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There is a real price for gas, but it's not just by the gallon.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Coming on the heels of the CBS hack job against (10+ / 0-)

    clean tech this is welcome most heartily. Nobody talks about the massive subsidies the oil and gas industries get in this country but let one tax dollar go to a solar panel and it's the end of the world.

    There are lies, damn lies, and statistics but they all pale in comparison to conservative talking points.

    by ontheleftcoast on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 09:32:09 AM PST

    •  I also like to point out: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      corvo

      The Royal House of Saud owns 50% of Aramco, estimated to be worth $10 trillion.

      The Dutch royal family owns 25% of Shell.

      The British royal family owns almost 10% of BP.

      You have essentially three foreign families, which include 1000s of beneficiaries each, who take billions of US tax dollars in direct largesse every single year, and no one speaks a word of it. Who exactly is in charge of our democracy here?

      I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business.

      by CFAmick on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 10:13:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent cartoon, it's been on my mind since the (6+ / 0-)

    1960's, the environmental and political costs are incalculable.

    To thine ownself be true

    by Agathena on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 09:33:08 AM PST

  •  I don't get it (0+ / 0-)

    since the sticker price totally doesn't include any of those things.

    •  We pay it in the form of tax dollars (4+ / 0-)

      which turn in to massive profits for the 0.01%, primarily the MIC. Which creates a flawed incentive system, at least if you really believed in a "free market". By not seeing the real cost for a gallon of gas when we pay at the pump consumers have little incentive to change behavior. Instead they gripe about "the gubbimint" in April and don't put the two costs together in their minds.

      There are lies, damn lies, and statistics but they all pale in comparison to conservative talking points.

      by ontheleftcoast on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 09:42:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I guess I'm just too old to get cartoons! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ontheleftcoast

        because the way I see it, the $3.99 explicitly does NOT include the trillions of tax dollars that pay for all those things.

        Suppose that this is some type of irony that's well over my head.  D'oh!!

        •  Gotcha. If you live where I do then $3.99 gas (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Roadbed Guy, corvo

          wouldn't seem high but I think the current average is around $3.20/gal.

          There are lies, damn lies, and statistics but they all pale in comparison to conservative talking points.

          by ontheleftcoast on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 09:58:26 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Oh OK - yeah, the price didn't strike me (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ontheleftcoast

            as anything other than what I'd see driving to work . ..

            (well, regular is a few cents cheaper, the higher grades right about that level).

            IIRC, the peripheral costs of gasoline are about $60 to 80 / bbl - or about $1.50 to $2.00 gallon.

            So if the cartoon had the sticker price at $5.99, then even I would have gotten it . ..

            •  Gasoline would still be a super bargain at $5.99 (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              corvo

              A price of $59.99 a gallon would still not cover the true external costs of climate change, health effects and wars - past, present and future.

              •  Did you pick that number on purpose (0+ / 0-)

                to be close to the entire size of the US economy?

                I'm not sure how that would work - i.e., paying * everything * for energy.  I suppose that the idea is that correspondingly greater economic activity would derive from all the revenue flowing in for the fuel.

                Or maybe the golden goose would more or less have been killed at that point.  

    •  Military industrial complex (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Claudius Bombarnac, corvo

      How does the House of Saud not view the US military as a private army to protect its bank accounts?

      I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business.

      by CFAmick on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 10:15:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Saudi agenda (0+ / 0-)

    Please don't reject this opinion piece from eastern europe without careful thought.

    The Winter Olympics

    Since 9/11/01 I have speculated on the ties of the perps to Saudi training and funding of Wahhabi extremists.  The media, my government representatives, the pResident and Congress want me to look the other way.  “Hey, look at this new shiny object.” Don't blame  American journalists.  

    Investigative journalism is a high risk occupation.  Some shine a light into the darkness of ignorance.

    Full disclosure:  This article lacks links to verifiable sources, Putin isn't talking, nor is Obama.  They both may think (believe) peasants like myself must read between the lines.  I have no affiliation with the website, author, or Sochi.

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/...

    Volgograd and the Conquest of Eurasia: Has the House of Saud seen its Stalingrad?
    By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
    Global Research, January 03, 2014

    The events in Volgograd are part of a much larger body of events and a multi-faceted struggle that has been going on for decades as part of a cold war after the Cold War—the post-Cold War cold war, if you please—that was a result of two predominately Eurocentric world wars. When George Orwell wrote his book 1984 and talked about a perpetual war between the fictional entities of Oceania and Eurasia, he may have had a general idea about the current events that are going on in mind or he may have just been thinking of the struggle between the Soviet Union and, surrounded by two great oceans, the United States of America.

  •  Gov't destruction of middle class jobs/economy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, corvo

    Massive Government subsidies pick winners but they also create "losers" to the extent that some fuel systems of technologies cannot compete in a rigged system.  Capitalism does not favor fossil fuels, policy does.

    Trains, alternative energy technology etc. are economically hamstrung or destroyed because of governmental interference and false incentives interjected into an (un)free-market system.  

    Jobs, U.S. exports, value-added industrial products and technological advancements systematically destroyed or never occur when the government heavily favors, protects and subsidizes fossil fuels.  Grossly under-priced gasoline encourages transportation, living and purchasing decisions (big cars, unreasonable road/highway expansion & reliance, poor transportation infrastructure etc.) that would be unthinkable in a market uncorrupted by government favoritism.

    sláinte,
    cl
    -- Religion is like sodomy: both can be harmless when practiced between consenting adults but neither should be imposed upon children.

    by Caoimhin Laochdha on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 10:00:28 AM PST

  •  3.99 is cheap for all of that crap nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rovertheoctopus

    nosotros no somos estúpidos

    by a2nite on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 10:55:52 AM PST

  •  Actually... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Claudius Bombarnac

    ...you can calculate the cost of the externalities (well, the economic part, at least -- I'll skip over the gruesomeness of allocating the "cost" of 5,000 American soldiers and 2 million Iraqis who died).

    For example, if it cost $3 trillion for the Iraq war, and Iraq supplies 5% of a global yield of 82 million bbl/day over 10 years, you have 82 million x 365 x 10 = 299.3 billion barrels of oil and $3 trillion to allocate.  This comes out to about $10/bbl.  I don't know how much gasoline you get from 42 gallons of crude, so I'll call it 50 gallons.  (If you know how this works, you can adjust the calculations as needed.)  So "maintaining hegemony in the Middle East" runs us 20 cents/gallon.  But a lot of our other "nation building" exercises (backed by the military) cost more than that.  So the military cost overall is probably around 50-60 cents a gallon if not more.

    We don't know what the cost of global warming is.  But it's likely huge, and will make the cost of the military industrial complex look like a bargain.  The cost of flooded lowlands and/or major investments in seawalls around coastal cities alone will exceed the entire cost of the US defense establishment over a century.

    By the way, doubling the price of gas appears to cut usage by around 50% based on behavior in Europe (the combination of less driving and more efficient cars).  However, it took Europe decades to get there; if you added a $4/gallon tax in the US, the short term effect would not be all that great -- and the effect in places like northern Scotland and Sweden (places with low population density and in Sweden's case a high level of affluence) is less pronounced.

    •  Iraq had little to nothing to do with oil. (0+ / 0-)

      Saddam was perfectly happy to sell the world (and the US) oil, and did so in fair quantities under the oil for food program.

      •  Saddam switched to selling oil in Euros in 2000 (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        corvo

        That sealed his fate. Gaddafi started to sell Libyan oil for gold. That sealed his fate. Iran opened it's own oil bourse in 2011 to exchange oil for currencies other than the $US. The US responded with more global banking and oil sanctions.

        If the world went off the petrodollar it would devastate the $US. Petrodollars are like kited checks that, once issued by the US, go around the world from country to country and never come home to be paid. It's an interest free loan of staggering proportions that has been going since 1973.

        China, Russia, India, Iran and many other countries in these regions are now doing more and more currency swaps that do not require the use of the US dollar. This minimizes the amount of reserve US$ they have to hold. Reserve US$'s are also like kited checks. Countries must sell real goods to the US in exchange for this paper that sits in their vaults and gets exchanged from country to country without ever going back to the US.

        •  This stuff again. (0+ / 0-)

          Only the spot market uses dollars.  It's only a percentage of the oil market, most of the business in which doesn't involve dollars.  The oil spot market as we know it has only been around for about 20 years.

          If no one traded oil in dollars tomorrow, it'd barely have any effect on the value of the greenback.

          •  It's obvious you do not know what a Petrodollar is (0+ / 0-)
            The Rise of the Petrodollar System: “Dollars for Oil”
            ...
            But what exactly is the petrodollar system?

            First, let’s define what a petrodollar is.

            A petrodollar is a U.S. dollar that is received by an oil producer in exchange for selling oil and that is then deposited into Western banks.

            Despite the seeming simplicity of this arrangement of "dollars for oil," the petrodollar system is actually highly complex and one with many moving parts. It is this complexity that prevents the petrodollar system from being properly understood by the American public.

            Allow me to provide a very basic overview regarding the history and the mechanics of the petrodollar system.

            It is my belief that once you understand this "dollars for oil"arrangement, you will gain a more accurate understanding of what motivates America’s economic (and especially foreign) policy.

            So, let’s take a closer look…

            The Rise of the Petrodollar System

            The petrodollar system originated in the early 1970s in the wake of the Bretton Woods collapse.
            ...
            In a series of meetings, the United States — represented by then U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger — and the Saudi royal family made a powerful agreement....
            ,,,
            What exactly did the United States want in exchange for their weapons and military protection?

            The Americans laid out their terms. They were simple, and two-fold.

            1.  The Saudis must agree to price all of their oil sales in U.S. dollars only. (In other words, the Saudis were to refuse all other currencies, except the U.S. dollar, as payment for their oil exports.)
            2.  The Saudis would be open to investing their surplus oil proceeds in U.S. debt securities.
            ...
            By 1975, all of the oil-producing nations of OPEC had agreed to price their oil in dollars and to hold their surplus oil proceeds in U.S. government debt securities in exchange for the generous offers by the U.S.
            ...
            The Petrodollar System Encourages Cheap Exports to the United States

            While the U.S./Saudi agreement may have smelled of desperation at a time of decreasing global dollar demand, it can now be considered one of the most brilliant geopolitical and economic strategies in recent political memory.

            Today, virtually all global oil transactions are settled in U.S. dollars. (There are a few exceptions and they will be highlighted in our next article appropriately titled, The Petrodollar Wars.) When a country does not have a surplus of U.S. dollars, it must create a strategy to obtain them in order to buy oil.

          •  You don't understand how the spot and futures (0+ / 0-)

            markets work. These markets are simply a way of determining price and is not relevant to our discussion of petrodollars. US dollars do not have to be actually produced at time of sale. It could just be an entry in an account.

            When the money moves from the account of the buyer to the account of the seller, it must be in US$ for OPEC countries (take note of who the OPEC countries are) by a secret agreement between Saudi Arabia and the US in 1974 (see below). If you are the buyer and you don't have any US$ you need to exchange some of your own currency with someone who is willing to exchange it for US$. In order to not have to exchange your money with each and every purchase, you get US$ and hold them in a special bank account called the reserve.

            Another way around this problem is to do a currency swap between two countries. Each country holds a reserve of the others money so buying and selling between the two countries is easier because you don't have to worry about exchange rates. Many countries are now doing this because they don't need to use US$ (other than as a reserve to maintain exchange rates on the world markets).

            Wiki has a quick description of what a petrodollar is and may explain why you don't understand the term.

            Petrodollar

            A petrodollar is a United States dollar earned by a country through the sale of its petroleum (oil) to another country.[1] The term was coined in 1973 by Georgetown University economics professor, Ibrahim Oweiss, who recognized the need for a term that could describe the dollar received by petroleum exporting countries (OPEC) in exchange for oil.

            The term petrodollar should not be confused with petrocurrency which refers to the actual national currency of each petroleum exporting country.

            Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order
            by William Engdahl
            ...
            No less astonishing than these U.S.-Saudi 'arrangements' to one ignorant of the real history of Anglo-American interests in the Persian Gulf was the exclusive policy decision by the OPEC oil states to accept only U.S. dollars for their oil-not German marks, despite their clear value, not Japanese yen, French francs or even Swiss francs, but only American dollars.

            Dollar oil pricing was initially a practice encouraged after the Second World War by the American oil majors and by their bankers in New York. But when, following the oil crisis of early 1974, leading European governments began to enter into serious negotiations with Arab oil suppliers to secure long-term oil purchase contracts to cover their import needs, to be paid in their own national currency-an eminently sensible move which would have enormously lessened the European impact of the oil shock-something extraordinary occurred within OPEC. Germany or France would have had far less difficulty in securing domestic funds for the payment of its oil imports in Deutschmarks or francs than in buying dollars for the same oil. This makes it all the more curious that OPEC ministers, meeting in 1975, agreed to accept no other currency than the U.S. dollar in payment for deliveries of its oil, not even the British pound.
            ...
            One consequence of the directed recycling of these petrodollars into London and New York was the emergence of American banks as the giants of world banking, paralleling the emergence of their clients, the Seven Sisters oil multinationals, as the giants of world industry. The Anglo-American oil and banking combination so overwhelmed the scale of ordinary enterprise that their power and influence seemed invincible.
            ...

            •  Worthless and unsupported CT. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              nextstep

              This doesn't even pass the laugh test.

              When the money moves from the account of the buyer to the account of the seller, it must be in US$ for OPEC countries (take note of who the OPEC countries are) by a secret agreement between Saudi Arabia and the US in 1974 (see below). If you are the buyer and you don't have any US$ you need to exchange some of your own currency with someone who is willing to exchange it for US$. In order to not have to exchange your money with each and every purchase, you get US$ and hold them in a special bank account called the reserve.
              Pricing doesn't require the transaction actually take place in dollars.  Where's the evidence these secret transactions take place?  Why are these transactions somehow not visible on the exchange markets in spite of all other activity being?  How do countries like Egypt, that barely have enough money of any kind to keep the lights on, manage to exchange the dollars?  How does Venezuela, which has spiraling currency devaluation, manage to do so?
              •  Did you even bother to read any of the links? (0+ / 0-)
                Pricing doesn't require the transaction actually take place in dollars.  Where's the evidence these secret transactions take place?
                None of it is done in secret.
                Why are these transactions somehow not visible on the exchange markets in spite of all other activity being?
                Show me any oil contracts not priced in US$.
                How do countries like Egypt, that barely have enough money of any kind to keep the lights on, manage to exchange the dollars?
                It can't without loans or foreign aid from rich countries flush with US oil dollars. The majority of Egypt's reserves are in US$ like most of the countries in the world.

                If you want to buy oil from Saudi Arabia or the UAE you need to have a fistful of US$. Oil producing countries have little use for the Egyptian pound because Egypt doesn't produce much for export.

                UAE offers Egypt $3 billion support, Saudis $5 billion

                (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia approved $5 billion in aid to Egypt on Tuesday and the United Arab Emirates has offered $3 billion in desperately needed support for the economy after the army ousted the Islamist president last week.

                The Saudi funds comprise a $2 billion central bank deposit, $2 billion in energy products, and $1 billion in cash, the Saudi Finance Minister Ibrahim Alassaf told Reuters.

                Egypt has struggled to pay for imports since the 2011 uprising that pushed Hosni Mubarak out of the presidency drove away tourists and foreign investors, two of its main sources of foreign currency.

                Since then it has run through more than $20 billion in reserves, borrowed billions from abroad and delayed payments to oil companies.
                ...
                DETERIORATING FINANCES

                Foreign reserves fell by $1.1 billion in June to $14.9 billion, representing less than three months of imports, considered by the International Monetary Fund to be the minimum safe cushion. Only about half of the reserves are in the form of cash or in securities that can easily be spent.

                "Public finances have been on a downward track since the revolution, and the pace of deterioration has been accelerating," said Simon Williams of HSBC.

                How does Venezuela, which has spiraling currency devaluation, manage to do so?
                Venezuela to Use Weaker Exchange Rate for Oil Sector

                CARACAS, Venezuela—Venezuela's government moved closer Monday to devaluing its currency by adopting measures to use a weaker exchange rate for its key oil sector, as the country looks to attract investment and jump-start its slowing economy.
                ...
                The changes are part of an incentive "for the sectors that want to bring dollars into the country for increasing production," Mr. Ramirez said.
                ...
                Analysts say the measures would increase the government's local currency income when it converts the dollars it earns through oil sales, but it would also exacerbate inflation, which at around 54% is already one of the highest rates in the world.
                ...
                Venezuela's government loses $12.5 billion a year when the cost of subsidizing gasoline is added to the potential revenue lost by not selling it abroad, Mr. Ramirez said. Domestic consumption has jumped in recent years to around 700,000 barrels of crude a day, partly due to problems with the country's electricity supply and the government's decision to use fossil fuel to generate electricity.

                "Venezuela is the country with the cheapest gasoline in the world, it's not a point of pride…it makes no sense," Mr. Ramirez said.

                With a bottle of water, which goes for 7 bolívares, "you can buy 72 liters of gasoline," Mr. Ramirez said.

                Two thirds of the world's trade is in US dollars and two thirds of the world's reserve currency is in US$.
                Reserve currency

                A reserve currency (or anchor currency) is a currency that is held in significant quantities by governments and institutions as part of their foreign exchange reserves, and that is commonly used in international transactions. Persons who live in a country that issues a reserve currency can purchase imports and borrow across borders more cheaply than persons in other nations because they need not exchange their currency to do so. According to economists such as Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, a former French Minister of Finance and president, a reserve currency gets certain benefits called the exorbitant privilege.[1]

                As of 2013 the United States dollar is the world's reserve currency, and the world's need for dollars has allowed the United States government as well as US Americans to borrow at lower costs, granting them an advantage in excess of $100 billion per year.[2] However, by increasing the value of the dollar, its status as a reserve currency hurts U.S. exporters.[3][4]

                •  Show you any oil contracts? (0+ / 0-)

                  Those are generally confidential documents.

                  Most contracts have a price in dollars, and then specify payment in a bank transfer or guarantee for some quantity in net USD.  That money need never be in USD, it just has to net to the agreed equivalent amount at the time of transfer.

                  Maybe that's why people think these contracts are actually paid in dollars. Some contracts are, but all through Europe and Russia you generally won't find them in dollars.  That's what the Platt benchmarks are in pence, and Lukoil generally reports their sales in Rubles.

                  •  You do not know what you are talking about (0+ / 0-)

                    This is going to be the last time I bother to try and educate you. It is VERY obvious you have not bothered to read any of the links I've supplied.

                    One more time. I've included enough of the articles so you don't have to go to the links.

                    The US dollar is the world's reserve currency. Most of the oil in the world is sold using US dollars held and transferred between banks in different nations. The bank of the purchaser must transfer the funds in US$ so it must show it has US$'s in it's reserve account.

                    If a foreigner wanted to send you money, they must first convert their own currency into US$ BEFORE it is wired. If the bank doesn't have US$ they would have to go to another bank or maybe the black-market on the street corner and exchange their currency for US$ which they can then take back to the bank and have it transferred.

                    The world is beginning to go off the US$ which will not be good for America if it continues at too great a rate. All those dollars moving around the world like a kited check will eventually have to come back to be exchanged for real goods such as services, property and companies if they are no longer needed for global trade in oil and other goods.

                    Try to wrap your head around the following statement from link given below::

                    "And since crude oil became the motivating factor behind our economy... never, ever has crude oil been sold, bought, traded, in any country in the world, without using the American dollar."

                    Shift From U.S. Dollar As World Reserve Currency Underway – What Will This Mean for America?

                    Today, more than 60% of all foreign currency reserves in the world are in U.S. dollar – but there are big changes on the horizon…Some of the biggest economies on earth have been making agreements with each other to move away from using the U.S. dollar in international trade…[and this shift] is going to have massive implications for the U.S. economy.
                    ...
                    #5: China and United Arab Emirates To Use Own Currencies In Bilateral Trade

                    China and the United Arab Emirates have agreed to ditch the U.S. dollar and use their own currencies in oil transactions with each other.

                    The UAE is a fairly small player, but this is definitely a threat to the petrodollar system. What will happen to the petrodollar if other oil producing countries in the Middle East follow suit?

                    #6: India To Use Gold To Buy Oil From Iran

                    Iran has been one of the most aggressive nations when it comes to moving away from the U.S. dollar in international trade. For example, it has been reported that India will begin to use gold to buy oil from Iran.

                    #7: Saudi Arabia Likely to Abandon Use of Petrodollar in Dealings With China

                    Who imports the most oil from Saudi Arabia? It is not the United States, it is China…Saudi Arabia and China have teamed up to construct a massive new oil refinery in Saudi Arabia…so how long is Saudi Arabia going to stick with the petrodollar if China is their most important customer?

                    Dollar no longer primary oil currency as China begins to sell oil using Yuan

                    On Sept. 11, Lindsey Williams, former minister to the global oil companies during the building of the Alaskan pipeline, announced the most significant event to affect the U.S. dollar since its inception as a currency. For the first time since the 1970's, when Henry Kissinger forged a trade agreement with the Royal house of Saud to sell oil using only U.S. dollars, China announced its intention to bypass the dollar for global oil customers and began selling the commodity using their own currency.
                    ...
                    Lindsey Williams: "This has never happened in the history of crude oil. Since crude oil became the motivating force behind our (U.S.) entire economy, and everything in our lives revolves around crude oil. And since crude oil became the motivating factor behind our economy... never, ever has crude oil been sold, bought, traded, in any country in the world, without using the American dollar."

                    "Crude oil is the standard currency of the world. Not the Yen, not the Pound, not the Dollar. More money is transferred around the world in crude oil than in any other product."

                    "On Friday, Sept. 7, Russia announced, that as of today, we will supply China with all of the crude oil that they need, no matter how much they want... there is no limit. And Russia will not sell or trade this crude oil to China using the American dollar."

      •  No, but... (0+ / 0-)

        ...not all of these policies are sane.

        And the $3 trillion was approved on the assumption that it would allow us to steal their oil.  I'm using cost accounting rules -- that's a sunk cost, even if the people who approved it were right wing crackpots (and, in the case of the CEO, I mean president, a right wing crackhead).

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