive gas tax on working families just barely making it.

                  Bloggin' with a bar of soap and my car window IMPEACH -8.75 / -6.10

                  by Alegre on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 11:38:07 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  You should go to india (0+ / 0-)

                    And tell all the people living crowded together in small houses in the cities how "just barely making it" you are with your ONLY three bedroom house in the suburbs. I'm sorry, but nobody with a three bedroom house in the suburbs could POSSIBLY be classified as "on the edge of poverty". My parents bought a fixer-upper after I was born where none of the upstairs bedrooms were even liveable until my dad pretty much gutted them and started from scratch and we had ONE bedroom between my parents and my sister and I until I was in junior high and even I know that wasn't "the edge of poverty". I went to a good public school, we never had to apply for food stamps or school lunch programs, and the mortgage got paid on time. That's not poverty. Geez.

                    conscientious objector in the battle of the sexes.

                    by plymouth on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 12:34:36 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Go To India? (0+ / 0-)

                      You're kidding right?  On what we've got?

                      Look you can toss out places and people in the world who've got it worse than we do til the cows come home but it won't change the fact that this is a regressive tax.  Period.  Full stop.

                      You guys keep diluding yourselves into thinking only Hummer drivers will get soaked at the pump but the reality is that the rest of us will get soaked too.  We've no room in our budget for this shit - it WILL force us over the edge into poverty and the lack of understanding and compassion around here is mind-blowing.

                      Who ARE you people?

                      Bloggin' with a bar of soap and my car window IMPEACH -8.75 / -6.10

                      by Alegre on Fri Apr 28, 2006 at 07:28:45 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

      •  The zoning in your community is going to change (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joe Bob, seaprog, skeptigal

        I have to drive to get food for my kids.

        We don't live within biking distance and we can't afford a hybrid.

        If you live in the suburbs or exurbs, you are going to start to see mixed zoning, which you're probably not used to.

        If you think you're that far ahead, then get the chips in the middle of the table!

        by theran on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:53:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  In 10 years or more (0+ / 0-)

          So tell me - what do I do in the meantime?  Mixed zoning doesn't help me deal with the idiotic suggestion of a gas tax - and it sure as hell doesn't change the fact that I can't afford a hybrid.

          So tell me - what do working families do in the meantime?

          Bloggin' with a bar of soap and my car window IMPEACH -8.75 / -6.10

          by Alegre on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 09:18:05 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think 10 is much too large a number (0+ / 0-)

            n/t

            If you think you're that far ahead, then get the chips in the middle of the table!

            by theran on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 09:39:45 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Not Good Enough (0+ / 0-)

              So where would you put it then?

              And I ask again - what do working families do in the meantime?

              Bloggin' with a bar of soap and my car window IMPEACH -8.75 / -6.10

              by Alegre on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 11:27:12 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  With current trends, 3--5 (0+ / 0-)

                This is just my guessing about what a typical real estate cycle looks like, though.  Basically, I assume that building more houses far out doesn't look good for a variety of reasons, and developers and towns will want to do something to protect the value of what they have.

                If the ``Gandalf 2k'' oil stretching system comes online, all bets are off.

                I have no good answer to your other question beyond carefully figuring out what the break-even point is for various salary levels and commutes.  I don't live in a city, but I do live in a walkable town.  It works out fine.  (New England towns like mine predate cars, just like the major cities.)

                If you think you're that far ahead, then get the chips in the middle of the table!

                by theran on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 03:45:38 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Right - So We Should Just Not Eat For the Next (0+ / 0-)

                  5 years then - is that it?

                  Not an option.  The so-called solutions offered so far are anything but solutions for my and millions of other working families.

                  I just can't get my head around the difficulty in understanding something so basic at this so-called progressive site.

                  Bloggin' with a bar of soap and my car window IMPEACH -8.75 / -6.10

                  by Alegre on Thu Apr 27, 2006 at 12:55:29 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Then you've left the feasible region (0+ / 0-)

                    The price of gas is going up, and it's not going to stop.  You aren't going to get a magic technology to save you and gas welfare is not on the way.  

                    The thing that is going to happen is behavioral change.  This isn't a suggested solution or non-solution.  It is just what's going to happen.  

                    If you think you're that far ahead, then get the chips in the middle of the table!

                    by theran on Fri Apr 28, 2006 at 01:07:01 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  You're Honestly Telling Us That This REGRESSIVE (0+ / 0-)

                      tax is the only solution to our energy worries?

                      Honestly?

                      This is all you have to offer us?  A regressive tax that will force thousands - maybe millions of us over the edge into poverty - this is your only solution?

                      Sorry but I'm not buyin' it and neither are a lot of others.

                      And BTW - if you think someone can get elected pushing this shit down our throats then you're dreaming.  It's a lose / lose idea for anyone running for office and you offer this in a year when we FINALLY have a shot at winning back one or both houses of Congress?

                      Not smart.

                      Bloggin' with a bar of soap and my car window IMPEACH -8.75 / -6.10

                      by Alegre on Fri Apr 28, 2006 at 07:25:23 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Have you not been reading anything? (0+ / 0-)

                        I am telling you that tax or no tax, geography is going to change.  I am also telling you, that a sane energy plan might make the transition more orderly.  (So would working schools, but local control and funding through property taxes mean that those are in a death spiral too.)

                        That nobody wants to hear it basically means that the country is fucked.  Oh, well.

                        If you think you're that far ahead, then get the chips in the middle of the table!

                        by theran on Fri Apr 28, 2006 at 09:33:17 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

      •  10 to 20 years (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Alegre, hypersphere01

        in 10 to 20 years we will probably have a new dilema with what to do with the thousands and millions of toxic batteries from these hybrids  :)

      •  Without change ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        melo

        all you will do is get more broke ...

        And, part of smart policy would be to be buying up those old cars and getting them off the road -- and providing you a path toward afforadably (I mean affordably) buy a new, reliable, fuel efficient plug-in hybrid, flex-fuel vehicle that you can then run for 250,000 miles at the equivalent of maybe 500 mpg of liquid fuel (with the majority of miles coming from electrical charges).

        You rant against a gas tax ... but what if a key element of that gas tax were structured loan programs that made it affordable for you buy a car as described above, which would end up radically reducing the amount of gas you needed to buy?

        9/11/05, Day 1469, A count worth keeping? Or, Osama Bin Forgotten?

        by besieged by bush on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 02:40:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  By Affordable (0+ / 0-)

          Do you mean free?

          Because that's about all we could afford right now.

          Seriously - All I'm hearing is taxes or buying a new car.  You people just don't get it.  We've got zero room in our budget for that.  We're so far behind the 8-ball it's not even funny and you offer up this shit as a "solution"?

          Bloggin' with a bar of soap and my car window IMPEACH -8.75 / -6.10

          by Alegre on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 07:05:22 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Do you own/operate a car? (0+ / 0-)

            What if the environment were structured so that the "new" car's total ownership costs -- for payments, repairs (likely fewer), insurance, gas, etc ... -- were the same or lower than your total ownership costs for driving an old car, which quite likely is at greater risk for breakdowns, and which quite likely is higher gasoline use? Note that the discussion was 'structured loan programs that made it affordable for you' ...

            If the national priority becomes slow global warming and reduce impact of peak oil, then assisting all to transition to better performing vehicles ASAP will include that type of assistance for those who require it.

            But, from another perspective, with all of your burdens and problems, what are your suggested solutions?  Since, you are "so far behind the 8-ball", the nation should stand still on something that is destroying the nation's viability and the planet's viability to support the world's population (both of humans and much of the wildlife)?

            9/11/05, Day 1469, A count worth keeping? Or, Osama Bin Forgotten?

            by besieged by bush on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 07:55:33 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  How Can I Make This Any Clearer? (0+ / 0-)

              We can't afford a car payment right now.  We're just getting by and you don't seem to get that.

              Bloggin' with a bar of soap and my car window IMPEACH -8.75 / -6.10

              by Alegre on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 09:19:39 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  We are going nowhere ... (0+ / 0-)

                but, if you read my words, I was suggesting that the car payment + maintenance + insurance + gas (even with new taxes) would be structured to be lower than your current maintenance + insurance + gas for what I am assuming would be an older, less fuel efficient, more polluting, less reliable vehicle.

                E.g., it would be in the national interest -- as part of a process to rapidly move toward a better fuel/pollution environment -- to provide assistance to those who need the help to get into a (much) better vehicle rather than provide tax breaks for real estate agents to buy Ford Expeditions ...

                Am I making myself clear?

                9/11/05, Day 1469, A count worth keeping? Or, Osama Bin Forgotten?

                by besieged by bush on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 10:19:38 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  LOL! (0+ / 0-)

                  You're presuming that I have a car payment.  I don't have a car payment.

                  My car may be 9 years old but it gets decent milage and the repairs aren't that frequent.  It's got about 70,000 miles on it and I plan to drive it into the ground.  

                  So your notion that I give it up to buy a new hybrid or whatEVER is just nuts.

                  Comparable expense?

                  Not even close.  But thanks for the laugh.

                  Bloggin' with a bar of soap and my car window IMPEACH -8.75 / -6.10

                  by Alegre on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 11:41:57 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Correction (0+ / 0-)

                  Scratch that first bit re car payment.

                  Bloggin' with a bar of soap and my car window IMPEACH -8.75 / -6.10

                  by Alegre on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 11:42:43 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

    •  *Standing up, applauding you* (13+ / 0-)

      Seriously, great comment. And I am one of those upper middle class families that I guess, in theory, could give the lecture about conservation.

      Look, folks, the "get a hybrid or get over it" mentality doesn't need to be foisted on Kossacks.  My guess is that Kossacks are either conserving as much as they can or are in Alegre's situation.

      No, the folks you need to lecture are the ones who think they absolutely need the big huge SUV. They are the folks I see driving to work EVERY DAY, one person in a car, and usually in a BIIIIIG car, not a small one. My HOV lane is a breeze where I am...'cuase everybody's jammed in one person car trying to get to work.

      Some cannot avoid it.  But it drives me bonkers with regards to the choices people make as to driving Suburbans, etc. Granted, if you are stuck with the car you got, you are stuck with it until you can afford another one.

      But urging people to "get a hybrid" is a joke.  Hybrids, right not, are NOT cost effective as to the gas crisis.  In fact, it still takes about 5-7 years of driving a hybrid to make back the money paid in sticker premium in the form of saved gas. You are better off just getting a standard, gas saving small car that isn't a hybrid.  Not to mention all the problems not yet worked out on how to dispose of the hybrid battery when it's used up, or what if something goes wrong with the battery pack ($10 K to replace it???).

      I'm an environmentalist and a conservationist, but I'm NOT about to get sanctimonious about it.  And neither should anyone else until they've put themselves in the same situation as others.

      Let's get off the personal responsibility kick of environmentalism and conservation and get ON the back of our government to FORCE them to provide cost-effective, clean burning, gas saving vehicles.  To heighten our clean air standards. Etc., etc.

    •  I could change my attitude and my tone, (15+ / 0-)

      but it would do nothing to lower the price of gasoline.

      I'm not rich guy, I've made my choices. I'm sorry that these high prices hurt, really, but you need to know that they will be high from now until forever. That's just geology, not attitude.

      I am the federal government.

      by mateosf on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:17:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Hey, where are you gonna direct your anger? (10+ / 0-)

      Interesting choice you make to get angry at "upper middle class urban" bike riders.

      The people I know who bike are anything but "upper middle class"...

      You have to drive to work and to get food because your cities were designed that way by people who were short sighted.   THEY screwed you.  Why do you accept the reality that you live in as a given, and view the person who tells you that your reality is about to change as arrogant?  

      You, me, all of us, have to get over the fact that we were sold a bill of goods... cities and cars designed on an assumption that was unsustainable.

      THAT was arrogance and elitism.  THAT was a lack of compassion.

      In contrast, advising people to accept that they have been screwed by the energy policies of this country and that the world is changing is just tough love.

      Now I agree that a hybrid is not an economical solution yet, and in fact there are very few good solutions.   But crying about the increasing cost of energy and the fact that it hurts?  

      Well all you and I had to do was listen and we would have known this was coming.  We should all get over it, roll up our sleeves and elect people who will help us cope with it.... instead of sending oil executives to Washington who believe that more of the same will solve our problems.  

    •  Alegre...the writers of South Park agree with you (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Moli

      If you don't watch SP or haven't seen the episode it'll be too hard to explain via text. Check it out if you can, I think its called Smug Alert.

      "Watch what you say or they'll be calling you a radical, a liberal, fanatical, criminal..."-7.75, -7.28

      by solesse413 on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:28:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Actually, if you don't take this so literally . . (8+ / 0-)

      The point is, "cheap gas" ins't a birth right.  And, gas is absurdly cheap compared to prices historically.

      And, you don't have to purchase a hybrid or ride a bike to ameliorate the impact of higher gas prices.

      I drive a 1984 BMW 325e that I bought for $1100.  It gets 35+ MPG on the freeway and in the mid to upper 20s in the city.

      Plus, studies have shown that driving habits have a HUGE impact on MPG.  Drive 55 instead of 75 and you save gas.  Don't accellerate like a madman (or madwoman)only to jam on the breaks at the next traffic light.

      Budget your travel -- call the store before you go to see if they have what you need.

      Carpool.

      I'm sorry, but the "rich people have it easier" retort here is a little weak, IMHO.

      RICH PEOPLE ALWAYS HAVE IT EASIER IN TERMS OF PRICES!!

      There is plenty of compassion for working folks just trying to get by.  But whining for "cheap gas" ain't the answer.  Fairer tax structure would be a good start.

      It's a "partial repeal of the First Amendment" not a "flag burning" amendment.

      by MRL on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:24:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good hints (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MRL, stitchmd

        I'll add:

        At least in my area, the lights really ARE timed if you drive at the speed limit.  I rarely stop at more than 1 out of the 6 on my daily route.  Every day, I see the same cars/trucks burn off, accelerate to 60-70 (in a 45 zone) and then jam on their brakes at the next light.  Sadly, one day I saw one of them "T-boned" running the light. :(

        My co-workers often "carpool" errands at lunch - one goes to Target, one to the dry cleaners, one to the grocery for a few items and hopefully, one gets lunch for us all.  It takes some cash but works well - plus we are all doing favors for one another.

        Also, silly as it seems - I try to plan my car errands for a light traffic time and always in a clockwise route.  Using only right turns at lights saves gas and time.

        The truth always matters.

        by texasmom on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:55:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  On the other hand (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      theran, wmtriallawyer

      you can get a used German diesel for about $5,000 and have it retrofitted for bio-diesel.  They last forever and they are classy.

    •  Part of the coming Energize America 2020 ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      melo, peeder

      ...proposal is to provide incentives of up to $6,000 for people who buy the most fuel-efficient cars - whether they are hybrids or not. This won't BUY you a new car, but it will assist.

    •  You're absolutely right. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Alegre, TheBlaz

      I can hardly make it this far in this diary without gagging at the elitism, holier than thou, lecturing that is going on.  Pay attention to the responses you get to your comment.  They not only go ahead and give you more, they're proud of it.

      •  Yeah - I've Noticed (0+ / 0-)

        Holier than thou doesn't even begin to describe some of these kids.  And I'm guessing they ARE kids - 20- or 30-somethings who haven't yet settled down to start a family.  Living in a group house, sharing expenses, and biking everywhere.

        And feeling oh so PROUD of their efforts while looking down their pointed little noses at the rest of us.  Like we don't try to do our part and are nothing but leaches.

        If they only knew what we do day in and day out.  But they don't give a shit - they're too busy patting themselves on the back.

        Bloggin' with a bar of soap and my car window IMPEACH -8.75 / -6.10

        by Alegre on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 08:56:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Some folks really have a chip on thei shoulder... (0+ / 0-)

          Hopscotch, Alegre...

          FYI, I'm 46, employed, with 2 kids and a spouse.

          I bike to work or ride the train because I enjoy the exercise and like to save money.

          And I save my anger for the people and politicians who make it necessary for us to own the one car we do own just to function in the city.

          Getting angry is a choice, and you can learn a lot about people by who and what they choose to get angry at.

          I'm sorry that you feel somehow personally attacked by the ideas in this thread (and maybe you were attacked somewhere... I can't swear I read every post), but I don't see the arrogance and elitism that you see here.  

          I see people talking about a reality that many people find so threatening that when you point it out to them they FEEL as if you are attacking them... and yet that is not what is going on at all.

          That's what I see.

          •  And once again some more of it. (0+ / 0-)

            Pardon us for "misdirecting" our anger, at a place you don't approve of it going.  May I have your permission to feel ------ about-------, please.

          •  You Bike to Work Because (0+ / 0-)

            you CAN.  There's the difference between you and me.

            You're reality is very different from mine and you obviously can't accept that.  In fact many of you insist that your reality is (or MUST be) mine - that's where the arrogance and elitism comes into these discussions.

            Bloggin' with a bar of soap and my car window IMPEACH -8.75 / -6.10

            by Alegre on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 11:25:05 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Hmmm... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mateosf

              Hopscotch, direct your anger where you will.  It's instructive.

              Alegre, Yes, I do so because I can, and because I rearanged my life from LA to Portland to live in a city where that would be possible.  

              I don't think anything that I said suggests that I can't accept your reality.

              I think your situation of dependency on fuel consumption is at the heart of the upcoming American tragedy.   I have no problem accepting THAT.    

              I'm sure we disagree on how far away the demise of the oil economy is, or whether it makes sense to do anything differently on a personal level.  

              As for the arrogance and elitism, well, isn't that something people just say about people they don't like?  

              I see oil companies and the Bush administration as elitists.  I see car companies and the road construction industry as elitist (because they lobby for and build a world which forces me to own a car, and that car is going to get too expensive to operate soon.)

              I see people working on how to live without cars and superhighways as salt of the earth regular folk like me and maybe you.  You want to flip that around and say that I'm an elitist because I ride a bike and take a train?  

              You are right that it wasn't easy to afford a closer in house, or to move to a city where I could do that...  but we scrimped and saved and made that choice.  Because of my choices maybe I'm in a better position than you to deal with the rising price of gas?  But is THAT elitist?   How so?

              Are you really suggesting that you can't make the choices I made because I'm in some kind of different economic or social class from you?   I doubt that I am.  

              When a poor person struggles to buy a car to get to work, I congratulate that person on finding a solution to his personal problem, but what a waste that this low income person is pretty much forced to throw money into a car just to get from home to job.  I'm not against the guy with the car, I'm against the people who designed our nation so that the poor man's best choice is pay for a car.    

  •  Straw-Men (17+ / 0-)

    Natural gas supplies are also tight.  That doesn't mean there weren't shenanigans in California two years ago.

    People are arguing past each other.

    On one level, the oil industry does not seem to be intentionally with-holding supply oil or gasoline to jack up the price, but there are many examples of such behavior in the past (see California above).

    Why do effects have to have only one cause?

    The key to turning back ANWAR is to make the point that turning on that tap full blast will step us back three months in global demand growth.

    It is true that peak oil isn't going to go away with greater transparency and accountability in the oil industry.  But greater transparency and accountability wouldn't hurt.

    How much foot-dragging is going on in the Katrina repairs?

    Why is this ethanol transition turning into such a fiasco?

    The answers to those questions don't solve the problems of the next twenty years, but they may solve some of the problems of the next six months.

    We need to be able to chew gum and walk at the same time.

  •  well done (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melo, bustacap, stitchmd, mateosf
    i don't bemoan the increased oil prices; nor do i take marked pleasure in them (as they really are putting a squeeze on a lot of people).  

    courtesy of several terrific jerome diaries here, it seems reasonable that supply is more likely at the core of the matter. opec members are running full spigot. new reserves discoveries are flat. as you point out, "just make more" is not an option.

    but "just make different" IS an option, and it's been time to get hopping onto that task for quite some time.  consistently high oil prices should serve to motivate overcoming collective inertia regarding conservation and alternatives--and that is something i can truly get fired up about.

  •  Heard on Fox (16+ / 0-)

    yesterday, and I don't watch Fox so have no idea who was talking (I was at a patient's home, they all seem to watch Fox whether they're liberal or conservative), that this of course is the fault of LIBERALS for passing environmental laws. I knew we were gonna get the blame at that point.
    I agree with you.

    I've done a lot of reading about oil lately, because I pretty much have to drive -- I deliver home health services to people. I,too, want to believe that this is a plot by big oil (who are undeniably greedy bastards) and that the billions of gallons of oil still in the ground are surely enough.

    But:
    a) there is a point at which we are using more energy to take oil out of the ground than we are getting. There may be billions and trillions of oil in the ground, but if it takes 1.1 gallons of oil energy to get 1 gallon out, then they will stay in the ground. It is impossible to totally retrieve all the oil in the ground, but of course countries that have the resource still claim that oil.
    b) as long as we continue this insane dependance on a non-renewable resource, we are going to have wars over access to it. And ultimately, it will all be used up ANYWAY. The solution WAS to do what Carter was doing in the 70's and promote alternatives while the supply was still there. How much better off would we be now if we were getting most of our energy from a mixture of alternatives?
    But no. We just vilified Carter in his sweaters and continued our delusion.

    I'm really sorry that some of you can't see the forest for the trees on this. Like I said, I depend on my car for my very livlihood. I can't bus to patient's homes -- I have to take the least amount of time to see the most amount of patients. I can't ride a bike in the Sacramento heat from patient to patient without arriving a smelly, sweaty mess -- and I'd have to haul a cart after my bike with all my equipment!
    The bottom line is that I may be looking at returning to floor nursing (bad, bad for my failing and aching arthritic knees) or to telephone triage nursing (which does not pay nearly as well and may not cover my expenses, much less allow me to save).
    I wish that peak oil was a myth. I wish it more than anyone.

    •  on your point about costs (5+ / 0-)

      On NPR this morning, there was a report on someone who was developing new, 'clean' ways to burn coal, because, as they said, "coal is as cheap as dirt."

      Coal? Cheap?

      Tell that to the families of the miners who died in the recent, well-publicized mine disasters.

      Tell that to the people in West Virginia and eastern Kentucky who are living with the effects of turning the spectacular Appalachian mountains into the topography of Nebraska.

      Everything has a cost, particularly when it comes to energy. The sooner we recognize that, the better.

    •  Let me correct this... (0+ / 0-)

      a) there is a point at which we are using more energy to take oil out of the ground than we are getting. There may be billions and trillions of oil in the ground, but if it takes 1.1 gallons of oil energy to get 1 gallon out, then they will stay in the ground. It is impossible to totally retrieve all the oil in the ground, but of course countries that have the resource still claim that oil.

      We are no where near this point.  Economics prevent the recovery of oil and will do so in our lifetimes, not thermodynamics.

      As oil fields are self-pressurized, the only energy expended is drilling the relatively small hole and producing the surface facilities.

      •  Unh... (0+ / 0-)

        No, only a very short lived early art of a well is self-pressurized. Then you have to start pumping water in to force the oil up. Put in too much water too fast, and the field degrades and you trap oil. This is the take of Ghawar in Saudi.

        •  You can run the pumps... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          deathsinger

          ...off the gas from "stripper" (Barely producing) wells in the US... and still produce a good deal of methane.  

          The actual energy cost of pumps or pressurization is very small compared to the return.

          Heck, they even use steam floods in some areas, which involves not only pressurized injection, but the vaporization of large quantities of water.

          Oil is so energy positive it's nuts.

  •  Well done! And thank you!!! (0+ / 0-)

    "In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder, a secret order." Carl Jung

    by Unduna on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 09:34:21 AM PDT

  •  Most of your options aren't available (7+ / 0-)

    out here in rural areas.  Rollerblades not much fun off the pavement for example; public transportation not an option, etc.

    Me, I just budget driving carefully, and have a very green/energy efficient house.

    •  you have exercised your options (4+ / 0-)

      kudos to you.

    •  Car pooling (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MRL, seaprog, plymouth, means are the ends

      Car pooling and informal taxis are a rural tradition, especially for shopping trips and trips for healthcare.

      The fact that the ususally listed solutions apply more to suburbs should not discourage folks from taking seriously the necessity of figuring out how to deal with this issue in rural areas.  And the necessity to deal with it as a matter of local public policy and not just trying to change habits.

      •  Car Pooling -- Amen (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        seaprog, TheBlaz

        This debunks many (not all, but many) of the suburban complaints about the pricing situation.

        We have car pooling here in the city too -- its called the bus or the train.  We car pool with hundreds and thousands of others.  And we do it on someone eles's schedule.

        The suburban roads are packed with folks driving cars by themselves.  Car pooling is probably an option for some (many?).

        Plus, think of it this way:  I pay $2.00 each way on the El and the Bus to get to work.  $4 a day.  Gas is still less than $4.  If your crazy car gets even 25 mpg, you can do a round trip of a dozen miles each way for the less than I pay to commute.

        It's a "partial repeal of the First Amendment" not a "flag burning" amendment.

        by MRL on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:42:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  What you pay to commute (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          seaprog

          What you pay to commute on a bus or train bears no relationship to the actual costs of running the transit system.  That is because not all seats are full all the time but service requires that the buses and trains continue to operate.  You are paying part of the cost of the lost revenue because more people don't use buses and trains.

          And transit substitutes for costs other than gasoline costs.  In places where there is good public transportation, people can do without automobiles.  The cost of transit then substitutes for the cost of a car, the cost of financing a car, the cost of insuring a car, and the cost of maintaining a car.  I can assure you that that amount is much more per day than $4.00.

          But people are not good at calculating hidden costs, especially when it involves mild inconvenience.

          •  Missed my point (0+ / 0-)

            My point had nothing to do with what I pay versus what things cost.

            If it did, you'd be extending my point out even further.  Imagine I pay only 1/2 of the CTA "cost" then the suburban person would be able to drive even further for the comparable price (or pay an even higher gas price for the same distance).

            My point was only that although we cityfolk have "options" (like biking to work in the -20* temps in January in Chicago) but we also are ALREADY paying more in commuting costs than many in the burbs.

            It's a "partial repeal of the First Amendment" not a "flag burning" amendment.

            by MRL on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 05:41:20 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Think outside the box about carpooling (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        melo

        I have been trying to promote carpooling in my community for the past six months, and the response has been at best, lukewarm.  

        There are issues about carpooling, but they can be resolved in some, if not most cases:

        1.  Trust:  people don't want to get in the car with strangers.  Solution:  set up carpool systems, using ride boards or existing internet sites, with trusted groups of people.  For example, set up a carpool system at your work, your church, your school, your local Demcratic party headquarters, or in your small rural community (where everyone knows everyone). I put a ride share board up in my local food co-op. Use common sense.  Meet people in public places. Tell someone where you are going, and with whom.  Ask to see a drivers license.  
        1.  Difficulty in making matches:  Internet carpool matching systems now exist that are set up to make it easy for people.  Check out www.erideshare.com.  If you live in Portland, Oregon, check out www.carpoolmatchnw.org  I'm sure there are scores of other sites around the country.  The more people begin to try these out, the more we will have the critical mass that makes carpooling work.
        1.  Stubbornness:  Face your own reluctance to share your (car) space, to extend a helping hand to someone else, to encounter the stranger, to compromise on your travel route, departure time, etc.

        We needed carpooling before the rising price of oil caught our attention.  It's a teachable moment.  Take advantage of it if you can.

    •  And I'm stockpiling firewood from my acreage, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      theran, texasmom

      learning about foraging wild food, and putting in an extensive organic food garden and mini-orchard with chickens. I'm also lucky enough to live down the street from a truck farm, and three of my close neighbors also raise livestock (horses, poultry, goats, pigs, sheep) as well as cultivate homestead gardens, so I have a place to go to for advice and to barter goods and produce.

      I work out of my house. We have two cars (a Honda and Oytota) but we carpool and combine trips whenever possible. We generate one kitchen-size bag of trash per week, and recycle the rest at our local recycling center.

      I'm also working on my town's Master Plan committee and encouraging the town to make itself more conducive to local businesses so that folks who live in my town won't have to drive 20 minutes just to get milk and a newspaper.

      Of course, with 100 new houses in two separate subdivisions proposed for my town, it all may just be spitting into the wind.

      There is but one surefire way to vanquish conservatives, and that is to beat the shit out of them."--David Podvin

      by Sharoney on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 12:27:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Does your zoning allow (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        melo, Land of Enchantment

        clotheslines in subdivisions?  Our does not, which is only one of the many reasons I live in the country.  

        (along with watching fireflies while drinking a beer on the back porch in my sleep clothes)

        The truth always matters.

        by texasmom on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 02:01:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  This is the kind of thing... (0+ / 0-)

          ...that should have been declared "unpatriotic" after Sept. 11.  When people wanted to do something/anything.  It could have been rendered fashionable to conserve energy by hanging laundry.  Would have been relatively easy to overturn such zoning ordinances then.  (What are these people thinking anyhow?  What's wrong with clotheslines?)  And could have cut mega-megawatts of energy consumption.

          •  For a patriotic clothesline... (0+ / 0-)

            you can come photo ours.  It has been dark blue with red and white stripes since 1994.  One of my really weird wishes come true - and a little rust fits in great!

            The truth always matters.

            by texasmom on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 06:24:05 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  OPEC claims that there are no more oil buyers (12+ / 0-)

    We are not talking about a normal supply/demand curve. We are talking about the price of oil being pumped up by fears that Iran would close the Straits of Hormuz if the U.S. attacked. Commodity speculators are driving up the price of oil now, betting on future interuptions even though oil is relatively plentiful.

    You can blame the high price of oil on George Bush's mouth.

    Yesterday, the Saudi Oil minister said:

    You know and I know that the reason the price is where it is is not from a shortage of (crude oil) supply," he said.

    Also:

    An OPEC statement after Monday's talks said "crude volumes entering the market are currently well in excess of actual demand, as levels of stocks in OECD countries demonstrate.

    There is plenty of oil. The Saudi Minister also said yesterday that they would be selling more oil, but no one would buy any more. I can't find the direct quote, but I read that statement on Dow Jones News Service.

    •  Does he do it on purpose? (6+ / 0-)

      I agree that the price of oil only goes up in the long run, but I don't think that $75.00/barrel accurately reflects the demand/supply curve at the moment.  

      I don't believe that multinational oil companies are simply price takers not price makers.  They share in that $75 per barrel because they have long term contracts at much less than that.

      Making a mess out of Iraq has cuts its production by half.  Remember the jokes from Leno about how oil would be free after we took over Iraq?  Didn't happen that way.

      The threats on Iran are also not helpful.

      Does Bush run the price of oil up on purpose?  From a political point of view that seems stupid, but then he's not running again and he's got buddies and family that are getting rich off of his mishaps.

      •  Of course it is on purpose! (0+ / 0-)

        The main purpose is to deflect attention away from how bad it is in Iraq, using scare tactics.

        The secondary goal is to make sure his oil buddies are profiting handsomely so that they can contribute to the Republican reelection campaign and to his Presidential Library... Oops. I forgot, he does read. The Predidential Cartoon Collection.

    •  Is that the same crude oil (0+ / 0-)

      that Saudi Arabia tried to sell last year?
      I´ve read a newspaper article 1-2 days ago, maybe based on this, saying that Kuwait was proposing to raise OPEC production by 2 mbd (OPECs current swing reserve).
      The reporter though mentioned that this could be the heavy sour crude that they couldn´t sell last year because most refineries can´t refine it.

    •  Uh... (5+ / 0-)

      The Saudis have also said for the past few years they would increase supply...and then didn't.

      They also said Ghawar was not declining. It is.

      They also magically have claimed the same total number of reserves over the past 15 years. While pumping out a ton. While not discovering any major new fields.

      But this time they're being honest. Uh huh.

      •  Saudi Oil (0+ / 0-)

        For years through the 90s they were producing at roughly 9 mbpd. The last number I saw was about 10.5.

        Not that I believe anything they say, but in this case they would have no monetary incentive to talk the price down by saying the world is afloat in oil.

        That is, unless they were trying to use reverse logic.

    •  Do you trust the Saudis to tell us the truth (0+ / 0-)

      whether oil is running out?

      Come on. Surely you jest.

      There is but one surefire way to vanquish conservatives, and that is to beat the shit out of them."--David Podvin

      by Sharoney on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 12:29:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Levels of stocks are mostly a contrary indicator. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      melo, mateosf

      I think the oil minister knows this very well.

      Oil companies run their stocks high (near top of the tanks), intentionally, when they believe that prices will be going up in the future.

      The reason is obvious:  buy oil and oil products now while it's cheaper and sell a bit later when it's more expensive.

      If oil is going up and up and yet tanks are high it means only one thing:  oil intermediaries (refiners and transporters) believe that despite the currently high crude price, it's going to go even higher.

      They could be wrong, but the profit motive makes them pay keen attention to all the facts.  

      Oil futures have been "in contango", with long-dated futures higher than near-term ones---the opposite of how most commodity markets work and the way that oil traded for decades.

      The most likely situation is that peak oil has hit and that suppliers are increasingly unable/unwilling to supply the volumes demanded except at higher prices.

      Summary: the Saudi oil minister is spewing clever propaganda, and I bet he knows it.

      If prices really were at a temporary high despite underlying fundamentals, then futures would be in clear "backwardation" with near delivery much higher than longer term delivery.

      If the Saudi oil minister were to say, "Sorry guys, peak oil is real and Ghawar is losing pressure", (likely the truth) imagine the consequences.

      • US would be shocked and actually start real energy conservation
      • Saudi population would be even more radicalized and disillusioned to hear that their only export is starting to run out, and the wealth was spent by dissipative royals.

      Fascism is indistinguishable from any parody thereof.

      by mbkennel on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 02:37:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  So you are saying that (0+ / 0-)

        supply/demand does not work. When prices go up, oil companies hoard oil to maximize profit and driving the price higher. Makes perfect sense. Then what is all this claptrap about efficient markets? If your claim is true, then would not this strategy of willingly withholding oil from the market be some form of price gouging?

        It rather reminds me of Enron and the California electricity crisis.

        Anyway, gas and oil inventory remain at extremely high levels. In fact, it is possible that for nat gas, because of the warm winter there will be a shortage of storage capacity! The contago is purely caused by the fear that the U.S. will do something rash, like attacking Iran. And maybe the possibility of disruptions from Nigeria, Venezuela, and hurricanes thrown in.

        •  Supply/demand duality (0+ / 0-)

          supply/demand does not work. When prices go up, oil companies hoard oil to maximize profit and driving the price higher

          The point is that future risk is priced in already.  Restate ``I think prices will go up in the future'' as ``I don't think I will be able to buy more oil next week for the price I can sell at today'' and you'll understand better.

          A lot of people have been claiming---with no justification---that the future risk is fake.

          If you think you're that far ahead, then get the chips in the middle of the table!

          by theran on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 06:37:12 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I am not saying the future risk is fake (0+ / 0-)

            I am saying that based on current normal supply and demand factors, the price of oil and gas are unreasonably high.

            They have been force higher by George Bush's warmongering on Iran, the Iraqi oil bust, and other fears real or imagined. In this case the Saudis are right. They have more oil than they have customers.

            Future risk is all priced in alright, and it is all to the downside! This is the third oil cycle since the 1970s. In 1975 and 1981 oil prices collapsed after very steep price rises.

  •  Hello, My name is ___ . I'm American and (13+ / 0-)

    I'm a Gaso-Holic

     title=

    Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity. Horace Mann

    by Kayakbiker on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 09:41:11 AM PDT

  •  Gouging isnt the issue (6+ / 0-)

    You are correct in your analysis.

    The issue is the wild price fluctuations.

    2-3 weeks ago I went to get some gas for the mower.  Gas was 2.59.  About 3 days later I went to get gas for car.  It was now 2.89.  I had a convo with the register girl that gas would be 3 dollars by summer.  Well I only had to wait a week!  I can easily see $3.75 by July

    When the average Joe who does not follow geo-politics sees gas go up, up, up and then come Sept or October sees it going down, the price appears to be mutable.  Its not like a nickel more every week or so, it just jumps 50 cents.  This translates in their heads as gouging.

    Now someone just needs to be honest and tell folks, Gas is now $3.  and will just get higher and nothing is going to change it.

    We should also be tieing gas prices to Bush's foreign failed policy.  You know invading Iraq, a couple of attempted coups in Venezuala and threatening to nuke Iran.  

  •  The BEST oil diary yet! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    plymouth, mateosf, hypersphere01

    Thank you for stating this so effectively.

  •  My prediction (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    plymouth, dharmafarmer

    In 3 years, gas will be $10 a gallon or thereabout.  It'll be interesting.

    OVER HERE: AN AMERICAN EXPAT IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE, is now available on Amazon US

    by Lupin on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 09:47:23 AM PDT

  •  Reframe Oil Prices as a Military Failure (9+ / 0-)

    The Republicans will have a hard time scapegoating the oil companies... but they'll find someone... perhaps immigrants.

    The Democrats will try to scapegoat the oil companies but they will be making fools of themselves when, if they gain power, there is absolutely nothing they can do about a supply and demand imbalance.

    The people who will be hurt are the middle and lower middle class fuel dependent suburban commuters, (and Wal Mart shoppers and food buyers... in other words just about everyone) and the question is how to frame a response to their suffering in a way that makes sense, given that the cause of their pain is deep in the oil dependent structure of our entire society.

    What answers will they believe really are answers?  

    I think the deep reason Americans went along with Iraq is because they thought that somehow it would assure our oil supply.  The fact that it has failed to do so (as was obvious to some of us) creates an opportunity to point out that you can't solve a supply problem with military force.   The rising price of energy creates an opportunity to question the value of a military designed to invade and control foreign resources.  "If we had invested those billions in more fuel efficient vehicles and in cities that are more compact and less transport dependent (the whole new urbanist agenda, appropriately phrased for mass consumption), then we wouldn't have gone into Iraq and tried to assure our oil supply."  

    These prices are conclusive demonstration of the failure of an aggresive military policy to assure the American "way of life."    Let's rethink the size of our military, and think of other ways of maintaining our "way of life", and let's think about what aspects of our "way of life" we really value, and what aspects we can do without (eg. our SUVs and our long commutes.)

    So tie the pain at the pump to the stench of failure that is wafting out of Iraq...

    "People dying for what?  We don't even get cheap gas!"    

    •  Reframe Oil Prices as a Failure of Militarism (4+ / 0-)

      I should have titled the above comment as a reframing in terms of the failure of militarism.

      It's not that our military failed... it's that military solutions can't work when the problem is essentially a global natural resource constraint.

      We say:

      "They sent our troops to fight and die, and they didn't even understand that it wouldn't help us anyway."

      We say

      "Those Republicans... they love to spend money on tanks, and love to talk about foreign threats and terrorists... but they don't understand that if you try to rob a bank that doesn't have any money, it doesn't matter how good your buddies (troops) are, and how cool your weapons are... there is still no money in the bank."

      (sorry about the double post of this comment further below.)

    •  Yes. Those of us who were jumped ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Miles, SherriG

      ...on for saying "No Blood for Oil" in the ramp-up to the invasion of Iraq were wrong. What it's turned out to be is "no oil for blood," with Iraqi production still not up to prewar levels. Soon, perhaps we can do the same in Iran.

      •  'We gave the blood, and we still don't have oil' (0+ / 0-)

        Yes, turn it around.

        But careful not to imply that we could have done a better job and succesfully shed blood to gain oil.

        That would only be true in an earlier era when supply was more plentiful.  

        "They promissed us oil for our blood... and they lied."

        Bad enough that someone's son got his arms blown off... but now you still have to pay $3.00 a gallon.  Sounds cynical but people actually care more about their pocketbooks than someone else's lifetime disability or death.  

        "The war not only hurts soldiers... it doesn't even help consumers."  

        "My army went to Iraq and all I got was higher gas prices."

  •  Dems can tap anger arising from high prices (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    seaprog, caseynm, StuartZ, The Walrus

    You're right - peak oil is upon us and the human race's wasteful ways with this scarce resource will lead to even higher prices.

    However, you may be right AND gas price gouging may actually ALSO be occurring.  Why might I think that?  Have you checked the obscene and extraordinary profits the gas companies have been taking to the bank?  In a competitive "free market", shouldn't the profits of the gas companies been squeezed by rising price of the raw material they use (oil in the barrel)?  

    But the Democrats CAN and SHOULD be tapping the anger that Americans feel looking at these obscene profits (during wartime I might add) and feeling the pain as they try to change driving habits to avoid having all their discretionary income eaten up at the gas pump.

    The Republicans and the Bush administration (filled with oil patch people) should rightly bear the blame for DOING NOTHING CONTRUCTIVE to solve this problem which they no doubt saw coming.  Their response to the coming shortage of oil was to use the US military to try to establish a New American empire in the middle of all the key oil regions.  Not only the Middle East (where they invaded Iraq and build permanent bases for our long-term military presence), but also in the oil-producing states that used to be Soviet clients (around the Caspian Sea).  This aggressive and militaristic attempt to control the world's oil by force has been an unmitigated disaster and has CAUSED some of the high per-barrel cost of oil, by destabilizing the region.

    A completely different approach would have been to encourage/force conservation in the US, reducing our dependence on foreign oil.  And to fund research and development of alternative energy approaches.  And to start a national program, like Brazil, heading toward extensive use of bio-fuels by encouraging/forcing dual fuel vehicles and pumping stations.  Our problem in this country is that we have had too many years of reliance on cheap gas & our living/working patterns now depend on the impossible continuation of cheap gas.  Federal subsidy of mass transit in our cities is necessary.  Federal support should be provided for development of communities where working and living are better integrated (and don't require long commutes).  However, the ONLY solution our current "leaders" have tried is military force - try to steal oil and intimidate oil-producing countries thru US military presence, threats, and saber-rattling.

    Back to the oil companies.  The Bush administration's non-enforcement of anti-trust laws has allowed mega-mergers in the oil business which have reduced/eliminated competition and ALLOWED the oil companies to follow each other's lead to higher prices, thus preserving windfall profits for all.  A RETROACTIVE windfall profits tax would not be unreasonable, but looking forward, would just force the gas companies into "Hollywood-style accounting" where their profits are hidden under layers of subsidiaries.  Still, maybe the Congress could call the oil execs back and take testimony UNDER OATH this time.  And maybe Cheney could reveal the full attendance list, subjects discussed, and minutes of the 2001 energy meetings he chaired.

    The Democrats should be demanding that the Republicans be held accountable for the mess we are in - this will NOT backfire against us.

    •  Sounds good, but it won't be easy (7+ / 0-)

      They should remind people that the Republicans, starting with Reagan, have scuttled all manner of programs aimed at supporting alternative energy development. Carter pointed out, almost 30 years ago, that this was necessary.

      Problem is, he spoke the truth. And we saw where that got him.

      People want easy answers; they want to go back to $0.99 a gallon; they don't want to hear the truth.

      So the Dems aren't really in a good place either, because the big problem is that people don't want to accept the truth. And ongoing stories about the 'gas price crisis' aren't helping, they're just feedingt the idea that it's a right to have cheap gas.

    •  Maybe.... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      seaprog, StuartZ

      But demagoguing the issue a la Menendez' 60-day gas tax suspension issue is the stupidest and most counter-productive way to go about it.

      But Menendez is from New Jersey, so that would be context appropriate.....

  •  Greedy Oil Companies? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tikkun, georgia10, stitchmd, Major Danby

    No just pragmatic sterwards of the earths natural resources.  Those profits are only temporary.

  •  Multiple realities (26+ / 0-)

    There is oil price gouging going on at the pump  AND we are nearing peak oil AND Bush is going to destroy any environmental regulation and natural preserve that he can using the excuse of making oil prices go down AND shutting down Iraq's production is a near-term cause of high prices AND the threat of nuking Iran is making the crude oil markets bid up prices.

    Crude oil prices are set by market forces but prices at the pump are set by "me too oil" company price fixing.  In a competitive market there would be some variation in prices because of differing information and transportation costs to consumers.  Oil prices are administered by the oil companies based on regional markets and the behavior of other oil companies in that market, all of which is a far cry from a purely competitive market. Seemingly, the only market force constraining this is the oil companies' assessment of how much to raise prices without triggering regulation.

    The unwillingness of the American people to come to grips with all of the issues with oil (including understanding that war in the Middle East is a huge subsidy to oil companies) does not mean that oil price gouging is a myth.  But it this unwillingness and not the "myth of oil price gouging" that is going to hurt us unless we can quickly do some educatin'.

  •  Reframe Oil Prices as a Failure of Militarism (3+ / 0-)

    I should have titled the above comment as a reframing in terms of the failure of militarism.

    It's not that our military failed... it's that military solutions can't work when the problem is essentially a global natural resource constraint.

    We say:

    "They sent our troops to fight and die, and they didn't even understand that it wouldn't help us anyway."

    We say

    "Those Republicans... they love to spend money on tanks, and love to talk about foreign threats and terrorists... but they don't understand that if you try to rob a bank that doesn't have any money, it doesn't matter how good your buddies (troops) are, and how cool your weapons are... there is still no money in the bank."

  •  Profiteering/price gouging (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DrKate

    There has indeed been something of a windfall over the past quarter or two, but that's almost always the case in a commodity industry when prices for the raw material rise.  The reason is that in a normal market, companies will price whatever they're selling based on its replacement cost, which in a rising market is going to be more than its historical cost.

    "Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed." General Buck Turgidson

    by muledriver on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 09:57:36 AM PDT

    •  That only explains revenues (0+ / 0-)

      What about profits?  If all that is happening is a reaction to the underlying resource price, why don't profits remain stable?

      Support your neighborhood bats.

      by DelRPCV on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:06:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I read that to mean that the oil companies (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DrKate

        are raising their prices based on the future costs of oil. That is profiteering/price gouging.

        "Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed." General Buck Turgidson

        by muledriver on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:27:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I believe that major oil (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DelRPCV

        is now drilling and producing from reserves (lands leased) acquired years earlier on long-term leases.  When oil was below $20, drilling was far too costly in terms of return (risk/profit ratio).  Now $70+ oil allows drilling on existing reserves, resulting in huge profits.  

        Of course, new technology has lowered the risk in many areas, while inflating drilling costs by 300% or more.  Leasing rights in North Texas are now going for $3000 or more an acre, up from $150-$250 in four years.  

        There is once again a race to find drilling rigs and crews.  It is always feast or famine in the oil business - with not too many years between the swing.

        The truth always matters.

        by texasmom on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:54:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Another contributor/gouger (0+ / 0-)

      While I agree with much of what was said above, some of these spikes may have been deliberately caused by the advent of "just-in-time" (snark) gas delivery by oil companies/refiners. See this link for an explanation.

  •  Serious Question (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bustacap, StuartZ

    Why doesn't congress simply require (or offer huge tax discounts) that every new consumer vehicle produced be Flex Fuel compatible?

    yeah yeah yeah... I know, it is run by the GOP.
    But in all seriousness, do you think a Dem congress would actually have the guts to be this forward looking?

    #1 A huge boost to domestic farmers
    #2 Closer to Energy Independence

    Why the hell haven't we done this... yesterday?!

    •  Part of the reason is (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Garden Liberally

      that there is a legitimate argument over whether production of biofuels is really energy efficient.

      -7.88, -6.72. I AM paying attention, and I am so fucking outraged I can't see straight. TORTURE and ILLEGAL SPYING ON AMERICANS are not family values!

      by caseynm on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:40:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Or enviro friendly (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SecondComing, Garden Liberally

        here is a quote that stuck with me about biodiesel

        In plain English, this means that every year we use four centuries' worth of plants and animals

        The orangutan is likely to become extinct because of deforestation in Malaysia for Palm Oil plantatins to produce biofuel

        •  Is exotic 'palm oil' necessary? (0+ / 0-)

          There is one guy I know of here in Columbus who outfitted his car to run on leftover grease that he gets from fastfood places.

          That, and we have such a HUGE country.  You don't think we could produce all the biodisel we need right here?

          •  Less than a percent (3+ / 0-)

            If you took all the waste vegetable oil in the whole country, and turned it into biodiesel, you'd make about a tenth of a percent of our petroleum consumption. If you took all the vegetable oil, and turned it into biodiesel, you'd get about a percent.

            The numbers to keep in mind are that we use about 20,000,000 barrels (42 gallons each) of oil PER DAY. A good bit of this is turned into gasoline and diesel fuel: about 525,000,000 gallons per day. That's a bit more than a gallon and a half per person per day. Which seems like the right order of magnitude, if the average person drives 20-30 miles a day in a car that gets 20 miles per gallon, filling up the tank every 10 days or so.

            But do we consume a gallon and a half of vegetable oil per day? Whether agribusiness produced, organically farmed, or home-grown, that's the scale of vegetable oil we'd need to ramp up to in order to replace petroleum.

            There might be a possibility with some sort of algae farming, but that's never been done on a huge scale. So if we're talking about regular crops, then no, I don't think we could produce all the biodiesel we need right here.

        •  U.S. uses corn- and soybean-derived ethanol (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          hopscotch1997

          We have giant swaths of land that could be turned in to corn and soybean fields.  They aren't that way right now because the profit for corn and soybeans doesn't permit it.  
          We could turn the midwest/plain states into our very own "Saudia Arabia" with respect to energy production.
          Imagine what it'd do for our economy if our petro-dollars were instead invested in the American heartland.

          •  Conventional corn & soybean farming (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            pletzs

            is already extremely energy-inefficient - more energy goes in (in the form of chemical fertilizers and pesticides derived from petroleum or natural gas) than comes out.

            See this article ("The Oil We Eat") for more, as well as this one ("Eating Fossil Fuels") for more about the massive inefficiencies of the industrial farming model.

            Converting more land to corn and soybean farming would be both an energy and an environmental disaster. I encourage you to read Michael Pollan's recent book, "The Omnivore's Dilemma", to see just why. (You can download the first chapter free from here).

      •  Wow (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Floja Roja

        I had no idea how uneducated I was in this area (Not snark, serious comment)

        When I have more time I should look into this.

      •  Corn-based Ethanol, and Soy-based biodiesel... (0+ / 0-)

        have energy balances of approximately 1.1 and 3.2, respectively, meaning you get 10% more energy making ethanol from corn as you put in and 320% more out of biodiesel from soy.

        But those aren't the best feedstocks for producing biofuels either.  Switchgrass is more efficient for ethanol, and algae can also be extremely efficient for biodiesel.  And algae doesn't need as much space (or quality topsoil) for production.

        I believe there is no sustainable way to keep up with our current transportation needs.  But the transition could be a bit more smooth than, say, the oil embargo of the '70's...

        Political Protest Techno by gee dub bee. Yes, techno. No, really.

        by geedubbee on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 04:47:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sugar (0+ / 0-)

          Cane and Beets are among the best traditional plants for this. I have no idea why we aren't doing more with those.

          •  Because there are import quotas on foreign sugar (0+ / 0-)

            It protects domestic sugar producers, thereby increasing the price, and makes sugar substitutes, like corn fructose syrup for sweeteners or corn ethanol, much more competitive.

            It's why we've had a blatantly protectionist sugar quota since the Second World War despite the fact that only a couple of states have a climate conducive to growing sugar. It's why politicians from Illinois, Iowa, and Indiana support limiting import restrictions on sugar even though no one grows sugar in these states.

            Sponge Bob, Mandrake, Cartoons. That's how your hard-core islamahomocommienazis work.

            by Benito on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:35:10 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  you can't change the perception (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    seaprog, bam101, stagemom
    Right now the public perception seems to be thus:

    a.  Oil prices are high for me.
    +
    b.  Oil companies are making record profits.

    =c.   Oil companies are ripping me off.

    That seems to be the public perception from my "ear to the ground".

    I don't see how anyone can change that perception.  Scream about it all you want, that's what your average uninformed American thinks.

    The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer -- Henry Kissinger

    by theyrereal on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:01:30 AM PDT

    •  Agreed that is what is assumed (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      stitchmd, SherriG, pissedpatriot

      by the majority of Americans and while overly simplified it doesn't make them wrong.

      What the diarist, mateosp, fails to take into account is market manipulation.

      I fail to be able to meld the economic duality that at the same time the world is producing more oil then ever oil costs are going through the roof. That flies in the face of free market supply and demand economics.

      So why is this happening? Speculative investing with the strawmen of, regional instability, China/India, and financed by BIG oil to drive up the price.

      5% profit on "widget A" at a sale price of $1 is a nickel. Drive the price up to a sale price of $4 at the same 5% profit and you're making 20 cents profit a unit for the exact same product. What company wouldn't love that? What company wouldn't do that?

      That doesn't mean we can't hold the companies responsible for manipulating the market -  cutting back on production, inflated speculative investment.

      I have no problem with free market supply demand economics, but yes I do see manipulation of the market as price gouging.

      Quotes from others express a mental laziness in themselves.

      by rudgrl on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:26:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Bill Clinton predicts $100/barrel (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        seaprog, melo, theran, plymouth

        The Indians and Chinese are in this huge fight now to see who can get the most oil. We may be at a point of peak oil production. You may see $100 a barrel oil in the next two or three years, but what still is driving this globalization is the idea that is you cannot possibly get rich, stay rich and get richer; if you don't release more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. That was true in the industrial era; it is simply factually not true.

        http://www.egovmonitor.com/...

        He also says this in the same speech:


        The new energy economy is underfinanced, under organized, entrepreneurial and in need of the type of research and development work that we routinely did when we were trying to sequence the human genome or go into space. But just with existing technologies for conservation and clean energy, we can more than meet the Kyoto protocols if we were remotely serious about the targets and in the process create jobs in the developed and developing world on a scale that is otherwise unimaginable to me. It is just a question of whether we accept this, but I can only tell you that I have studied this data seriously. I consider it an existential threat to your future. It may be the most remote security threat you face, but the only one who has the chance to change the life of everybody on the plant for the worst. And yet it is a phenomenal opportunity.

        Ah, to have Clinton back in power.   I don't even like the guy that much, but he sure is a great leader.   Peace and prosperity and positive-thinking ......... Remember those days?

        The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer -- Henry Kissinger

        by theyrereal on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:40:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  what (0+ / 0-)

      what oil company you work for?

  •  Does the phrase (5+ / 0-)

    "record-breaking profits" mean anything to you?

    Yes, ride a bicycle.  What does that have to do with support for a windfall profits tax?

    My apologies to students who took my U.S. Government class in the 90s: evidently the Constitution doesn't limit Presidential power after all. Who knew?

    by Major Danby on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:02:02 AM PDT

    •  Yes, it means that (0+ / 0-)

      My parents were really, really smart to keep their house during DC's economic downturn in the '80's, and that they'll make a lot of money because they held on to their investment and now it's worth 4,000 percent what they paid for it.

      Really, it's just like the oil companies. Those profits are based on investments they made 30 years ago. Unless you are personally willing to give up all profits on your 401K o 503b or IRA or whatever, I don't believe you want to go down the road of forcing oil companies to pay back what they rightfully earned through their own investments.

      Or maybe you are? If so, I'll gladly help you lighten your load of windfall profits from the dotcom era and any other excess cash that's weighing down your heavy conscience.

      I am the federal government.

      by mateosf on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 05:56:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Heh... (0+ / 0-)

        They should sell now. The DC bubble is popping.

        •  It's cool, they'll die in that house. (0+ / 0-)

          And it's the condo bubble that's popping anyway; they've got a yard & a garage in the #1 family-friendly hood in the city.

          No matter when they sell, they're gonna make a killing - paid it off in the late 80's. But thanks. Liked your comments in the threads.

          I am the federal government.

          by mateosf on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 06:35:30 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  WE FUCKING DRAFT PEOPLE (0+ / 0-)

        (unofficially, of course) to fight and die in Iraq!  They give their lives!

        And you want me to weep tears if they oil companies, whose product is intergral to U.S. national security, don't get to keep every last cent of their profits?  With all that those soldiers, and the rest of us through our taxes, have done for them?

        Oh, I think I'll shed my tears elsewhere, thank you very much.  I do not think that a windfall tax plan to roll oil company profits back to a reasonable level based on the wisdom of their investments will hobble capitalism.  Capitalism is resilient.

        The substantial proportion of my wealth comes from wages rather than investment, by the way, and the exceptions are almost all in social choice based funds, not because I think it's the smartest investment move, but because I think it's right.  Boo-hoo.

        My apologies to students who took my U.S. Government class in the 90s: evidently the Constitution doesn't limit Presidential power after all. Who knew?

        by Major Danby on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 07:40:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's cool, I'll send you my account number (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dwahzon

          and you can deposit your profits when you're feeling more calm. I'm an all-wage guy, myself, so could use the boost.

          Because it's the profits that are evil, right? Investment today for future profit is what's wrong, right?

          Or tell me the point I'm missing - and apologies, but I don't understand your argument better with exclamation points.

          My point is that the only reason oil is integral to U.S. national security is because Americans and our leaders make it so. It doesn't have to be this way, and if we'd be honest about the cause of our problems and stop playing the victim, we could begin our recovery.

          I am the federal government.

          by mateosf on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 08:09:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Gah. (0+ / 0-)

            There, no exclamation points.

            When you say "the only reason oil is integral to U.S. national security is because Americans and our leaders make it so," I think that you remove the need to argue with you.  Note, I do not argue that "oil should be integral" or that "oil will always be integral," which are the counterfactual flies at which you are apparently swatting.  I said "is."  Now.  Which you don't (and can't) deny.  And if you don't think a transition away from U.S. security being highly dependent on oil is going to be anything other than a violent cataclysm that would be difficult for a representative democracy to pull off even in the best of times, you are not reality-based enough to make arguing with you worthwhile.  If we're honest with ourselves, oil companies are part of the problem.

            No, investment profits are not intrinsically evil, nor have I said so.  But neither are they sacrosanct.  I'd like to see them used for, oh, support for drastic conservation measures and vibrant, throbbing, frenzied, captivating, ecstatic research into alternative energy.  The oil companies are instead using them to give greedy executives gargantuan bonus and severance packages.  Sorry, oil companies, but your excess profits, like so many bewildered National Guardsmen, now have to be pressed into national service.  Don't worry, it's only for a limited time.

            My apologies to students who took my U.S. Government class in the 90s: evidently the Constitution doesn't limit Presidential power after all. Who knew?

            by Major Danby on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 08:42:03 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Bullshit (10+ / 0-)

    That's a bunch of gibberish. Saying the stock market P/E ratio is the meter of whether an industry is "a great business" is nonsense. Did you learn nothing from the popped Internet bubble? Can't you see that investors are scared of owning oil corp stocks because any one of them could announce tomorrow that they lied about their country reserves (like Nigeria, Kuwait and Iraq already did), and they're going out of business in 5 years?

    Price gouging isn't some elaborate science that takes a 5 page diary to dissect. Oil corp profits are higher than ever, by a huge margin. It doesn't cost much more to get it out of the ground than it did 5 years ago. In fact, with upgraded tech and huge government subsidies, it costs less to produce. The extra profits are the result of market manipulation, including shortages, and especially the vast "uncertainty" that oil corps created with their control over the US government.

    All those vast extra oil corp profits are directly produced by price gouging. Where do you think they come from, god magically putting extra money in Exxon's pockets so they can reward their CEO for his faith?

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:06:11 AM PDT

  •  Seldom has an issue been more ripe (8+ / 0-)

    for demagoguery.

    Most people would rather not think about the real issues. They just want the gummint to "do something" about high gas prices so they can go back to sleep. (It will be tempting for Dems to say they're going to do something, but in reality there's little they can do.)

    Greedy oil companies are a convenient target, and would be sweating a lot more right now if they didn't own the U.S. government. Greedy middle-eastern sheiks would be another ready target, but after Iraq I suspect the public doesn't have much appetite for more adventurism over there. 'Course, if you threaten to take away their SUVs, they might grasp at any solution short of changing their habits.

    As I've been saying for over a quarter of a century, there is simply no alternative to Amercans lowering what we like to call our "standard of living." We can put it off for a while, but that only makes it worse when it hits. Of course, some of us think that we could do with a lot less and actually be a lot happier.

    But it's a tough sell to get people to radically rethink their existence.

    As much as I hate Tom Friedman, I kind of like his idea of a "floating" gas tax, that would be constantly adjusted to keep the price of gas at $4/gallon, no matter what crude oil prices do.

    News is what they don't want you to know. Everything else is publicity. --Bill Moyers

    by RobLewis on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:07:18 AM PDT

    •  yeah (0+ / 0-)

      yeah do you have any idea what kind of inflation would hit a  4 bucks a gallon.  My god people just don't understand that low energy cost is what helped build this country, to blame the citizens for building and living and depending on a pretty consistent energy cost/incom ratio is absurd ...ABSURD.

      Its like blaming the wife for getting beaten.  Blame the victim, the new slogan for 21st century america.

      •  No, you don't blame her for getting beaten (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        melo, thm, plymouth, stitchmd

        but you can blame her for not doing something about it--like leaving.  The point is: change the assumptions:  she doesn't have to stay in a relationship where she gets beaten, and we don't need (nor have the right) to assume that energy will always be cheap.

        And I think that's part of RobLewis's point:  change the assumption about what you have a 'right' to expect (husband-wise or energy-wise.)

        I've been saying for years that many 2nd and 3rd world countries aren't so much underdeveloped as we are tremendously overdeveloped.

        -7.88, -6.72. I AM paying attention, and I am so fucking outraged I can't see straight. TORTURE and ILLEGAL SPYING ON AMERICANS are not family values!

        by caseynm on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:56:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  have (0+ / 0-)

          have fun living in a 3rd world economy then.  Please don't bitch when oil keeps being manipulated higher and higher, since that is a good tihng it will lessen our use, it will also lessen our economy, lessen jobs, standard of living, but hey inflation will go through the roof. 15%+ interest sound fun...etc etc.

          Soup lines sound neat don't they?

          •  Are you delusional? (5+ / 0-)

            Do you think there is an infinite supply of oil?  There may well be some gouging (and I think the diarist is wrong on this point), but get used to higher prices and lower supply.  

            And the point is, an oil-based economy CANNOT be sustained indefinitely into the future.  The longer we delude ourselves into thinking it can, and the more we forestall cutting oil consumption now, the harder the fall will be.

            Another analogy:  If there's no more new income, you'd damn well better learn to live on less if you want the money to last longer.

            -7.88, -6.72. I AM paying attention, and I am so fucking outraged I can't see straight. TORTURE and ILLEGAL SPYING ON AMERICANS are not family values!

            by caseynm on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:42:41 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thats life (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              plymouth, Hardhat Democrat, Xerxes

              Americans assume that they have the right to live in exurbs, drive GMC Suburbans on 50 cent gas, and piss on the rest of the world.

              Personally I could handle living in a third world country.  Give me a machete, a hammock, and some mosquito netting. - I'll see you in the next life.

              Pissedpatriot, I assume, isn't quite ready for that.

              (if by "criminalization of politics" you mean politics being taken over by criminals, you are absolutely correct)

              by Drezden on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 12:05:05 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Hmmm. Having had some experience ... (6+ / 0-)

          ...with battering husbands whose paycheck keeps the wife and kids in shelter and food, I have a problem with blaming her even if she doesn't leave. The system IS fabricated against her. Progressives' goal should be to provide an alternative so that the victim/enablers can avoid the bad behavior - in this case, depending on oil and spending hundreds of billions for a military to defend that oil, "our" oil.

          I think that is what many Kossacks have been bellyaching about for the past few days. They feel they're being reamed for something about which they didn't have much choice. Or punished for making a bad choice that is difficult to extricate themselves from.

          Those of us who have an energy vision need to find a way to reach it without making life absolute hell for those we believe would benefit from living our vision.

          •  I keep saying (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Meteor Blades
            We need a gas tax combined with a rebate equal to median gas usage. That way, people get reimbursed for the tax on basic usage, but big consumers pay a premium for their behavior. Because the mean amount of gas used is higher than the median, that still provides revenue that can be directed to mass transit.

            This doesn't hurt the poor unless they are using more gasoline than average. The tax could also be phased in and flexible to make the price of gas predictable.

            This is just one idea, but the point is that it is possible to change behavior without ignoring the effect rising gas prices have on people just trying to get by.

            My political compass: -7.38, -8.00

            by seaprog on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:17:04 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  You're 100% right about the nature (0+ / 0-)

            of the problem, but what's the viable solution as you see it? I ask because I just haven't heard anything that sounds quite right to me.

            All of the seemingly viable alternative energy solutions appear to lie in the field of electrical transmission (solar, geothermal, tidal, wind, etc.) rather than stored fuels, and even those have major limitations. Ethanol and Biodiesel production at even a fraction of the rate we consume oil would be nearly impossible without an ecological nightmare, which indicates hydrogen is the cleanest, most viable option, assuming it could be mass-produced by solar technologies in sun-rich regions, or other clean means. I think more likely though, it'll just be made from coal, until that too starts to run out.

            I just don't see any viable solutions, but I'm too damned stubborn to believe they don't exist.

      •  People do understand (0+ / 0-)

        how low costs of energy built this country; hence the first line of the diary (before update.)

        However: the paradigm has changed. Energy is no longer low cost. And it's not just the direct costs; it's the indirect costs as well. Including the many, many costs to the environment, which Bush's new fix will only add to. And how much do you think that's going to drop your cost at the pump?

        There were legitimate reasons for immediate price increases following Katrina last year; refineries went immediately off-line and supplies were disrupted. And guess what? Gas usage hardly budged. You're right, the oil companies learned that they can take advantage of the situation, and an unregulated market has allowed them to do so.

        But, even taking away those profits, what do you think your cost at the pump would be? It's not going back to a dollar a gallon.

        And why do we seem to think that's our right, anyhow?

        All costs are increasing to be alive on this planet. Particularly energy, but others as well. It's the consequence of having a finite planet but a seemingly infinite source of demand: people.  One or the other has got to give.

    •  floating gas tax - great idea (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      seaprog

      I didn't know Friedman had suggested this.  I have thought this would be a good idea.

      I'd set a starting floor of $3, then raise the floor 1 cent each month.  If market price drops (eg OPEC flooding the market) the tax would maintain the floor price at the pump.  If tax revenues start to decline, then stop the escalation or even reverse it, gradually.

      •  And also... (0+ / 0-)
        Combine the tax with a rebate equal to the tax on median consumption that everyone gets no matter how much gas they use. That means you have predictable prices, an exemption on taxes for basic transportation needs, an incentive for everyone to use less gas (because each person only pays net tax if they use more than average), and a source of tax revenue for mass transit and energy alternatives.

        My political compass: -7.38, -8.00

        by seaprog on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:21:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  My prediction (0+ / 0-)

      is that gas would be $4 a gallon and the tax would generate nothing.

      The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.

      by deathsinger on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:30:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  In that case (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        theran
        Keep raising gas prices by a predictable amount each month so that people can slowly adjust and the total price is still predictable but above the pre-tax price.

        I also don't think revenue generation is the most important aspect of a gas tax. It's a nice side effect, but the important thing is to include some of the hidden costs of oil and gas in the price in order to use market forces in favor of conservation.

        My political compass: -7.38, -8.00

        by seaprog on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:25:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Not really Friedman's idea ... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      seaprog, melo, theran, SherriG

      ...this was first suggested 25 years ago.

      I also suggested editorially during the '80s and the '90s that the U.S. should have build a huge strategic oil reserve, buying when prices were low, maintaining the status quo when prices rose above a threshold point, which at the time I put at $30 a barrel - even with inflation, a pittance. now.

      Of course, nobody listened.

  •  The Cleveland Park House (7+ / 0-)

    analogy would be better though, if the government were paying your parents for the maintenance of their house and lowering their tax rates...which I bet isn't happening.

    Supply and demand isn't the only dynamic going on here.

    Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

    by barbwires on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:09:33 AM PDT

  •  They can't make it cheaper? Look at their profits (5+ / 0-)

    Seriously, the profit margin of these oil companies and members of OPEC are way off the charts.  Whatever OPEC is charging, US oil companies HAVE the money to lower prices, they HAVE the money to pay for enviromental regulation, they just don't want to pay it.  They don't need to drill in ANWAR, they don't need rollbacks of regulation, they NEED to be forced to CONTRIBUTE to this country, rather than just milking it dry.

    By just bringing their profits down to levels they were at five or ten years ago (such as with a FUCKING PRICE CAP) they could still show growth, rural areas that can't yet afford to switch to alternative fuels will have time to make the switch without falling into desperate poverty (as prices fall from the rest of us buying into them), and the economy could maintain its current job market, and probably even improve.

    Enough with the handholding of these companies, ("oh boo hoo, it's not their fault") enough with suggesting that instead of bringing these bastards in line we should just all ride a bike, or take a bus.  Well I can't take my kids to school on a bike, and there isn't a bus-line near me for twenty miles in any direction (and the hybrid doesn't erase my fuel costs).  These things are just not practical for most people, and worse, it sets a bad precedent that we can't contol big business.

    Well fine, you go ride your bike, all of you can quit your 'oil addiction', and you can feel smug and satisfied while you stick the bill on the people who are forced to depend on oil.  There is NO 'myth' of price gouging, the oil companies can easily afford to lower prices (there's no question, just look at their profits), people just need to stand together and demand price control from our elected officials.  Every person who jumps ship, and says it isn't their problem because they ride a bike, just makes it harder on all the rest of us fighting the good fight.

    "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -Bertrand Russell

    by Lord Kanti on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:09:39 AM PDT

    •  Free Market? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      seaprog, thm, bam101

      I'm all for socialism, but you can't just decide that companies can't make a profit anymore.
      Consumers are willing to pay, why shouldn't the companies have the choice to charge the most that they can?
      Oil companies make a lot...but their profits are based off an external market price...which is set in large part by US demand for oil.
      We are the junkies, blaming the pusher for charging us so much.  And then asking for sympathy.

      Just b/c a company is making a large profit does not mean it is price gouging.  I think you are actually talking about gas prices- and there is VERY LITTLE profit in gas prices - Jerome's post the other day showed this.  Profits are huge b/c oil is high- is that the oil company's fault?  Is it the oil company's fault that we use oil to such a high degree??
      Also- the oil co's are having trouble finding replacement reserves right now- we are pumping much more oil out than we are finding.  Those huge profits are needed to find more oil.  

      What the gov't could do is stop giving the Oil Co's tons of tax breaks.   That is plain silly.

      You are implicityly asking oil co's to sell to you cheaper than the open market price.  That is called charity and oil co's aren't non-profits.

      •  bullshit (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lord Kanti, lrhoke, mrd in nyc

        if we are at war, then the gov has every right to step in and ration profits.  Historical precendent is clear about that.

        To think that big oil has not manipulated the market to create such profits is naive. Oil prices are high because speculators know that refineries are low and that any of them being attacked or knocked off line would create a huge demand bubble.
        It is the lack of refineries at the heart of all this manipulated bullshit.

        •  Why is refinery capacity limited? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          seaprog, kd texan

          There are two simple reasons why refnery capacity is limited. One of them is the reason you cite: By keeping production just at consumption, the price can be maximized.

          But eventually the price will rise to the point where at best people move to alternatives and at worst economies collapse, driving demand through the floor. There is a limit to how much greed can dominate the market. One of those two points will be hit and the oil companies will lose big-time.

          The other reason is the more serious, and, I think, more telling. Bulding refinery capacity costs billions. A refinery would have to operate for a number of years to justify the capital outlay. If global production is going to peak and decline soon, why build refineries? They won't recover their costs.

          If this were pure market manipulation, why wait until now to do it? Why not stop building refineries 30 years ago? Were oil executives that much less greedy 30 years ago? I don' think so.

          I think the truth is we are in an energy bind that many have seen coming for decades. Now we have people who ignore the problem, people who deny the problem, people who are geting rich off the problem, and some people who are trying desperately to warn about the problem and to avert catastrophe.

          I hope the cornucopians are right. I hope the people who think this is a vast conspiracy by the oil companies are right. But I have not seen good evidence for any of it. Conspiracies are hard to maintain, especially on this scale. And while "the Deep, Hot, Biosphere" may be real, I have not yet seen any credible evidence. I've seen tanatlizing hints and possibilities, but the burden of proof still lies on them.

          Does anyone have good data on the claims the cornucopians make for Vietnam and Russia? I've only seen things from sources who link "peak oil" with Zionism -- in other words, persons whose objectivity I consider suspect...

          •  Even if the Deep Hotters are right ... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            seaprog, theran, evilpenguin

            ...it does us zero good because there is no way to get to whatever's there, and it won't percolate closer to the surface in time to help us.

          •  You lost me at (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            pissedpatriot

            Why not stop building refineries 30 years ago?

            While increases to refining capacity happen.  No new refinery has been built since, wait for it...
            ...
            ...
            ...
            ...
            1976.

            The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.

            by deathsinger on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 12:50:17 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks (0+ / 0-)

              Very interesting. I should have been more specific and said "why not stop adding capacity 30 years ago." But it is interesting that no separate facilities have been built since 1976.

              I know for a fact that capacity has been added at the Koch refinery here in Minnesota. I believe it was to handle heavier oil, but I don't know for sure. As I have often demonstrated here on Kos, I'm no expert. I'm not even up to "ignoramus."

              Of course, from 1976 through the early 80's the entire economy was fairly sluggish, and it really only hit its stride again in the 1990's. But I haven't got the slightest idea what the consumption curve looks like. I dimly recall that there was a fall-off in the curve that corresponded with the Carter era programs; the windfall profits tax, the CAFE standards, the 55 MPH speed limit, etc. Some experts (Deffeys, Simmons) credit those programs with throwing Hubbert's global peak prediction off. Me, I have to read their books and try to weigh their respecitive credibilities in the absence of technical knowledge or original source data. I studied history, not geology!

              According to Tyler Hubner of BIOWA (A University of Iowa Biotech advocacy group, it seems) in "Oil Refining in the United States, Past, Present and Future":

                                                Because a refinery’s margins are between only 2-15%, it has
              been economically unfeasible for any company to open a new refinery since 1976. In addition,
              the number of refineries was 223 in 1985 and stands at 144 in 2005.

                     However, U.S. refining capacity is greater now than ever before (17,042,000 barrels per day in January 2005 versus 15,659,000 in 1985), and refinery utilization has steadily risen to over 90 percent in recent years.

              So, as you say, there have been increases in capacity, but no new construction. That was news to me. I knew there hadn't been any recently, but I was not aware how far back it had been.

              Moreover, his paper points out that the number of refineries has decreased from 315 in 1985 to 144 in 2005 "due to reduced subsidies."

              From what I have read, the bulk of the present price increases are due to production capacity, meaning limitations on refining capacity. While Matt Simmons believes we passed the global peak late last year, there is far from concensus on this, and even if he is right, we may not know it for sure for another couple of years.

              So I have to stand corrected on the pulled-from-ass number of "30 years," but I will still ask Socratically, "Why didn't they stop adding capacity in 1920, or 1930, or 1950?" and I don't claim to know the answer. (I left out 1940's because of the war which clearly demanded oil and the gov't would have stopped gouging at gunpoint). I'm looking for someone to show me that conspiracy is a more reasonable answer than conciousness that the investment will not recoup its cost. My problem with oil company scarcity conspiracies is that the game cannot be played indefinitely. Eventually, you push the price to where altnatives are vastly better choices (which I think they are anyways because of the other issues of oil use, but that's me).

              It also occurs to me that one of the key factors was the American oil peak. Prior to that peak in 1971, America essentially controlled the price of oil because if anyone raised the price, we could just "open the tap" and lower it. That gave a kind of certainty to American oil companies that hasn't existed since.

              At this point, however, the price is high, the profits are high, and they are likely to remain so. So construction of additional capacity seems reasonable assuming there is crude production capacity that is going unused.

              Thus, in my merely semi-informed opinion, the only reason that makes sense for not constructing additional capacity at this time is that the excess crude supply is known to be temporary, and that thus new refinaries will rapidly become unused.

              I would love facts and demonstrations to the contrary.

              I've been involved in a number of my uninformed discussions with advocates of the deep abiotic oil theory. It seems to me the main "benefit" of that theory is that there may be large light sweet crude deposits in places we have never looked for them; not necessarily at great depth, but in non-sedimentary rocks. If that is so (and there have been some modest [compared to the Ghawar/Spindletop sort] finds), and if the oil companies know that there are large fields in "bedrock," then, yes, I see collusion. But I haven't seen documentation of large or very large finds to date (which, I know, doesn't prove anything).

              BTW, for those who have properly chided me for ignorantly commenting on Gold's theories, I've got my copy of "The Deep, Hot Biosphere" and I'm reading it!

              I've wandered far here. The main thing I wanted to say was "thanks" for telling me the facts about refinery construction. Makes my original comment kinda funny...

      •  It is not about limiting profit (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lord Kanti, lrhoke, pissedpatriot

        it is about market manipulation. The world is producing more oil then ever at the same time the price of oil is at record highs that flies in the face of straight free market supply demand economics. The market is being manipulated by inflated speculative investment financed by BIG oil. Then BIG oil shuts down production driving the price up further and causing "panic" buying.

        Most people might complain about $4 gas this summer but they'll line up around the block and be happy to pay it once you limit supply, which is what were starting to see.

        5% profit on a $1 widget is a nickel. 5% profit on the same widget that suddenly costs $4 is 20 cents what company wouldn't do that if they could? The only allegiance they hold is to profit.

        I have no problem with free market supply demand economics but when you manipulate that market I call that gouging.

        Quotes from others express a mental laziness in themselves.

        by rudgrl on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:40:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  RECORD PROFITS....... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lord Kanti

        I don't have a problem with profit, I DO have a problem with RECORD PROFITS during a time when buying gas LIMITS THE FOOD I AM ABLE TO BUY!!!!

        And another thing, I'm fucking sick and tired of being referred to a JUNKIE.

        OUR SOCIETY HAS BEEN DEPENDANT ON CAR TRAVEL FOR MUCH LONGER THAN MY 44 YEARS!

        And I'm SICK of the people who live in the east coast megalopolises who don't SEEM TO GET that we don't have access to the quality mass transportation that you do.

        I don't want to fucking hear ANYMORE about BIKES either.  I can't cart my two teenagers around on a bike and I can't carry GROCERIES HOME ON A FUCKING BIKE.

        I do not joy ride IN FACT I can't AFFORD to drive 90 miles to my hometown of TULSA to see my sisters, one whom is fighting cancer.

        So cut out the fucking JUNKIE rbetoric already.

        Its a matter of simple LOGIC.  If Exxon HAD to increase their prices because the oil was costing more, then their profits would have stayed roughly the same.  The fact that they had RECORD PROFITS would seem to imply that they charged much more than they had to to maintain their status quo.

      •  I mostly agree with you, but (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        melo, pissedpatriot
        When you say this:

        "Is it the oil company's fault that we use oil to such a high degree?? "

        The answer is actually yes, when you consider that the oil and automotive industries have lobbied Congress and the states for decades to encourage consumption of oil. Look into the history of why old streetcar lines and other forms of urban transit were dismantled in many cities at the same time car ownership expanded. Often, energy interests were directly responsible for these decisions.

        My political compass: -7.38, -8.00

        by seaprog on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:35:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  No they are not (0+ / 0-)

      Seriously, the profit margin of these oil companies

      Did you look at the diary before you wrote this?  Profit margins of many industries are higher (some are double) what the energy companies make.

      The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.

      by deathsinger on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:32:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Transportation Policy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BmoreMD

    is more important than an energy policy. We are not going to come up with any fuel alternative that comes close to what fossil fuels do for us. We must destroy our demand (demand destruction) for energy. If we do it under our own terms will have a softer landing and we will be better off. If we let it happen we will be in for a very rough ride, so to speak.

    How come is it that even though our industries have moved to China, thus making China's need for oil explode, our own energy consumption has been increasing? It has to do with driving everywhere.

    I just bought a 50cc scooter for running errands and shopping. We have three kids so we can't give up the car. I got the scooter because where I live roads go up and down gorges which would kill me if I try to ride a bike.

    We also need a good public transportation system.

    You are right about the price gauging. It may happen at the level of a  gas station. I think one reason the big oil companies are making record profits is because they are not exploring for oil. The trend now is to buy companies that have proven reserves.

    •  destroying demand (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SecondComing, skeptigal

      yes.  how do you destroy demand?  by raising the price.  Preferably with taxes.  Relying on profiteering or price-gouging by corporations will have far less desireable consequences, but still better than allowing demand to spiral upward.

      •  so (0+ / 0-)

        so we should just create a huge recession?

        •  Think bigger picture. (0+ / 0-)

          A recession isn't the worst thing that could happen.

          •  well isn't that just hunkydory for YOU to say! (0+ / 0-)

            i guess YOU don't have to feed a family with a below living wage, i guess YOU don't have to drive to a low -paying job in an old clunker because YOU can afford to drive one of those neat, nifty environmentally approved cars, i guess YOU aren't old and on a fixed income, i guess YOU have adequate or better health coverage, i guess YOU could survive the huge economic toll it takes on the poor and lower middle class...

            but wait, those poor and lower middle class (and soon to be middle class) really don't DESERVE this planet, now DO they, because, in their poverty, they are using MORE than their fair share of the resources in this land... so it is ok that a recession kills'em off, right?

            yep, darwinism at it's best.

            survival of the fittest!

            •  I don't think you get it. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              theran

              I am not saying a recession is a 'not so bad' outcome. I don't have 100% job security, nor do I know anyone who does. However, indefinitely maintaining the status quo is not an option, is it? How much more effort and how many more years should we spend trying to maintain supplies of cheap gasoline? I mean really, even if we wrung every dollar of windfall profits out of Exxon and passed a law making them refine as much gasoline as humanly possible, do you not think we would be right back to the current situation in 5 or 10 years? Then what?

              We must transition our society to less volatile and more sustainable energy supplies, even if it means some economic retrenchment, and no time is better than the present. Right now, our entire economy is one band of Saudi nutjobs away from being sent over a cliff and we are totally unprepared for it. Don't you think a genuine energy crisis would hurt the poor and working class more than a temporary downturn in the economy?

              •  don't GET it???? (0+ / 0-)

                as i get in my car to drive two plus hours to the NEAREST dental school to have three teeth pulled because i HAVE NO INSURANCE - can't AFFORD insurance - AND because there are NO dental clinics any closer - i will pay over $30 in gas and another $15 in parking AND will be billed through the teeth for the services - which will take at least three visits - try $90 in gas - and you tell me i don't GET it????

                if gas were REALLY in short demand, if oil companies were NOT recording BILLIONS in profits for the last two quarters - if the world REALLY had a REAL crisis - maybe i would, as you say, get it.

                this price hike is not about shortage, it is not about conserving - it is about greed, pure and simple greed, while the rest of us are getting slaughtered like lambs!

                it is you my friend, who isn't "getting" it - but wait, yes, you ARE - for YOU are also lining the silk purses of the takers, just like the rest of us.  the only difference is that you don't see that you are being "taken".

                •  No, apparently you don't. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  theran

                  Edrie, here is a simple fact for you: the likelihood of us paying less than $2/gallon for gasoline in the foreseeable future is vanishingly small. If you want a variety of well-informed explanations for why this is true The Oil Drum is a good place to start. One of their recent postings made this rather salient point: The process of taking oil from the ground and getting it into your car in the form of gasoline is an elaborate network of disparate suppliers, refiners, distributors and retailers. At every step of the way are people looking to buy low and sell high. With that much pressure on prices, how much room is there for profiteering?

                  I've put forth a number of hypothetical questions, which you have chosen to ignore, so please answer this one: If we could wring all of the 'excess' profit out of the gasoline business, how much do you think that would knock off the price per gallon? If I were a betting man, I wouldn't say more than 40 cents. What's your guess? Here's another one: If scarcity weren't the issue at hand then wouldn't there be a producer out there leaping into the market to make a profit on volume sales? There doesn't appear to be, so why is that?

                  What I'm trying to impress on you is that mean, greedy people have very little to do with both the current situation and the future. As someone else on this thread put it, there is no way to magically put more dead dinosaur juice in the ground. Funny you should mention Darwin, because everyone has to adapt to the reality that gasoline will never be cheap again. There is no painless solution. We could have had one if we started working on this 30 years ago, but we blew it. We’re actually quite lucky because we can both see the problem and have alternatives within our grasp. We just need the will to act. If you think a $3 gallon of gasoline is akin to getting slaughtered like lambs (Do you have any idea how hysterical that sounds? Get some perspective!), you are in for some really rude surprises in the future if you are not prepared to change. If expensive oil makes you crazy, then put your imagination to work on no oil and no alternative.

                  •  i have a real problem with pompous self-righteous (0+ / 0-)

                    environmentalists who don't seem to realize that economic issues are EQUALLY as important as the environment.

                    IF you think that punishing the populace for using oil is the solution, then I suggest YOU have some rude awakenings coming - like a massive recession, then a massive depression and the major loss of jobs, businesses and the way of life that had once been america's dream.

                    i have never stated that we should ignore the issue of diminishing oil supplies.  i DO say that until we find a solution, allowing the greed of the few destroy all hopes of the middle class to survive (AND maybe apply creative processes to finding alternatives) is sheer folly.

                    people are not challenged to find creative solutions to major problems when faced with the struggle to survive.  that struggle for the basics:  food, shelter, employment, etc., overshadows the creative mind process in finding innovative solutions to critical problems.

                    i find it sadly amusing that so many "so-called environmentalists" feel that the ONLY way to a solution is to beat the hell out of the populace:  THEN they wonder why there is so little support for the "green" position.  well, out here, it isn't "green" - it is "black and blue" - and NO one likes an abuser.

                    the tone and demeanor of the "pay up you slime bucket scourge of the planet" folks are no more in touch with the reality of the lives of average people than the neocons who gouge and greedily suck up what little available resources (economically) there are and THEN drop the price.

                    if you drop your own rhetoric and listen very carefully to what is now crossing the political and information highway, you will find that there is no shortage currently - the prices are driven by [TA DA!!] SPECULATION!!!  

                    this forced manipulation of prices does absolutely nothing to bring about an immediate change in usage - it only lines the pockets of the richest elite corporatists on the planet.

                    IF there were truly a shortage, you can bet your last f*cking dollar that those same corporatists would have the money poured into finding alternatives that they could "sell" us at the highest profitable price possible.

                    i'm tired.  i'm tired of arguing this with elitist ignorant "do-gooders" - and i'm beginning to understand why the far right gets away with throwing the term "ecowhacko" around.  it is because SOME people think that OTHER people and their lives are expendable for the "greater" good of the planet.  well, guess what!  when there are no people to LIVE on that planet, whose "good" was it for?

                    and i'm not talking about fossil fuels - i'm talking about systematic economic genocide.

                    if you are poor, you are dead.  is that the world you advocate?

                    •  Your passion is very clear, (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      theran

                      but your facts are not. Can you provide some links or other evidence of price gouging and manipulation?

                      Thanks, would love to see where you get your data from, and I'm sure the SEC and energy traders would as well, as they're tasked with getting the lowest possible price for their clients and are fired and sued if they don't.

                      Post the links in this thread so we can all see them.

                      I am the federal government.

                      by mateosf on Thu Apr 27, 2006 at 01:12:22 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

  •  Increasing demand doesn't mean no gouging (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melo, hopscotch1997

    You are making the assumption that just because there is increasing demand there is no price gouging. Perhaps the increasing demand is being used as camouflage for price gouging. I don't know and neither do you.

    Gas prices are up now pretty much because of speculation in oil futures.

    Oil stocks in the US are at a 5 yr high.

    There is spare refinery capacity.

    We can make more, and achieve US fossil fuel independence using coal liquefication. Not necessarily environmentally sound, but it is possible.

    It is pretty much impossible to prove that there is no price manipulation. Are the Gulf-area refineries coming back online as quickly as they could, or are the oil companies that own them taking their own sweet time? Is this similar to what happened in CA in 2001 with generating plants being kept offline to create shortages?

    You sound as if you have decided what you want the answer to be before you have the facts, perhaps even that you want high prices to force people to be more energy efficient. We need to get a fair investigation of the facts first before we decide whether there is gouging. For the longterm ever-increasing demand is a different issue and we need a comprehensive energy policy that addresses our energy needs as well as looming environmental catastrophe.

    Pipe dreams are not an exit strategy.

    by TrainWreck on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:14:32 AM PDT

  •  Not enough oil (5+ / 0-)

    No one wants to recognize the tragedy: too little oil. The high oil price, which will only go higher, will transform the world. The U.S. will feak out completely because there is no leadership on the issue. Tears won't help.

  •  Great post! (5+ / 0-)

    And I've never written that before (though I've read many great posts here dkos.)

    We need to accept high prices as a fact now--whether there's gouging going on or not-- 'cause our beloved free market system allows price gouging and high price at the pumps for all the reasons you've stated.  In fact, I encourage gouging as a way to get Americans to conserve - which they are more likely to do if they think they are sticking it someone (Big Oil) than because it's smart energy poilcy.  And if prices don't come down anytime soon, then the things Americans do to get even might become "lifestyles."

    So the Price Gouging frenzy isn't all bad provided the solution is "but we can't do anything about it except buy less gas/oil/plastics and what ever other stuff involves ancient decomposed organic life."

    "listen...do you smell something" -ghostbusters

    by David in Burbank on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:30:07 AM PDT

  •  and why again isn't this a hoax? (5+ / 0-)

    IMHO, and i know i am a paranoid, cynical, tin-foil hat wearing momma, but, why again is this real?  this run-up in prices wasn't just a hoax to relax enviro. laws for big oil?  why is this any different from all the other lies?

    •  I think that's part of the plan. (0+ / 0-)

      Bush just directed the EPA to suspend those pesky laws that required oil companies to make that pricier cleaner burning fuel.

      "I wish that for just one time You could stand inside my shoes You'd know what a drag it is To see you" - Dylan

      by Floja Roja on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:50:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The problem is the policy (6+ / 0-)

    of giving billions of dollars (that's billions with a "b") of dollars in federal tax breaks and outright cash subsidies to oil, coal and nuclear power companies who are already the most profitable in the history of the galaxy.

    Exactly the same deal as the medicare "drug benefit."

    Take an issue that scares people and then use it to benefit the rich and powerful.

    It's not an "energy policy" --it's an income redistribution progrom.

  •  All of the above (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DelRPCV, StuartZ

    Good points, but I'll refer back to last week and the "good girl" debate. Just because we should have known better doesn't mean the oil companies have a right to abuse us.

    The oil companies have had their hands held by the Governement for at least the past 25 years.  All of those risky explorations were backed up by tax breaks and incentives.  President Bush is easing regulations to make it easier to produce oil AT RECORD HIGH PROFITS. President Bush started a war to help his energy industry friends.

    I don't neccessarily wnat to pay less for oil, but I want to GET SOMETHING out of what I'm paying for.  My taxes went to help Exxon find the oil, so now that it's paid off and they are in the black, I want MY TAXES to go to something useful, like education or alternative fuels.  We need to reclaim our investment in the oil companies and redistribute it to the rest of the Nation.

    Be a decider, not a disassembler.

    by mungley on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:45:59 AM PDT

  •  It CAN be both you know (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    seaprog

    In fact, in the casse of a diminishing resource it almost always WILL be the case, that someone will gouge the price of something that's disappearing.  Of course, that's actual economic behavior, not some pie-in-the-sky "model" so I don't expect contemporary Americans to understand that.

    Yes, we need to radically overhaul our entire energy consumption models.

    And yes, the oil companies are exploiting you, and they arde gouging the price, they aren't the selfless saints helpless before the godlike market forces  mateosf would have you think.

  •  Kossacks Don't Get It - And Probably Won't (15+ / 1-)

    Nice diary Mateosf,

    I just love how otherwise intelligent people here on DK go totally retarded the second anyone starts talking about energy policy and fall back on the same tired theories that have been debunked over and over again.

    Each and every time people here are reminded that the oil is going to run out and the reply is NONSENSE! its refining capacity!, it's price gouging!, it's the Republicans! and on and on it goes.

    Ok, so say that we do build a ton of refineries within the next five years and they get online brewing high quality unleaded for your SUV.  Do you really think the prices are going to drop because of that?  And even if they do, for how long?

    We could have the greatest refining capability on the planet, but if the Saudis and Hugo Chavez stop sending us tankers of black gold, what good are they?   If we go to war with Iran and they destroy the middle eastern infrastructure, what good is our refining capacity - its worth jack shit!  What are you going to refine - air?

    If we aren't already on a global peak, we are heading for it in the next few years which means that no matter who you vote for, no matter how many bedtime prayers you say, no matter what - supplies are going to become tighter and your gas is going to get more expensive. Period. Get used to it.  God cannot put more dead dinosaur juice in the ground for you to burn.

    You want to put a gas tax on oil - fine, accelerate the inevitable!  I look forward to your design that lets my Honda run on tap water.

    You want to run your car on ethanol - fine, so long as you understand that it's damaging to the environment and STILL REQUIRES OIL TO MAKE IT!  What  do you think fertilizer and pesticides are made of - dreams and starlight?  Lets drain the Ogallala Aquifer and create a few nitrogen rich dead zones in our river deltas while we're at it.

    At this point we might as well just go back to running our economy on whale oil.  I say lets all move to Nantucket and start hunting sperm whales tomorrow.  I'm sure someone can figure out how to make a SUV that will run on it and haul your fat spoiled American asses all over town so you can continue your pathetic consumerism till the day you die.

    (if by "criminalization of politics" you mean politics being taken over by criminals, you are absolutely correct)

    by Drezden on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:47:18 AM PDT

    •  Brilliant! But- (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lollipops, hypersphere01

      remember, tap water for your Honda is a precious commodity too, and every bit as much limited in its accessability in the long run.

    •  huh (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lrhoke, TheBlaz

      Ok, so say that we do build a ton of refineries within the next five years and they get online brewing high quality unleaded for your SUV.  Do you really think the prices are going to drop because of that?  And even if they do, for how long

      Talk about nonsense.
      Do you understand why the price of oil is 75 bucks? It is because speculators are worried about refineries being knocked off line, and because of possible war with Iran.  They are concerned because refineries are scarce, and if one or two are knocked off there simply isn't the capacity to make up the difference. Hence a huge world oil/gas crisis.

      I love how americans fall back with the faulty logic that refineries take years to build so they aren't the answer. HUH? with that logic refineries will never be built, assurring that by never building new ones, they would assurably have been the answer.

       The reason for this "crisis" is 1) George Bushes mouth and 2) lack of backup refinery installations.

      Big Oil takes over the White House and several years later big oil has the largest profits in the history of the world, and some people think it's just coincidence, and even go so far as to blame the victims ( us) for having to be flim flammed.

      •  Blame (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        seaprog

        I love how americans fall back with the faulty logic that refineries take years to build so they aren't the answer. HUH? with that logic refineries will never be built, assurring that by never building new ones, they would assurably have been the answer.

        Notice I said build a TON in the next five years, not that it would take five years to build a refinery.

        The U.S. could probably use some extra refining capacity but it also doesn't help that each and every year Americans demand more and more and more for their cars, trucks, motorcyles, boats, jet skis, snow mobiles, and so on.  There are two sides to this story.

        If you built a super refinery tomorrow it might temporarily lower prices but that increased capacity would quickly be absorbed and outstripped by demand.

        (if by "criminalization of politics" you mean politics being taken over by criminals, you are absolutely correct)

        by Drezden on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:18:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  missing (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          seaprog, tikkun, TheBlaz

          missing the bigger picture, this isn't about cars, boats. It is about trucks, airplanes, cost of goods, cost of transportation, it is about our economy.

          Why is it people think this is about some rich bitch driving her kid to soccer practice in a SUV.  This is about real inflation, this is about anasty recession, this is about your job. This is about the cost of putting food on your table. This is about being able to heat your home in the winter.

          Wake up people, this is about EVERYTHING.

          •  I think I get that (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            hypersphere01, Xerxes

            Thats the only problem with being the top country in the world, after that the only direction you can go is down.

            Essentially unless we can come up with a new portable energy delevery system like cold fusion or antimatter, the US is in for a downturn.

            It's like one of the lines from the Matrix says:

            "Do you here that Mr. Anderson, thats the sound of inevitablility"

            (if by "criminalization of politics" you mean politics being taken over by criminals, you are absolutely correct)

            by Drezden on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:43:49 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  fear of change (0+ / 0-)

              the end of oil will be a good thing, the problem is it wont happen soon enough.

              There isnt a problem of too little hydrocarbons to burn, theres too much which means global warming.

              embrace the future, the future is clean and the future is solar and it will be a better more fulfilling life once we make the switch to renewables.

              My message to hopelessly apolitical people: fuck politics, save energy

              by Will the Organizer on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 05:17:18 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  You may well be right... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      anonymousredvest18

      But -

      During the California energy crisis - while Gray Davis was getting shown the door, and most portfolios still had Enron stock - I remember buying the "supply/demand" myth, then too.

      Of course - it was a simple matter of X amount of energy costing Y, with Y getting bigger as X got bigger until you hit that plateau (or cliff).

      But hey - lo and behold - we find out a couple years later than in fact we did have market manipulation and price gouging at work.

      Sorry... but my trust in "market forces" isn't going to come back quite that quickly or easily.

      I guess everyone's got their own blog now.

      by zonk on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 12:23:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  lack of imagination (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mediaprisoner

      You want to run your car on ethanol - fine, so long as you understand that it's damaging to the environment and STILL REQUIRES OIL TO MAKE IT!  What  do you think fertilizer and pesticides are made of - dreams and starlight?  Lets drain the Ogallala Aquifer and create a few nitrogen rich dead zones in our river deltas while we're at it.

      wrong. Just because thats the way ethanol is produced today doesnt mean thats the only way it can be made.

      Organic farming could produce biomass to make ethanol with better crops than corn like maybe hemp or bamboo, and it could employ a lot of people and be a clean industry.

      Pesticides and fertilizers and toxic runoff dont have to be a part of farming.

      My message to hopelessly apolitical people: fuck politics, save energy

      by Will the Organizer on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 05:10:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  price gouging (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    libnewsie

    Price gouging does occur, but not at the gas stations. It occurs when oil company shills like Bush and Cheney invade oil producing nations and cause chaos which shuts down their oil production and causes oil prices to go up. The media isn't going to tell people how much money in increased oil costs Bush has cost us. We have to somehow get this info out there if we're going to make any progress this November.

    Go [hunt] yourself, Mr. Cheney

    by Iconoclast421 on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:55:14 AM PDT

  •  Of course this is price gouging (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melo, lrhoke

    You seem to have lost touch with reality.  THat was one of the MAJOR POINTS OF THE IRAQI WAR.  To remove their oil production from the market to increase prices.  Prices increase whenever the oil companies want them to regardless of what is happening or not happening in the environment or economy.  There is actually plenty of oil, although it might be more difficult to extract or more costly.  What is really happening here is price manipulation by greedy oil companies.  What does the Bush family do for a living (besides fuck up America)?  Oh yeah...oil.  How about Condi Rice?  Big oil exec.  Much of the admin has a heavy background in oil or related industries and they have been making fortunes for themselves and their friends.    

    Remember Dick 'Vader' Cheney's super secret energy meetings back at the beginning of the Bush regime?  What do you think they were discussing in those super secret meetings?  They were discussing how to rape us over ten times by manipulating the energy policy and prices.  These degenerates think long term.

    STOP INTERNALIZING THE ABUSE.  YES, THE OIL COMPANIES ARE RAPING US AND YES THEY HAVE MANIPULATED THE PRICES, and each and every one of them deserves to burn in whatever hell Pat Robertson can concoct in his spare time.  

    That said, of course we have to come up with alternative energy sources.  But realistically THAT IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN until we get rid of Bush and his America-raping oil scum buddies.  

    •  oil rape (0+ / 0-)

      that is what it looks like, but the diarist is correct.  Supply and Demand.  The price of crude oil has been kept low by political means.  Demand has outgrown supply.  WHEN WE GET RID OF BUSH, THE OIL WILL STILL BE GONE.

      -Hype

      •  Stop blaming the victim (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shpilk, hopscotch1997, libnewsie, TheBlaz

        The American consumer is the victim.  I am sick of seeing elitists, many of whom are on this board, insulting, belittling and speaking down to ordinary Americans WHO NEED TO USE OIL FOR TRANSPORTATION AND HEAT because that is the why society has been structured for decades now.  The people will always do what they can to protect their own pocketbooks but what is lacking here is LEADERSHIP.  There is NO LEADERSHIP on any front.  What we have here is a criminal leading his band of thugs on a merry raping of America's resources, financial and otherwise.  It's piracy on a grand scale.  

        These prices are being artificially fixed by the oil companies to make as much money as they can while Bush is in office.  That is the simple reality.  It does NOT MATTER AT ALL how much oil is actually left.  If there were an entire planet brimming with oil ant it was oozing out of our coffee cups, the price of oil would STILL BE GOING THROUGH THE ROOF BECAUSE IT"S BEEN RIGGED BY BUSHCO.  Stop believing this bullshit that we can affect the price of anything or that this is supply and demand - that is a pantload of crap.  This is simply rape and extortion, and that's all it is.

      •  bullshit. demand has NOT exceeded (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dwahzon

        supply.  when this price spike began, everyone screamed OPEC!!! OPEC!!!

        in reality, the price increase comes out of the futures for WTI standard - which stands ofr West Texas Intermediate (out of midlands, texas - DUH!!!)

        this entire fiasco started because the midlands oilmen fear that their fields are past peak - and began running up the prices about a year and a half ago.

        opec tried desperately to calm the price increases to no avail.  the saudis increased field production to the point that many in the middle east fear they have damaged up to 80% of the reserves in their fields.

        why?  because opec set band width pricing for ppbl - and they had a high/low that controlled the price structure and then they controlled the outflow from the opec countries.  this stabilized the sale of oil and controlled the output - which meant regulating oil and keeping runaway nations in check by raising prices and cutting supply to check how much was being used/sold worldwide.

        if you read PNAC (project for a new american century), one of the goals was to break the back of opec - and why?  because when oil was at 35-38 per barrel, the remainder in the texas fields (which was now past peak) would be essentially a giveaway.  the companies could not maximize the profits out of the remaining oil (which would NOT be a full 50%) remaining.  what to do? what to do!

        simple.  push the price up and up so that what ever is left can be sold for a premium.

        when the wti started to jump upward, opec held firm until it reached $55/bbl - at that point, some opec members jumped ship and sold for outside the price band.  opec raised the band, oil continued upwards and more jumped ship.

        the results for texas and the multis has been accomplished.  opec has been marginalized and texas and the owners of brent north sea (which followed closely the rise of wti) are making record profits - at the world's expense.

        opec, for all it's doings, was managing - let me repeat that word - MANAGING the amount of oil available to the world market and in doing so, was protecting the reserves from wild gross overuse.

        not any more.

        thank you, george bush.

        thank you, dick cheney.

        and thank YOU, all of you who buy into the bush agenda of raping the world for profit!

        </outrage>

  •  To hell with getting the price of oil reduced. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mediaprisoner, Lollipops

    Think your parents would give me a sweet deal on the house in Cleveland Park?  Is it walking distance to the Zoo?

    The last time people listened to a talking bush, they wandered 40 years in the desert.

    by DC Pol Sci on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:01:14 AM PDT

  •  Biodiesel baby (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tikkun, american pastoral

    Went out & bought it. Driving it.

    It may not be perfect, BUT, we can grow and make it here. Economy of scale? As I use it, I create more demand.

    Etc.

    Right on 100 times for this diarist. You rock --keep 'em coming!

    •  Biodiesel can't scale (6+ / 0-)

      For a rough calculation, assume that we can take one gallon of vegetable oil, mix with some alcohol and lye, and get one gallon of biodiesel.

      Suppose we take all the vegetable oil produced in this country, and turn it into biodiesel. Then we'd have about 1.3% of the petroleum that we use. If we want to restrict ourselves to waste vegetable oil--like when biodiesel pioneers get free grease from the local McDonalds--then we could only make about 0.13%.

      There isn't enough cropland in the country to ramp up vegetable oil production to a point where biodiesel could replace a significant fraction of petroleum use. The only "crop" that can get enough yield (gallons per acre) is some type of algae, which of course has never been tried on a large scale before.

      Biodiesel has a place, and it will certainly be a lucrative business, but it is still a drop in the bucket. The goal shouldn't be to open the spigot, but to get a smaller bucket.

    •  Ummm... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      seaprog, Floja Roja

      from Znet

      In promoting biodiesel - as the European Union, the British and US governments and thousands of environmental campaigners do - you might imagine that you are creating a market for old chip fat, or rapeseed oil, or oil from algae grown in desert ponds. In reality you are creating a market for the most destructive crop on earth.

      In September, Friends of the Earth published a report about the impacts of palm oil production. "Between 1985 and 2000," it found, "the development of oil-palm plantations was responsible for an estimated 87 per cent of deforestation in Malaysia"(8). In Sumatra and Borneo, some 4 million hectares of forest has been converted to palm farms. Now a further 6 million hectares is scheduled for clearance in Malaysia, and 16.5m in Indonesia.

      From
      Cornell and Berkeley study

      In terms of energy output compared with energy input for ethanol production, their calculations determined that:

      Corn requires 29% more fossil energy than the fuel produced;

      Switch grass requires 45% more fossil energy than the fuel produced;

      Wood biomass requires 57% more fossil energy than the fuel produced.

      In terms of energy output compared with the energy input for biodiesel production, the study found that:

      Soybean plants requires 27% more fossil energy than the fuel produced;

      Sunflower plants requires 118% more fossil energy than the fuel produced.

      •  Biofuel is a net energy LOSER! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        seaprog, xjac

        Thank you for pointing this out once again.

        Biofuel will save no one.

        (if by "criminalization of politics" you mean politics being taken over by criminals, you are absolutely correct)

        by Drezden on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:46:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Absolutely incorrect (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          theran, hopscotch1997, esquimaux

          At one point in time, the 1970's, corn derived ethanol most likely WAS a net energy loser.  THIS IS NO LONGER TRUE.

          Improvements in ethanol production over the years have increased the efficiency dramtically, to the point were corn-derived ethanol absolutely has a positive net energy balance, even if its co-products are discounted.  Is it is a great net energy balance?  No, corn is not the ideal feedstock for ethanol.  Sugar cane is far better, as would be cellulosic ethanol, if we can get it up and running on a large scale.  

          Two men drive the myth that ethanol is still a net energy loser, David Pimentel of Cornell, and his new "best friend forever", Tad Patzek.  Pimentel makes a mockery of the scientific method.  I implore you to read the 27 January, 2006 issue of Science Magazine that details a meta-study of ethanol studies.

          This link is to the supplementary material for this meta-study.  Do you want to see what kind of a scientist Pimentel is?  Allow me to quote from page 20 of this supplementary document, describing why Pimentel rejected the claims of a company named Arkenol:

          In the notes for Table 5, recent claims by an ethanol technology vendor (Arkenol) that 2 kg of wood cellulose are needed to produce one liter of ethanol is rejected in part because “Others are reporting 13.2 kg of wood per liter of ethanol (DOE, 2004).” This citation is a website (www.eere.energy.gov/biomass/dilute_acid.html) that includes in its first paragraph the following text:

          “...As indicated earlier, the first attempt at commercializing a process for ethanol from wood was done in Germany in 1898. It involved the use of dilute acid to hydrolyze the cellulose to glucose, and was able to produce 7.6 liters of ethanol per 100 kg of wood waste (18 gal per ton). The Germans soon developed an industrial process optimized for yields of around 50 gallons per ton of biomass...”

          The value of 13.2 kg/L reported by (3) is based on this 107-year old data; 100 divided by 7.6 yields the 13.2. While this value is not used in subsequent calculations, it is used as the sole justification for an otherwise arbitrary choice of an important parameter (see the section on sensitivity analyses above)

          Get it?  Pimentel rejects Arkenol's numbers because "others" are reporting far more inefficient results, and he cites a 2004 Department of Energy webpage as having those numbers.  The DOE webpage he cites does have those numbers... the results of the Germans in 1898.  That's the kind of scientist he is.  Patently dishonest.  His other numbers are also suspect.  

          Find a study NOT by Pimentel that says ethanol is a net energy loser.  While you're looking, delve into the Science magazine article.

  •  More info (15+ / 0-)

    For those of you say that we are not "running out" of oil, you are essentially correct.  The wells will probably never run dry.

    However, if you know anything about how an oil well works, you know that it is dependant on how much pressure is available in the ground.  It's like if you were to shake up a 2 liter bottle of coke and open it on your kitchen table.  At first it comes gushing out and there is a big mess but eventually it loses power, the foam subsides, and you are left with about half of the bottle still full of coke.  The same thing works on wells.

    The problem however is that once we get down to that half filled bottle, it isn't a matter of inserting a straw and vacuuming the rest out of the ground.  The oil doesn't sit in huge liquid pools, its trapped in porous rock and sediment that doesn't like to move around that much.

    To get the oil out of the ground you either have to drill move wells in different parts of the field or apply artificial pressure to the well to make up for whats been removed.  In most parts of the world, like Saudi Arabia, this is done by forcing sea water into the ground in the hopes of pushing oil to the top.  But eventually even this fails and all that comes out the top is dirty water.

    For the large majority of the fields around the world, the gusher phase is over and we are now trying to get as much as we can from that bottle.  With every day that this goes on, it becomes more and more expensive to extract.  At a certain point it just becomes impossibly expensive and the well is closed - even if there are five million barrels left in the hole.

    Across America there are a good number of wells like this that have been abandoned because the oil is just too expensive to extract.  You might be thinking technology will come to the rescue, and it might, but in order for it to be cost effective that new technology must be

    A) Super cheap and abundant or
    B) Oil needs to cost $300 a barrel

    More than likely it is going to be option B that allows the oil to coem rising from the ground and at that point most Americans aren't going to be able to afford it.  It will probably be used to drive what remains of our military industrial complex or to let the global dictator drive around in style.

    This is the situation on the ground all over the world.  The cheap light sweet crude gusher has been syphoned off and whats left is deep, dirty, and in some really unfriendly neighborhoods.  Keep complaining about prices all you want but this is where we're heading.

    (if by "criminalization of politics" you mean politics being taken over by criminals, you are absolutely correct)

    by Drezden on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:05:16 AM PDT

    •  excellent addendum on the geology (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      seaprog, xjac, Drezden

      Thanks, this is correct- the issue isn't that the earth is running out of oil, it's that we're running out of oil that can be had for less than $100 a barrel. It would appear that we've already found or used most of the oil that can be had for under $60-70, and that number will continue to climb.

      Great explanation.

      I am the federal government.

      by mateosf on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:36:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent (0+ / 0-)

    Thanks for the analogies - takes me back to the "guns and butter" days of college economics ... or, rather, the "beer and pizza" days, since my econ prof was a bit more hip to what college kids like me would relate to.

    BTW ... shout out to your folks from a fellow Cleveland Parker.

    Blog this! Visit me at K Street Blues. It will change your life. (Actual life-changing not a guarantee.)

    by AggieDemocrat on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:15:23 AM PDT

  •  Gas vs. Oil (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    seaprog, anonymousredvest18

    Well done diary.  It is, however, worth making a distinction between "windfall profits" on crude oil which is, I believe, the focus of this diary and "price gouging" on gasoline at the pump.  Oil prices are set by the world market and the diary is correct, we simply don't produce enough domestically to have an effect on that.  

    Gas prices are different.  They are set locally and are regulated, or not, by the local government.  If stations collude, explicitly or implicitly, on prices or refiners simply delay the switchover from winter fuels (like heating oil) to summer gasoline we can end up with price spikes like we are experiencing now.  Companies can take advantage of perceptions that oil prices will continue to climb (anticipated future costs determine the current price) to price gasoline higher while doing small things to artificially restrict supply over the short term.  It's essentially what Enron did to California in the summer of 2001.  If they are doing this it is gouging.

    The problem is there is no federal gouging law.  Democrats have been calling for one for some time and the Administration has resisted it.  That's what makes Bush's call today to have DOJ and the FTC investigate gouging so hypocritical.

  •  History and Policy (5+ / 0-)

    Several posters here seem to assume that oil producers want oil prices to continue spiraling upward. They don't, and historically they've gone to great lengths to prevent oil prices from getting too high. In years past, the Saudis have regularly increased production to contain prices, even though this flies in the face of their short-term economic interest. (That they're not doing it now is strong evidence that we're at a logistical peak, and that refineries have all the oil they can handle.)

    The reason is simple: Oil producers may be greedy, but they're not stupid. If oil prices get too high, then people will (1) find cheaper substitutes, and/or (2) conserve. Oil producers don't want that, so, for decades, the oil companies and oil-producing nations have walked a fine line, usually keeping prices high enough to be profitable while keeping them low enough to prevent or at least significantly slow movements towards conservation or the development of alternative energy sources.

    The major deviations from this fine line have resulted from outside influences, such as the Iran/Iraq war (upward price spike) or the Asian financial crisis of the late '90s (downward price spike). The vulnerability of oil prices to outside influences is one reason I'm merely gloomy - instead of near-suicidal - on the subject of peak oil. When oil prices hit $100/barrel for a few months, it will trigger a global recession, which will reduce demand, which will help contain prices.

    Even so, I doubt we'll ever have $25/barrel oil again, because - while there's still lots of oil in the ground - the cheap oil is mostly gone. Venezuela's heavy sour crude and Canada's tar sands may be economically viable for manufacturing pharmaceuticals and high-end plastics, but they won't put $2 a gallon gas in your tank, ever.

  •  Uh, yeah but... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    anonymousredvest18

    look, I don't disagree with you at all.  We should have planned better.  There's no doubt about it.  The world's oil supply is finite.  The price is expected to go up.  All that is a given.  BUT
    Let us examine the way they Bushies work:  Any place they CAN make a buck is a point that they will exploit mercilessly.  Whether it is ethical or moral to do so is beside the point for them.  See, I think the bean counters took a look at all the parents of baby boomers and all the money those parents were going to leave to their kids and all of the nice middle class families out there with good jobs and these bean counters said, "How can we profit from all of this stored up cash?"  First came the California energy crisis.  We now know it was rigged.  Enron went under because they gambled with their finances but remember how much fun they had fleecing that California Granny?  Then there was Medicare part D.  It is a colossal failure for the patient but look how well the middle men made out.  There was an unmet need for middle men to siphon off some loose cash and voila!  Then there's the ongoing war in the middle east.  Yup, we should have weaned ourselves from the stuff.  We should have improved our public transportation infrastructure, invested in alternative energy, explored safer uses of nuclear energy, lots of possibilities.  But if we had done THAT, the Bushies wouldn't have been able to create an artificial shortage by restricting Iraqi petroleum after they'd cornered the market on it.  And if they didn't create a shortage (and subsequent instability by saber rattling on Iran), they wouldn't be able to pick our pockets for that luscious disposable income the middle class has.  Finally, we have the attack on net neutrality.  This may have repercussions for the political neutrality of the net but the first prioity is money.  Yes, we paid for the fibre channel installations with our tax dollars (and how did that go anyway?  I live in the heart of Central NJ and my DSL has barely enough signal strength to justify the installation, but I digress).  Yes, we pay ISPs for the privelege of getting connected.  But somehow, the telecomms are just not making enough money.  Now, they see an opportunity.  Make people pay for the EZ Pass lane and make the major net players pay for everything else.  Oh, we'll still be able to get DKos.  They wouldn't make any money if there was no place to go.  It's just that now, you'll have to cough up the bucks, you stoopid Blue voter.  Little Green Footballs will be zooming along on Improbability Drive.
    Their time is running out.  They didn't get their way with Social Security.  They have to get while the getting's good.  There was a right way to get out of this oil crunch.  We didn't take it.  But the prices were going up under Bush one way or another.  Like everything else, the policy was fixed and the facts were warped to fit it.  

    -3.63, -4.46 "Choose something like a star to stay your mind on- and be staid"

    by goldberry on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:32:53 AM PDT

  •  the (0+ / 0-)

    government could easily step in and solve part of this problem but they will not.   First, there are margin requirements for trading oil futures contracts.  Those are set by the exchange but the government does have regulatory power over the exchange and can ask them to raise margin requirments.  They did this with margin accounts at brokerage firms awhile back.  

    Here are the two things that I would do to ring out some of the speculation in the oil futures market.

    1. Raise the margin requirement across the board for all trades in the oil futures markets.  
    1. Set a requirement that you must be in the oil or gas business to trade in the market at a reduced margin requirement.  

    This would help to ring out some ot the hedge fund speculation and easy money that is flowing into oil contracts.

    In the absence of fear, truth becomes absolute.

    by bohdi777 on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:34:17 AM PDT

  •  Wow. It's getting vicious around here. (6+ / 0-)

    I for one am glad to see this diary.  One of the things that has caught my attention in the past few weeks is how much we tend to focus on the tactical "put a windfall tax on the oil companies" instead of the strategic "how do we get out of this dependency and also avoid the next one".  News flash - the oil producers will happily sell you as much oil as they can get their hands on for as much as you are willing to pay for it.  And when they run out they will find another necessity to sell you.

    My heart goes out to the people who cannot find a decent job closer than 40 miles, but I too live in a large city where the solution to population growth has always been to add more lanes to the interstates.  Atlantans drive - get this - 100 Million miles per day, on average.  

    Here at Dkos we honestly need to spend more time discussing the strategic issues - provided of course that you would like to win in November.

    "Congressman DeLay, Colonel Danny Bubp asked me to send you a message - that cowards cut and run" - Representative Jean Schmidt

    by EeDan on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:35:31 AM PDT

    •  As people wake up (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      seaprog, kd texan

      they are only going to freak out more.

      (if by "criminalization of politics" you mean politics being taken over by criminals, you are absolutely correct)

      by Drezden on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:49:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Telecommuting (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      oortdust

      I wish more companies would invest in the infrastructure to support remote offices --

      I admit that I drive while public transit is technically feasible... but the problem is -

      Even with the drive time, the 2 transfers (train to bus to train) together with the schedule differences (CTA vs. Metra) would make my morningh trip to work a 90-120 minutes ride.  Even in bad traffic - it's a 60-75 minute trip by car.   After a 8-10 hour day - the hour to 90 minutes I save driving is pretty precious to me.

      What's worse - it's a sad fact that I rarely can "set" my time to leave by the bus schedule. While the CTA runs every ten minutes - I've got about 3 "shots" to catch the Metra back into the city... so I either leave at 4, 5, or 6... or pay for a $30 taxi in the not uncommon event I need to stay past 6 to get something done.

      I don't think public transit is ever going to be the total answer -- that convenience, door-to-door leave when you want schedule -- just can't be accomplished.

      Either telecommuting/virtual offices for white collar/office jobs and flex schedules (4 day weeks, for example) for blue collar are the best ways to reduce traffic and oil consumption.

      I guess everyone's got their own blog now.

      by zonk on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:05:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  So why not move closer to the city? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        stitchmd, skeptigal
        I agree telecommuting can help, but the root cause of a lot of this is the same as what's apparently going on in your case: people live too far away from where they work.

        First, we need to fix how we live so that everybody is within a walk, bike, or mass transit option that takes an hour or less each way of where they work. That means creating more housing in denser, mixed-use developments.

        Then, on top of people living closer to work, telecommuting can help. But if we just focus on telecommuting, we encourage people to live further away from work, and they'll still be driving more overall.

        Believe me, I understand that high house prices force many people out of the city. I bought in a ring suburb of Seattle because the city was too expensive. But I also chose the location because it was convenient by mass transit to downtown, and I'm just close enough to work that I can bike the distance in an hour.

        My political compass: -7.38, -8.00

        by seaprog on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 02:00:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Some of us cannot abide the city (0+ / 0-)

          and have to live where we can have a few acres, fruit trees, vegetable and herb gardens - and a clothesline!  (They are forbidden in most subdivisions around here.)  I am thankful I can catch a good morning breeze most days, teach my children about the constellations and watch the meteor showers every August.  Many of their friends from town have never seen the Milky Way because of the lights!  I want to hear the coyotes at night and the wild geese and doves in the early morning.

          And, as stated elsewhere, I like being able to watch fireflies at night while having a cold beer on my porch in my night clothes.

          The truth always matters.

          by texasmom on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 02:45:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I'm just finishing up a business degree. (0+ / 0-)

        (yea!!!)

        I take marta downtown every class day.  Takes about a half hour longer, guaranteed, than best case driving, not guaranteed.  And I can read classwork or the paper on the way - not recommended on I-85.  But between gas, wear & tear, parking - man, that $1.75 fare is a bargain.  

        But seriously, if we don't keep pushing for more rapid transit it just isn't going to be there.  It's too damned easy to build more roads.

        "Congressman DeLay, Colonel Danny Bubp asked me to send you a message - that cowards cut and run" - Representative Jean Schmidt

        by EeDan on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 09:09:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The oil companies are going to soak us... (0+ / 0-)

    ...for all they can while Bushco is in.  They know time is running out so the squeeze is on now.

    They know eventually the Libs will find an alternative to their Texas Tea.

    ....the future's uncertain and the end is always near....

    by suspiciousmind on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:47:58 AM PDT

  •  Intentional reduction of refining capacity (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    seaprog, melo, dwahzon

    From Senator Ron Wyden's report  The Oil Industry, Gas Supply and Refinery Capacity: More Than Meets the Eye:

    “As observed over the last few years and as projected well into the future, the most critical factor facing the refining industry on the West Coast is the surplus refining capacity, and the surplus gasoline production capacity.  The same situation exists for the entire U.S. refining industry. Supply significantly exceeds demand year-round.  This results in very poor refinery margins, and very poor refinery financial results.  Significant events need to occur to assist in reducing supplies and/or increasing the demand for gasoline.”
    Internal Texaco document, March 7, 1996

    “A senior energy analyst at the recent API (American Petroleum Institute)convention warned that if the U.S. petroleum industry doesn’t reduce its refining capacity, it will never see any substantial increase in refining margins...However, refining utilization has been rising, sustaining high levels of operations, thereby keeping prices low.”
    Internal Chevron document, November 30, 1995

    Highlights of Wyden's report:

    FINDING 1: Oil Companies Articulated their “Need” to Reduce Oil and Gas Supply to Increase Prices and Grow Profit Margins (snip)

    FINDING 2: Oil Company Competitors Planned Opportunities to Subvert Oil and Gas Supply (snip)

    FINDING 3: Closing Refineries: Oil Companies Act to Inhibit Supply

    While oil companies were making agreements to control oil and gas supply, refineries were closing.  Since 1995, 24 refineries have closed, including refineries in California, Illinois, Arizona, Oklahoma, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Michigan and Washington (the Tosco refinery has subsequently reopened), taking nearly 830,000 barrels a day of refining capacity offline. While capacity at some existing refineries expanded during this time, the fact is that more capacity would exist if these refineries were still operating.(snip)

    FINDING 4:
    Record Profits: Oil Companies Reap Benefit of Higher Prices at Pump
    According to Texaco’s 2000 Annual Report, the company’s production steadily decreased from 1998 to 2000, yet its net income more than quadrupled during the same period – with Texaco posting well above $2.4 billion in net income in 2000. (snip)

    FINDING 5:
    National Energy Policy Incentivizes Oil Companies to Expand Refinery Capacity

    The Bush administration’s National Energy Policy, released in May, points to lagging profit margins and costly environmental regulations during the past decade as the reason for lost refinery capacity. The report also states that, “excess capacity may have deterred some new capacity investments in the past,” and that “more recently, other factors, such as regulations, have deterred investments.” 29
    Oil companies cited excess capacity in the mid-1990s as a cause of inadequate profit margins.  It was this excess capacity that the companies sought to eliminate in order to improve their margins.  Subsequently, refineries were closed.  The industry documents cited earlier indicate that oil companies may have closed those refineries specifically to tighten supply and drive up costs.
    This strategy is paying off in multiple ways.  In addition to forcing higher gas prices and realizing exploding profits, the industry now stands to benefit from a national energy policy that could reward anti-consumer actions by weakening environmental standards. (snip)

    Mother Nature bats last.

    by pigpaste on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:49:28 AM PDT

  •  What we're all forgetting... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    anonymousredvest18

    ..is that regardless of if Big Oil can stop the pricing, they're already guilty.  It's hard to escape the Enron-like implications of all this banter back and forth about being jacked over.  

    I say the Dems keep pressuring Bush about this.  Right now the best thing we need to get back in power is to link this to the Enron/Dubya/Big Bad Business model.  Right now, it doesn't matter what the problem is, only that the Repubs are the cause.  Most likely, they are.  All this supply talk really brings back memory of Enron right before they collapsed.

  •  I have some problems with all of this (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    StuartZ, Brian B, TheBlaz

    Can someone tell me how many more gallons of gasoline were consumed in 2005 vs 2004?

    Or March vs February?

    I have yet to meet people that just hop in their car and just drive around because they have nothing better to do and want to kill an hour or two.

    I have yet to see a gas station go out of business because they can't get or can't afford to buy from the wholesalers.

    I have yet to see lines of any kind because there is a shortage.

    I have yet to see limits on the amount of gallons that can be purchased because there is a shortage.

    I have yet to see anyone point out that oil companies, just like almost every other manufacturer, have gone from having inventories in storage to smooth the supply/demand issue to having what is called just-in-time delivery.

    I have yet to see people pointing out that the Alaskan oil is shipped to Korea, Japan, and on to China rather than supplied to the U.S. - it does NOT come here.

    I have yet to see people pointing out that gas pricing is like airline pricing - if one raises their price they all do. It is called collusion. It is called market-fixing. Why doesn't one of the companies set a lower price and murder the competition on volume sales?  Doesn't happen does it?  I haven't seen it, has anyone?

    Maybe I am just not paying attention.

    •  All true, but (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Floja Roja

      I have yet to see more than two people buying a hybrid car.  Better yet, no one I know has taken to riding public transportation (except me, who has always used it).  There was a spell when gasoline prices first jumped about 8 months ago that the bus got full, but the new riders have gone back to their cars.  Not many people I know have done a power efficiency inventory on their homes and calked, insulated, or taken other measures to prevent heat loss.  We are all still thinking that something is going to rescue us from the fate of no more oil.  Nothing, NOTHING, is on the horizon that can replace oil in our culture, which totally depends on oil.

      •  Good points. (4+ / 0-)

        Not one person I know is doing anything about their energy use. Yeah, they complain about high prices, but that's it. They still buy SUVs, they leave all the lights on at home all the time, they continue to buy disposable stuff that just ends up in the landfill, they don't bother with recycling....

        And these are liberals. Nobody is taking this seriously enough.

        The last time I saw anyone take these things seriously was when I was a teenager in the 70s. Back when our boyfriends all had gasoline breath from siphoning gas out of other people's cars (this is pre-locking gas cap) and there were long lines at every gas station.

        It's going to take something really major to wake people up this time.

        "I wish that for just one time You could stand inside my shoes You'd know what a drag it is To see you" - Dylan

        by Floja Roja on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 12:53:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Good corrective (0+ / 0-)

    to some largely superficial thinking about a complex business world.

    Yes, I'm willing to (carefully) use the topic short-term as a populist club to save our Republic from fascism, but lurking behind that appeal to our rabble-rousing instincts is the geological reality.

    Actually, the longer-term fact is, We (that's us, the Chinese, and everyone else) are just going to use it all up.

    All we're talking about is apportioning the timing, the benefits, and the effects.

    And we choose things like not destroying fragile biosystems, or at least waiting a long, long time for some usages that are much more valuable than now, and some acquisition methods that are less costly.  (Certainly less costly than piratic wars.)

    Yes, the Repubs are right about markets, in many many cases.  But that doesn't make them fit to rule.

    It is WE THE PEOPLE -- not them -- armed with the facts, who should get to decide how we interact with those market realities.

    If a thousand men were not to pay their tax bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State...

    by HenryDavid on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:53:12 AM PDT

  •  Why arent other petroleum products going up? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Moli, Boss Tweed

    Gasoline isnt the only thing made from oil.  With the price jumping higher and higher why isnt Vasoline going up or CD's or Saran Wrap?

    •  Petrochemicals are about 10% of oil usage. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      seaprog, mediaprisoner

      Furthermore, many petrochemicals are byproducts of gasoline refinement. Thus, they aren't as vulnerable to crude price swings.  Also, unlike gasoline, it's quite easy to keep a sizable inventory of plastics or fertilizer, so they may take longer to feel the price increases.

    •  Sweet Light Crude (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DCFD Rudi, seaprog

      The oil price you see quoted are for Sweet Light Crude. It is the highest grade of oil, and the one used for Gasoline and fuel.

      Most other stuff is made from lower grade oil, which is not climbing as fast in price. It also can't be used for fuel without major and expensive upgrades in refineries...which will cancel out any lower oil cost as an input. Plus, once we start trying to refine the gunk, that price will shoot up as well.

      •  and don't forget.... (0+ / 0-)

        .... that the lower grade crude requires production that releases far more toxins into the air, soil and water than SLC.  So even if we look to the lower grades as a "band-aid," it's simply going to accelerate the environmental damage that's increasing exponentially under Bush's watch.

  •  A trillion+ dollars (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melo

    thus far for the Iraq screwup.

    Can you imagine what could have been done with that money?

    With a trillion dollars, what kind of tax incentives could have been offered to consumers/producers to purchase/produce the following vehicle:

    Flex Fuel with a Solar Panel on the roof connected to the Tri-Hybrid engine (Flex/Battery/Natural Gas) which could also be plugged in as a recharge option.

    Crazy?  Not any more so than pissing that money away in Iraq.

  •  OK... (2+ / 0-)

    Perhaps I'm daft...

    But explain to me how my having 12 beers -- and anyone wanting my beer setting the price (by virtue of what they're willing to pay) constitutes a "free market" or anything other than some bastardized form of 'feudal capitalism'.   In a true free market - shouldn't I also have the option to go up to the bar myself for a beer?  Go across the street?   By my own 12 pack from the corner market... or cases from CostCo, etc?

    While I understand the frustration folks with the demagoguery towards big oil - I rather think a lot of it is well-deserved.   Here's where I'm possibly basing my thoughts on bad info - but please correct me if I'm wrong...

    While I understand that OPEC has a great deal of control over prices, BP-Amoco, Exxon-Mobil, etc are HUGE companies... they were big before conolidation - they're huge monopolies now.

    My understanding of the energy markets - at least in regards to fuel - is this:

    Oil is a traded commodity.  Companies/groups that pump the oil - sell it on this market, where supposedly S/D forces dictate its price.

    Correct so far?

    Isn't it true, though, that the folks that actually purchase the contracts - presumably to make gasoline, jet fuel, diesel, etc -  are generally the exact same folks that just sold the oil, aren't they?

    I.e., are the refiners and actual gas producers either the exact same company or just subsidiaries of the companies that just sold the oil contracts?

    Maybe some of the economists in the class are saying "yes, exactly... what's wrong with that?" -- but that just smells awfully fishy to me.

    While I don't know a whole lot about the oil and commodities trading industry -- I did spend a fair bit of time doing a SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) project that brought up a similar issue in the last MLB CBA.   To wit -- you had (and still have) rampant sports team purchasing done by media companies... ABC/Disney, Tribco, Rogers Communications, the Texas guy with the Rangers, Ted Turner, etc -- and teams NOT owned by media companies (the yankees) for example - were creating their own media pipelines.

    While the nominal team owners cried 'poor' - it was actually shown that the "team's" supposed financial woes (which were then pitched to cities so the cities would build them nice, shiny, taxpayer funded stadiums) were actually boons to sister subsidiaries.  I.e., the Cubs TV contract is worth X.  WGN -- owned by the Tribune Corporation just like the Cubs -- gets the TV contract for X-1.   Essentially - huge media conglomerates were gaming the system to show big profits or big losses whereever the subsidiary needs to show profits or losses were the greatest (whether to cry poor to cities, etc).

    Obviously - this all hinges on the idea that the oil suppliers are indeed either the same company, or, sister subsidiaries to the companies that buy the oil and produce gas....

    BUT - if that's the case, and I'm quite willing to be shown it's not - don't tell me its all 'market forces'.  It may not rise to the level of Enron shell games -- but if you don't think companies are gaming that system (legally or illegally), I want some of what you're smoking.

    I guess everyone's got their own blog now.

    by zonk on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 12:14:08 PM PDT

  •  Gimme Jimmy... (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    seaprog, melo, Detlef, rhubarb, Silverbird, mateosf

    What happened to the good-ole-days of energy independence and human rights.

    Hey, I use biodiesel, bike, walk, and by all my electiricty from non-fossil fuels sources.

    I support politicians that tell the truth, I am disgusted by most Democrats and their "preserve the empire rhetoric", but I will support Russ Feingold.

    The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. - Thomas Jefferson

    by american pastoral on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 12:17:18 PM PDT

  •  Exactly right (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    seaprog, Silverbird, mateosf

    High oil prices suck in the short term, but any effort to artifically lower prices right now is misgiven.

    It sucks for the party in power - it may well run Republicans out of office this fall when gas is $3.50 a gallon, and Democrats right back out again when it's $4.50 in 2008, then the Republicans again in 2010 when it's $8.50.  But there's nothing that can be done to stop it.

    It sucks for oil companies that are too slow to adapt and see their business model crushed.  Higher costs squeeze their margins on the supply side and consumer demands for cheap gas and politicians fear of economic collapse will create price controls to whittle profits away from the other direction.

    It definately sucks for low and middle income consumers who have to bear a huge increase in a major component of their budget.  And it sucks for American businesses that see their expenses climb dramatically.

    However, the transition away from oil dependence will be market driven.  In the current and political climate, that's the only thing that can do it.  People won't choose alternatives until the pain in their wallet forces them to.  Sooner is better than later, so I welcome today's high prices.

  •  Gouging investigations are mostly populist... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joe Bob, seaprog, mateosf

    ... claptrap - trying to demonstrate that we're actually DOING something without actually doing anything.

    Should gouging be investigated? Sure. But nobody is gouging. If we think the profits are obscene, then we need to change either how we tax these companies or introduce regulation. I'm mixed on both, but it's dishonest to accuse them of gouging when there appears to be virtually no change on the profit margin for gasoline sold.

    Not being honest with the American public is ultimately going to fail. How about an alternative to blaming the industry? How about the Democratic leadership meet with the oil execs and work out a plan that focuses instead on responsibility. Oil companies will support a windfall tax on profits provided that the money go directly toward mass-transit, alternative energy, and other mechanisms that will have a demonstrated effect on consumption. The oil companies are invited to participate in those mechanisms. They will also support a progressive and itemized tax on low-mileage vehicles. No cutoffs for weight, etc. If you buy a Hummer, your tax is X - it's a luxury. If you are a small business and buy a stake-sided truck, etc. you pay nothing, it's a necessity. Work it out on schedule C rather than at the point of sale so it's harder to route around - make it an audit trigger. Sure cut down on the number of people claiming home office deductions.

    In exchange, the Dems will partner with the oil companies to come clean on what's really happening here so they don't bear the whole blame for this - because they shouldn't. If you get big oil telling the public that we've peaked and that they won't be investing in additional refining capacity because the oil won't be there in 5 years to refine, and that the only long-term solution is to reduce consumption for gasoline so that the oil can extend into those products for which we have no substitute, then we've got something. The oil companies have to be worrying about their long-term future. This would give them one and invite them into other areas to make up for the loss.

    Some would argue that bad news is bad politics going into an election, but the reason why Congress is polling so poorly - both parties - is the general opinion among the population that nobody in government is being honest with us so we can actually work together - government and public - to solve our nations problems. People actually like being asked to sacrifice for a war - it makes them feel useful in society. People want to step up if they know that everyone is working toward a common goal. We don't have any of those and the Dems are missing a HUGE opportunity. Stop blaming and present a plan for everyone to participate.

    (Yes, I know of the Dems energy plan and it's a good one, but the shit hitting the news is all blame crap and nothing productive. It's infuriating. They're implementation sucks hard on this topic.)

    -6.00, -7.03
    "I want my people to be the most intolerant people in the world." - Jerry Falwell

    by johnsonwax on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 12:29:31 PM PDT

    •  Price Gouging is Rampant. (0+ / 0-)

      You think exxon is price gouging?

      They're amateurs.

      Amateurs that is when compared to McDonalds and P&G. Not only are both MCD and PG making record revenue selling burgers and bleach, but both companies run at close to a 13% profit margin.

      Exxon even when it's price gouging struggles to make 11 cents on the dollar.

      You know when it comes to price gouging and profiteering, Exxon could take some lessons from the burger and bleach boys.

  •  Love the passion, but... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melo, Silverbird, TheBlaz

    To be honest, you are speaking from your gut, not from real commercial experience.

    If you dis-integrated the oil companies, the prices would go down.  Split production, distribution, refining, and retail, and each would achieve a level of competition that would miraculously lead to lower end-cost.

    When integrated, there is a perverse counter-incentive on the part of the oil companies to improve refining capacity.  Yes, they blame capital costs and regulation, but the reality is that the return on capital of their restricting supply is MUCH better than on actually improving efficiency.

    The same holds true at the retail level.

    In addition, since each level of the chain is beholden to crude oil, they do not independently seek the most cost-effective solution for the consumer.  Should retailers (gas stations) offer LNG?  Or timeshare car rentals?  

    Should refiners diversify into alternative fuels?  Maybe.  But without a competitive market, there is no incentive.

    In the end, we have to consume less, but having more companies participate in the oil profit stream would diversify investment in ways that would benefit consumers with more choices and result in solutions that reduced oil without draconian legislation.

    Frankly, many of the ills in our large-corporation economy would be solved by more capitalism, not more regulation.  The government should have an eagle-eye for places where competition has ceased not just at the macro-level ("oil companies") but at every step of the chain and where major public interests like the environment are managed.

    As an example, think about online music.  If the music producers were able to absolutely control all distribution of their IP, would we ever get MP3?  iPOD?  Not likely.

    Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk. - Thoreau

    by harrier on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 12:33:00 PM PDT

    •  Love the ideology, but ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      seaprog, theran, Doolittle Sothere

      To be honest, you are speaking as a technologist/economist, not from real political or market experience.

      The market has already failed to provide solutions, and so we need Government to deliver the swift, big boot of good policy to the fat arse iof industry. Your argument is 40 years old, and has gotten us nowhere.

      I'm speaking as someone who was there (as in, in the room with the guy writing it) for deregulation of telecom, trains, trucks and the breakup of Ma Bell.

      I am the federal government.

      by mateosf on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:23:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Very nice, but... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    besieged by bush

    I have a hard time with the supply aspect of the gas prices.  Nearly a full dollar / gallon difference exists in gasoline costs at this time throughout the United States.  Here is a great gas cost temperature map across the country.

    For a theory to be acceptable, it must fit all the facts.  How does global supply being the primary cause of prices fit in with price differences this large?

    I whole-heartedly agree that supply is going down, and that we need to do more to reduce our demand.  However, to add some grey into this argument, I don't think I would eliminate some games being played by the oil companies.

    "Everyone wishes to have truth on his side, but not everyone wishes to be on the side of truth" - Richard Whately

    by unbound on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 12:56:40 PM PDT

    •  Could local taxes play a role? (0+ / 0-)

      The fact that the cheap gas (green on your map) stops at state boundaries is probably significant. California is also uniformly expensive.

      •  Definitely a factor... (0+ / 0-)

        I would agree that local taxes are a factor, but that doesn't completely add up.  There are some boundary violations (green in some of the yellow states, and yellow in some of the green)...and there are a number of small greens throughout the middle of the country.

        Although I'm no longer familiar with local taxes in the mid-west, I'm pretty sure those four states are not the only states with low taxes.  And I'm very confused by Elko, NV being $2.65 average versus their neighboring counties (e.g. White Pine, NV is $3.06 average).

        In any case, it would seem that global supply is not the only factor...and perhaps not even the primary factor...

        "Everyone wishes to have truth on his side, but not everyone wishes to be on the side of truth" - Richard Whately

        by unbound on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 05:45:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Not all gasoline is the same (0+ / 0-)

      Just a couple of thoughts...

      1. There are many different formulations of gasoline in addition to the typical three grades of octane, and they vary from state to state. For instance, my state requires a particular percentage of ethanol blended in. Other states may mandate different additives or processes, like those that reduce smog-forming emissions.
      1. Refineries, as well as the entire distribution infrastructure for gasoline (from pipelines to tanker trucks) is not equally distributed throughout the country. Ergo, varying distribution costs equal varying prices at the pump.
      •  Also a factor... (0+ / 0-)

        Formulations of gasoline do change region to region, and, in some cases, state by state.  However, the bleeding effect (response to post above) would seem to rule this out in some cases as well.

        The refineries would definitely be a factor for the good 4 states...however, there are many refineries along much of the coast (not just the gulf coast).  Also, I wouldn't expect to see such sudden shifts state by state...and even county by county if it was simply a matter of distribution.

        Finally, some of the green spots (individual counties) in the middle of the country are rather far away from any refinery but would be impacted by any formulations the same as neighboring counties.

        I'm not saying that there isn't a number of factors involved in the pricing of gas.  I'm just trying to point out that the oil companies could very well be playing a few unethical games themselves which is adding a certain premium to our gas prices...

        "Everyone wishes to have truth on his side, but not everyone wishes to be on the side of truth" - Richard Whately

        by unbound on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 05:54:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Report on energy exploration & production (0+ / 0-)

    Red Light, Green Light report

    Red Light, Green Light: Exploration & Production – Going Global
    "To identify areas of opportunity and challenge, the Energy Center polled Ernst & Young professionals in Canada, China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Norway, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates to rate those countries’ readiness for investment by U.S. energy companies. All 10 countries are hot prospects for energy investment. But each country has its own dynamics and complexities, signaling smart investors to perform varying levels of risk assessments and due diligence."

    "Help us to save free conscience from the paw -- Of hireling wolves whose gospel is their maw." --John Milton

    by ohiolibrarian on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 12:58:55 PM PDT

  •  Nice piece, but one quibble... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    besieged by bush, Silverbird, SherriG

    Those investments were not really that risky, not risky at all if you think about it.

    They were gaining knowledge and playing for the long haul. Every one of those that failed told them something: either don't bother there, or we'll hold that one in reserve until prices can sustain it.

    They did everything in their power to stay the course: They bought up renewables and sat on them to ensure astronomical profits in post Peak oil markets.

    They bribed our government and got handouts to help them through the lean times.

    They bribed our government and got destruction of efficiency standards.

    They bribed our government and got military and diplomatic support to keep them in business.

    All of these things were done to preserve the future that we are now living in: crippling costs to American families, and astronomical profits. The worse it gets the stronger they become, and the more allowances have to be made for their well being.

    I am not a big fan of 'price gouging' as a frame. I really favor something that brings the concept above into play.

    I want Big Oil and every other Corporate Cartel like them out of my government. The Government used to belong to the people. It worked for people. It protected people. It was the people.

    Now the government belongs to corporate cartels. It works for corporate cartels. It protects corporate cartels. It is a corporate Cartel.

    Ignore the base, hide our values, and chase the swing voter and we not only lose, but we fall farther behind.

    by k9disc on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:11:51 PM PDT

    •  Very risky, because Americans had (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FaithAndReason, theran

      all of the information we needed to wake up 35 years ago, and we decided to keep sleeping through the bribery and shenanigans and etc. Had we gotten wise to this back when Carter warned us, those oil company investments would have been another S&L bailout.

      Denial is perhaps the most powerful human emotion, but claims of victimhood are not its cure.

      I am the federal government.

      by mateosf on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 06:03:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I wish I could get fuel at US prices (0+ / 0-)

    as most of the rest of the world does!

  •  Explanation From www.theoildrum.com (9+ / 0-)

    http://www.theoildrum.com/...

    Oil companies sell to refineries

       

    Not all oil companies own refining companies. In fact, a very few actually own their refineries. They just find, drill and produce crude which they sell on the NYMEX or other markets, to refiners. A refiner can take crude from anybody—Exxon from Shell, Chevron from BP, etc.

    Refineries sell to distributors

       

    This means that an Exxon refinery can sell gasoline to a Shell distributor. The distributor chooses where to buy his products from. Naturally, Shell Oil Refining would offer a Shell Distributor a pretty discounted price, but not necessarily the lowest he might find. Thus distributors can buy from anybody and sell to anybody, regardless of their "affiliation" with a given oil company. A distributor may be an "Authorized Chevron Distributor", and thus he can sell Techron type gasoline. But that doesn't mean he is restricted to just selling Chevron products. Independent distributors (more of them than any other type) are listed in the Yellow Pages under Fuel Companies or Fuel Distributors. These are the middlemen.

    Distributors sell to retailers

       

    These independents actually buy gas from whoever they get the best deal from, then sell it to their customers. If you have ever wondered why there is an Exxon tanker filling up a Fina gas station tank, it is because the distributor is an Exxon affiliate, but the Fina station owner got a better deal from Exxon than from Fina. This happens all the time. Distributors also sell grease and transmission fluid and hydraulic fluid and motor oil to industry. You can often see distributors trucks servicing construction sites or businesses operating a fleet of vehicles.

       Retailers can buy whatever they want from whoever they can get the best price! These corporations are usually very divorced from the nuts and bolts of oil companies, that focus on retailing gasoline and convenience store operation. The retail chain may be a Shell-owned convenience store, supplied by a Shell affiliated distributor, but he (distributor) may buy his oil from Murphy Oil Refining. So while the buyer thinks he is getting Shell gasoline, what he is getting is gasoline from a Shell Distributor, but produced by Murphy Oil Refining.

       I have loosely used Big Oil Company names here to make a point. However, many of the big guys keep a close reign on their distributors. But that does not preclude them selling whatever they want to independent retailers, like Samir's Quicky Mart.

       Thus unless a gasoline has a patented ingredient (like Techron) or other additive, it will not necessarily wind up being sold by the affiliate retailer. And we haven't even gotten to supply contracts yet, which further complicate things.

    Summing up...

       

    At every level of these distribution chains, people are trying to buy low and sell high. This is extremely confusing for everybody, but it is the way it works. But if you keep this in mind—oil companies sell to refiners—you can quickly see why oil companies get pissed when the finger pointing starts.

    So, if there is gouging, where is it happening?

       

    My opinion is that the gouging, if any, is going on at a very local level, no higher up than the local gasoline distributors. The most opportunistic way to maximize your cash would be to buy this week's gasoline for $2.50 a gallon, and then if something (like high oil prices) allows you to, mark this shipment of $2.50 gas up to $3.00. [Keep in mind that some states regulate the maximum profit on a gallon of gas.] Normally gas markup is about a nickel a gallon or such. The convenience store makes much more on food—the gasoline is the draw to get them into the store to buy cigarettes or candy or a coke, which have much higher profit margins.

       The people who control the final price at the pump are the retailing companies or independent store owners. And these guys are more than happy to put it off on the oil companies, as they are very removed from them!

       I know—as clear as mud. But it is the "free economy" at work...

    Why are oil companies making record profits?

       

    Because the wells they are producing from today were drilled in past years, where they used $15-25 per barrel as their estimated selling price for the oil. Thus when the market got tight, they have cheap oil going at a higher price. Why? Simple—demand is high.

       Now this higher priced oil is filtering back to them in the form of higher priced goods, so the profits decline slowly over time as higher priced energy enters the economic mill. But right now, they are making a lot of money.

    So, it is not the case that oil companies are incurring high exploration costs and passing these costs onto the consumer?

     

    No. Oil companies are not setting the retail price except via the NYMEX, where they sell to refiners.

       When the traders run the price up, oil companies naturally win. But the crude price is set by market demand i.e., what will they pay today?

    So, let's say, very hypothetically, that Exxon Mobil wanted to make a gesture of good faith. Could they sell the crude for cheaper in hopes of lower prices at the pump, or does the nature of the futures market and all of the middlemen make that impossible?

       

    It would not work for exactly the reasons you think.

       But...

       ExxonMobil, owning their own up and down stream divisions, could sell at a loss or reduced profit on the retail end, provided they compensated their convenience store owners for their lost gasoline revenues (these stores are franchises). But that would make whatever cut they did offer twice as financially painful—they would take the announced cut and associated reduction in profit, and then have to pay the store owners their traditional profit to keep them happy.

       So you are not asking them to just fall on their own sword, but to get back up and hurl their bloodied body on it again...ouch!

       So—if ExxonMobil did do this, it would be a huge gesture! But only those in the same business would understand the magnitude of what they had done. And whoever did it would shortly be replaced by the Board of Directors as the principal shareholders all called for his head on a pike! Remember, outside of the energy sector, the stock market is a total losing proposition.

    (if by "criminalization of politics" you mean politics being taken over by criminals, you are absolutely correct)

    by Drezden on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:25:00 PM PDT

  •  What is needed (0+ / 0-)

    Public transportation...  Think, if we could get every city in America to run on a monorail system like the one in Batman Begins?  It could run purely on clean fuel.  Then we could connect rural America to the cities by building clean fuel trains running across the country.

  •  sorry dude (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lrhoke, besieged by bush, TheBlaz

    i really agree with your analysis, especially the more macroeconomic elements of it.

    but it IS only a part of the problem.

    to say that the current gas prices can be attributed entirely to scarcity is, I believe, oversimplifying the situation.

    There are many factors that influence oil prices and then many more that influence gasoline prices here in the States; For example, you fail to mention that no U.S. company has built a new refinery on American soil since the late 1970's.  Big Oil influences end gasoline prices by forcing the already expensive Middle Eastern and Venezuelan oil (pricey because of the reasons you outline) through the 'bottleneck' of our limited refining capacity (even more limited since Katrina and the hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico).

    Also, it is price gouging.  There is much evidence for this, not to mention the reluctance of Big Oil executives to testify under oath.

    The amount of "oil men" in the White House also has something to do with this; be it Cheney's Secret Energy Task Force or Bush's latest relaxation in EPA standards.

    You are right to the extent that bitching about it will not do much good for now, and implicating Big Oil Executives as the sole scapegoat is also an oversimplication of the problem.  
    Which is why we can't do anything about it, it would take time and a will we don't have to unravel this mess.

  •  I'm learning to ride and take care of a horse! (0+ / 0-)

    36 billion profit baby and 400 million retirement package including personal bodyguards.  Guess he will need them

  •  not so fast, mate (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lrhoke, shpilk, drsmith131, TheBlaz

    Your analysis, while appearing logical, is based on numbers which were basically pasted in by the oil companies to make it seem innocent. I think there is room for some skepticism here.

    1. When a corporation reports profit, that means what money is left over after all saleries and operating costs are paid. So in the top tier of managment at Exxon, what do you suppose that means? 10 Bil. for saleries? Whatever! They can buy cruise ships and jets, call them company expenses, hide billions in Swiss banks, launder money through Wal-Mart banks, one day the truth will come out, and it ain't going to be pretty.
    1. The idea of letting the price of commodities like oil and electricity float in the market has been proven over and over to fail. These giant corporations never compete with each other. Why? Because they have so much power in Washington that they can rip us off and never get whacked.

    Mate, you either work for the oil companies, or you are easily fooled. I'm gettin' tired of the crap.

  •  Meanwhile.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lrhoke, stitchmd

    What's going on in Iraq we're not being told about?

    Am I just paranoid or does everything seem like a diversion?

    Put on your jockstrap, Herb, because I intend to give your cojones a mean twist.

    by HillaryIsMyHomegirl on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 01:57:28 PM PDT

  •  No it doesn't (5+ / 0-)

    "Oil runs through the spiritual veins of every warm-blooded, true American patriot, it is our national birthright, it is our children's future, our greatest strength, our economic lynchpin, our one true cause ... "

    Automobiles do.  Roads do.  Not oil.  

    The Oil companies are selling us Oil saying "here, you're addicted, take it!"

    We're not addicted to oil.  We're addicted to the free road.  They just want us to be confused.

    Most people are idiots... But don't tell them. It'll spoil all the fun for those of us who aren't.

    by d3n4l1 on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 02:01:18 PM PDT

    •  Exactly what I was thinking when I read that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lrhoke

      part of the diary.  People are taking this opportunity to take a stab at the American way of life, even our desire for independence and backyards, demanding that we give it all up for oil.

      No, we can still have it and have no oil.  There are clean substitutes for oil that would allow us to drive and not hurt the environment, and not give up our lives for cramped city apartments, and drive in open space.  

      Our values and desire to continue with the things we love run through our veins, not oil, and we can keep them if we really try, purge the govt. of oil people who are literally basing their whole beings on oil, and who don't want us to get an alternative.  

      Oh and by the way, I'll be damned if I'll overlook the retiring exec of Exxon's arrogance and wallowing in oil and greed while others in the country die for lack of 1/100000 of what he has made on their backs.

      •  Uh huh... (0+ / 0-)

        Exactly how? As was noted, if we max out production of bio-diesel, we will cover approximately 1.5% of present gas consumption. Add in ethanol and we're still talking less than 5%.

        So, exactly how are you gonna manage this trick?

        Please answer the question without resorting to the magical "Gandalf 2000", that gets 300mpg with 400hp, can pull a boat and hold up to an entire soccer mom's team? Amazingly enough there isn't a secret room where the Oil and auto companies keep hidden such technologies.

        •  You tell me how other countries do it if it (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lrhoke

          is impossible.  I saw a program the other night about Brazils use of sugar caine.  We can't use that, nor is it practical to use corn, but they said that there is a lot of promise for other types of fuel using a mixture of various plant parts. I don't know what your "Gandalf2000" is, but you can't convince me that we are unable to  come up with an alternative.  The refusal to think out of the box and to instead rely on conservation entirely is not going to do it.  Everything started from nothing at some time.  We may not even use "fuel" in some kind of liquid form, but there is something out there that can be used to power cars.  It is probably already in existence, but hidden by people who would stand to lose their oil profits if it were promoted. I also imagine that for every nay sayer that says that ethanol and other sources will only alleviate .0000000001 percent of our oil use, there are statistics that say otherwise.

          Sorry, but it is time to move to the next step through using our imaginations, and finding alternatives,not riding our bikes.  this is a type of revolution on the level of  moving into the industrial age, conserving the old way will not do it.  Packing millions of people into population centers, getting tiny apartments, and riding bikes just won't do it.  It is not possible to change this society into that.

          •  So... (5+ / 1-)
            Recommended by:
            DCFD Rudi, Asak, theran, mediaprisoner, Lollipops
            Hidden by:
            lrhoke

            You advocate a "Faith Based" approach?

            I'm sure there are alternatives. Brazil has a much lower standard of living, for example...and are in fact piled into population centers to a great degree. Few split-levels with the Stupid User Vehicle ("I have kids!!!!!") and the big yard. Europe has a much greater rural/urban divide, rather than idiot 'burbs.

            Alternative energy will be used. It just won't allow for everyone to happily just flip over while keeping the same lifestyle. People will have to do a lot of the stuff that horrifies you as well. We'll keep the technology, the advance medicines, etc...but we won't be sprawling all over.

            Sorry, just the way it is.

            •  I don't share your belief that Americans are (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              lrhoke

              idiots, and have to be preached to.  Believe it or not, a lot of us are aware of the situation.  I imagine you are a city dweller and have been all of your life.  You can't conceptualize what living in another area of the country is like, and the fact that the answer is not as symplistic as some here think.  Move to the city, ride a bike, buy, buy, buy, a prius.  Rural living is something that you should tryout.  Get out and see the country, if only on vacation.  If you have lived in a rural area before, you have traded in your memories, for some elite bunch of propaganda, and have forgotten common sense of what to do for a country that has half its population in areas that can't conform to your solutions.  

              I don't look at the entire American way of life as trash.

              •  wtf (0+ / 0-)

                don't buy the "elite" meme.  the elites are members of the aristocracy.  there is no such thing as the liberal elites.  they were created by the right-wing to deflect.

                and what do you know about the commenter, anyway?  i've lived in rural(ish) and urban areas, and i have numerous relatives who live rural lifestyles.  in all honesty, the rural ones are categorically less educated, more oblivious, and have stronger feelings of entitlement in regards to being able to live particular lifestyles.

                as one of those peak oil guys said, "deal with reality or reality will deal with you."

                you can rearrange my face but you can't rearrange my mind -8.63,-7.28

                by mediaprisoner on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 08:13:13 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Utterly Neutral (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                DCFD Rudi

                Again, I could care less about what you want and like. Or what I want and like.

                I'd like to believe that I'm owed Hallie Berry, but funny enough in world of reality I doubt she would agree. I don't expect anyone will make laws to insure that reality is avoided.

                There is no known or expected technology which will make suburbs/exurbs viable sans oil. None. In fact, they aren't with oil...but the loss is possible to hide with subsides. Oil tips it beyond that point. There is no effort to stop anyone from living the way they like. But there is also zero reason to subsidize a choice.

                You want the 'burbs? Great! Enjoy. Pay for it yourself. Neither I nor anyone else owes you a handout to pay your inefficient energy costs. Nor do we owe you handouts until your "Faith based" energy policy pans out.

                That simple.
                •  Actually, I don't live in the burbs (0+ / 0-)

                  I live in the middle of a city, 3 miles from it's center.  I have lived in other areas including rural, small town areas, which have unique problems in regard to transportation and energy use.  I don't think people quite understand the vastness of this country, until they have experienced all ways of living here. I don't really care about the subburbs as much as I do those people, and their inablity to crowd into city areas.  No, everyone does not make their own choices.  It is impossible to put 300000000 people in cities, nor to locate jobs there for them.  Yet these threads seem to be dominated by people who expect that and don't understand the intricacies of American life for the vast majority of the population.

                  No one energy source will move cars, but a combination of them is a real possibility, and I think there are a lot of scientists and people who would beg to differ on the prospects of development of something or things which will alleviate a lot of the problem.

                  •  Again (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    DCFD Rudi, theran

                    That's "Faith Based". Someone, somewhere will "find a way".

                    I'm not saying that everyone will live in cities. Quite the contrary. However, we will see a return to the urban/rural divide, with the death of the outer 'burbs along the way. There will be more of a need for an agrarian rural society to produce food as well as the new crops of bio-fuel plants. These will have to be served by rail and/or shipping. The rivers will again become highways for goods, as long haul trucking becomes non-economic.

                    That means the techinical, financial, and industrial work will have to be done in population centers which can get distribution by water and rail. Plus, these centers will need nearby agriculture to cover what can't be shipped.

                    Big houses in the burbs will be non-economic, and a waste of usable agricultural land.

                    That's just the way it is.

                    •  Brownfields (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      DCFD Rudi

                      Big houses in the burbs will be non-economic, and a waste of usable agricultural land.

                      It's not clear to me that exurbs are recoverable as farmland.

                      If you think you're that far ahead, then get the chips in the middle of the table!

                      by theran on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 09:03:18 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  That is a pretty wide analysis (0+ / 0-)

                      of the future and then you always end it with That's just the way it is.  Prove it.  Until then your words are just as bogus as you believe mine are.  In fact your senerio is so far reaching we might be flying cars by the time it would come to fruition.  I can't believe how sure of yourself you are, and how dismissive of others, based on well....nothing concrete that I can see.

                      That's just the way it is.

                      •  Nothing concrete? (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        theran

                        Have you read any of the data provided in this diary and threads?

                        Magic biofuel - We can produce, full out an equivalent of 1.5% of the present oil consumption.

                        Magic cars - People keep saying that the special deep dark black ops have hidden the super duper plans for the Gandalf 2000, that can get 300mpg with 400hp, capable of running a Suburban equivalent.

                        Magic Density - Somehow you will get mixed use zoning and businesses and shops in a low density area that can't support them. When questioned, you will get density without giving up the sprawled out hosuing that doesn't allow for density.

                        Magic Infrastructure - See today's Note for a link to the Trib. Road construction and repair supplies are now doubled and rising in cost. Why? Most of them are petrolium based.

                        Plain and simple...once you dismiss the super magic special things asserted (yet not backed up) by the Faith based community, it's not too hard to extrapolate what the results are in a restrictive energy society.

                        Now, if the magic happens the rules change. But I usually don't bet on magic any more than I intend to plan on this not mattering because the rapture is coming.

                        •  I'm not positing magic density (0+ / 0-)

                          My claim is that towns will either depopulate or start to look more like this and less like this.

                          Either way, more compact layouts are going to come back.

                          If you think you're that far ahead, then get the chips in the middle of the table!

                          by theran on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 03:06:03 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Exactly (0+ / 0-)

                            I'm not saying everything not a city or rural small town will die. What will happen is that things will adapt as you note or die. I'm sure that sprawl will coalesce into tighter towns in the closer in areas.

                            (To use VA, Arlington vs Fairfax or worse yet, Loudon. My gut says tighter and more dense areas in a mile radius of the Metro, with a decline in all areas outside of this.)

                            But in and of itself, that will mean more city style development, rather than what people think of when they think 'burb.

                        •  Yes I have been reading the thread and I (0+ / 0-)

                          found this series of comments interesting.  As I suggested above, for every supposedly scientific view, you can find another scientific view that contradicts it .   http://www.dailykos.com/...

                          There is nothing sure or that you can claim will or will not happen for sure.  And that is a good thing, because that would cause people to stop at where they are and not go further.  And in research, there is nothing wrong with hyperbole in imagination.  Without it, we would not be tempted to go out on a limb, and take risks.

                          I remember a doctor telling me that most of the cures for diseases that have been discovered so far were cures discovered by mistake while a person was doing research in another area rather than found as a result of very focused research to find a cure for that disease.  To say that something will never happen because we haven't yet discovered the answer, often makes a fool of a person later when it does happen.

                      •  Oh (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        theran

                        And exurbs and depp suburbs already only exist because of huge subsidies in infrastructure and development. All energy is doing is pushing out the costs so far that you can't slip in implicit subsidies anymore. They are becoming explicit very rapidly.

        •  Actually you're wrong..... (0+ / 0-)

          Not a secret room, but the oil and auto companies for years certainly HAVE been buying up patents to technologies that they felt threatened the future of their businesses, so they couldn't be implemented.

          My father, who was a serious auto enthusiest and student of the auto intustry, told my family of this several times.

          •  Patents? Sweeet!! (0+ / 0-)

            If it's in a patent, it's published.  So all you need to do is read up on the patents, then head on over to China and start production of the Gandalf2000! What's GM gonna do, invade China?

            In other words, patents only protect you in the US.  Perhaps you meant "trade secrets"?

            "I hear the voices" -- George Walker "Son Of Sam" Bush
            Darcy Burner for WA-08

            by FaithAndReason on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 08:38:31 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Not 300mpg, but 100mpg (0+ / 0-)

          Check out RMI's "hypercar" design at www.hypercar.com  They claim that with currently lightweight materials and engine designs, you can build an SUV that gets 100mpg.  And the whole "soccer mom's team" is a lame excuse, just like the people who claim they need an SUV for "offroading" when it's only used for the daily commute.

          "I hear the voices" -- George Walker "Son Of Sam" Bush
          Darcy Burner for WA-08

          by FaithAndReason on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 08:41:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  those who are the most heavily invested in this (0+ / 0-)

      dream, the ones who can least afford it are the ones who will pay the most dearly as the prices rocket skyward.

      I agree with you - there is something in the American spirit - it IS a big country - that leads to wanting the freedom to roam .. our whole infrastructure is built around oil.

      It's the poor who will pay the most as we wrangle with the changes .. it certainly isn't going to be the rich that feel any pain.

      "Rovus Vulgaris Americanus" nasty, freshly-demoted, soon-to-be-indicted co-conspirator -7.63, -9.59

      by shpilk on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 04:29:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I could care less about oil..... (0+ / 0-)

      Several years ago, I read about the potential for hydrogen as a fuel in a popular science magazine.

      Since then, I have been very interested about the potential to find something else to fuel our vehicles that is less damaging to the environment, more efficient and less expensive.

      But those who think we can stuff the "genie" of American life back in the bottle, ARE NUTS.

      I can't BELIEVE the people here are are talking about the american suburbs as if they are evil.
      GIVE ME A FUCKING BREAK!!!

      I don't WANT to live in a fricking apartment.  

      I want a yard, fresh air and the ablility to enjoy wildlife.  I get to see hawks flying low over my house and yard all the time.  I see interesting snakes.  The other day my family and I went on a bike ride and to our great joy, we watched a mother rabbit and her two babies romping around.  I raise box turtles.  Every now and then I see foxes and deer close to our home.

      Those of you who want to sneer at this....you can go fuck yourselves as far as I'm concerned.  You people are as narrow minded and judgemental as some of the worst republicans.

      I want my children to live in a safe neighborhood and I want them to have good schools.  HOW DARE you judge me and others for how we want to live.

      How many of you judgemental "urban dwellers" depend on airplanes to get over "flyover country" or back and forth "across the pond"?

      Well if cars are gonna go, so can the damned airplanes.

      •  While I agree with you 100%, (0+ / 0-)

        please use kinder language.

        Nothing wrong with the suburbs, it's true. What's wrong is our over-reliance on a rapidly dwindling and highly destructive form of energy.

        Unless we all start preparing for the post-petroleum world - and FAST - city, suburbs, it won't matter, none of us will be able to go anywhere without mortgaging the kids, if at all.

        You should look into biodiesel, you can actually make it in your garage pretty easily and get a free source by gathering up used cooking oil from area restaurants. For reals, not making this up.

        I am the federal government.

        by mateosf on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 08:00:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I don't see much sneering (0+ / 0-)

        just a frustration with the mess we're in, and wondering how we let it go so far.

        But the bottom line is that the suburbs -- love 'em or hate 'em -- will be ghost towns within a decade if we don't figure out a different arrangement.  Peak Oil is real.  Crude oil production is currently flat, and will begin declining in the next few years.  There's simply nothing that we can do to change that.  Nothing.

        So if the suburban lifestyle is important to you, what do you and other like-minded suburban dwellers plan to do to preserve it?  Not a snark, I'm curious.

        "I hear the voices" -- George Walker "Son Of Sam" Bush
        Darcy Burner for WA-08

        by FaithAndReason on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 08:30:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  That's cool (0+ / 0-)

        Pay for it yourself then.

      •  Well, I hope you have a plan (0+ / 0-)

        And by that I would recommend investing heavily in oil companies and commodities, because that's the only way you're going to be able to afford your gas bill.  Saying you like living out in the middle of nowhere is great, but you're going to have to pay the price.  Acting belligerent is not going to change reality in the slightest.  

        In Britain they admit to having royalty. In the United States we pretend we don't have any, and then we elect them president.

        by Asak on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:38:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  and when.... (0+ / 0-)

        ...the people who want the good schools, clean air, and so forth, for their kids abandon the cities, is it any wonder that there's no motivation to improve things urban areas?  The money and manpower that used to breed excellence in schools, clean neighborhoods, and livable urban spaces ran away in fear - a