Shocked and Persuaded

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Separating Fact From Fiction

Supply and Demand in the US?!

Let me get this straight if an energy source is finite and came into being over a geologic scale it is fair to pay less as we deplete it but if it is ubiquitous and markedly easier to access we should pay more? That doesn’t make sense to me I mean don’t we have to pay an order of magnitude more for a Ferrari then we do a Tato Nano? Furthermore don’t we pay equally disparate fees for handcrafted furniture, jewelry, or pastries then we do stuff at Ikea or a Hostess Cupcake? Now that makes sense but the initial example makes absolutely none and needs to be dealt with here in the US ASAP. What makes us so special that we were at the height of the oil bubble paying $3.37 and folks in Britain, Italy, and France between $8.06 and $8.33 a gallon?
gas-taxes-europe-canada
Are we owed this discount and if so why? Everyone knows by now that we consume ~ 25% of the world’s energy. Additionally, each of us is responsible for 15.1-23.6 tons of CO2 per year ranging from a low of 7.2 in the nation’s capital to 123 Tons of CO2 per year in Wyoming, with nearly 20% of this coming from transportation related needs.

us-primary-energy-consumption-20071

It is true that China and India are emitting a lot with rough respective totals of 7,150 and 1,210 Tons of CO2 annually.

However the latter on a per capita basis pale in comparison with 5.5 and 1.1 tons per capita CO2 annually.

gdp-vs-co2

All these trends roughly, although not as well as you might think, with prosperity as is evidence in the graph to the right.

You may say you’re just a self-hating American and I would respond only when I/we deserve it and only when we arrogantly disavow logic and certain norms accepted the world over, because for some systemic and at this point cancerous reason we feel entitled.

Did you know that those statistics I mentioned earlier include a 12% gas tax for us and >55% for the Euros?

co2-per-capita-us2

They get it and the reason they get it is that they have been forced to work with their neighbors, both locally and within the union to offset their many years of insensitive and short-sighted practices. Again some will retort that the US will do the same in good time and I would note that Churchill’s notion that Americans always do the right thing once we tried everything else is not an option at this point.
Any politician worth his or her backbone would have left the price of fuel where it was last summer or maybe even kept raising it! Yeah I know political suicide and boy would I feel really bad for any politician who really told the American people what they really needed to hear. Wait one such politician did his name was Jimmy Carter and the moment was his now famous and probably in his mind infamous “Malaise Speech”. The former president sounded much like a parent would when trying to curb the mindset of a spoiled child. Only in Mr. Carter’s case the dog was too old, had no interest in new tricks, and would bite the hand of anyone who said otherwise. This is an example of a prescient politician who paid the ultimate price for his honesty. Aren’t we always looking for honest politicians? The answer is no we just portend that is what we want when really we desire someone who looks just as good on his ranch as he does on an aircraft carrier, at a barbecue, or on a basketball court. We want a Big Brother who will demand that our needs as a nation are met, whether that comes at the expense of other nations, plants, animals, or fish so long as the price of gas plummets the masses will be pacified. The challenge of reversing this inertia has been gleefully passed from our erstwhile “leader” to Barack Obama, who in my opinion is the smartest man ever to hold this office and truly understands the concerns of this country irrespective of tax bracket. However, the jury is still out as to whether he will have the conviction and long-term vision to shower us with the tough love we as a nation so rightfully deserve. My confidence in this occurring is in the words of Gen. David Patreus “fragile and reversible”. This cynicism could easily be transformed into elation if President Obama conveyed to the American people that the only tool they have to stabilize oil prices is driving less and that they need to come to the realization that the laws of supply and demand and matter conservation dictate that anytime demand exceeds supply the consumer pays the ultimate price, whether we like it or not. This is not so much a matter of national security as it is a question of what if anything we want to leave for future generations. Rome is burning folks and all we’re worried about is how much the arsonist is paying to commit the crime.

Category: Ecological Economics

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