An announcement Thursday that the US and allies would release 60 million barrels of oil from strategic reserves to make up for supply lags out of war-torn Libya was greeted by Wall Street traders with enthusiasm, almost instantly lowering barrel prices by 5% and driving down prices at the pump by an average of 10 cents a gallon.
So does this mean you should gas up the Hummer for a cross country trip to tour Old Spindletop with the kids? Seems like our fearless plutocrats and technocrats hope you will, especially since, when they think about you at all, they apparently see a big “sucker” stamped on your forehead…and mine.
They think we’re stupid. Clueless. That news of an un-strategic release of of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve will somehow makes us all giddy with excitement about an imagined future where oil prices sink and it’s back to an endless summer of road trips and guilt-free throw away plastic grocery bags.
But not so fast.
Oil peaked in 2006, that’s the real story
Anyone with even the most cursory knowledge of energy knows that the world consumes about 87 million barrels a day.
And any first grader past their basic math block can tell you from that, that 60 million barrels of oil won’t even take the world through a single day of oil use. Rather, it will take the world through less than 17 HOURS of oil consumption.
Even in the States, where we consume around 21 million barrels per day, the 30 million that the US is slurping out of the Strategic Reserve to contribute to this energy show would amount to about 30 hours of domestic consumption if all 30 million barrels were coming right here, to our own corner gas stations. Which they’re not.
So what’s the motive behind this particular tragicomedy?
A staggering failure of leadership
Political observers will say it’s Obama posturing for better poll numbers going into the 2012 presidential election cycle.
His critics will call it rudderless leadership designed for short-term political gain among those whose attention spans don’t look much past this week’s price at the pump. Corporate spokespersons will also complain that tapping the reserve will depress their commodity prices, even though they know perfectly well that such an artificial price drop is temporary at best.
Obama’s allies will use the release to somehow spin him as proactive on energy, helping Americans where we need it most, in our wallets. Or for our beach trips. They’ll also try to burnish his international bona fides on the basis of this being the largest strategic oil reserve release ever coordinated among different governments.
So what? Hardly anybody will mention that world peak oil hit in 2006 and that our energy future looks bleak at best. No one will call that the real story behind the story.
All key political players will continue to treat Americans as suckers and idiots in order to keep their polarized narratives going, making energy policy and action on it a proxy fight which, like all political proxy fights today, avoids real truths and clarifies nothing.
Sadly, in spite of any potentially alienating vibes to the energy industry that Obama may have sparked with this move, he’s a president who’s proven himself every bit as beholden to Big Oil, Big Coal and Big Nuclear as any president before him.
- He’s utterly failed to use the bully pulpit to advance a meaningful agenda on energy, in spite of his claims to support clean energy alternatives.
- His backing of rail has been paltry, even feckless.
- He can’t even put up promised solar panels on the White House.
And just as President Bush urged Americans go go shopping after 9/11, in today’s mounting energy crisis Obama has urged no sacrifices, adjustments, or conservation, even as energy supply weakens and costs rise overall.
The Right is no better with its top-down class war against middle- and working-class Americans, heisting our tax payments and then our collective wealth to Wall Street crooks and corporate coffers via legislative ju jitsu. On energy, they keep hyping deepwater oil as if last year’s Gulf disaster was just a bad day at the office. They still want us to buy into tar sands, oil shale and, of course, nuclear for all eternity, Fukushima — and future generations — be damned. Their marching orders come straight from the big money, to which they’ve become slavish devotees.
And why should any political puppet masters care?
Handouts to the oil industry just keep coming, which in turn keeps campaign coffers Left and Right stuffed to the brim with Benjamins. And round and round it goes.
Talking about or deploying jobs aimed at energy conservation appears to be an American no-no. “We’ll burn through all the damn stuff first, then deal with it later,” seems to be the national attitude. It’s certainly the example set by leadership.
In short, there’s no plan to address energy among America’s ruling class and political elite.
Wage slaves unite — General Strike!
In the end I’ve become more and more convinced that America as a whole is on an inevitable downward spiral due to the utter un-seriousness of our political leaders and the American voter’s willingness to put up with them, preferring to debate whether Michelle Bachmann is “viable” and buying into the news media’s distractions with Anthony Weiner’s bulge.
What any of us may do as individuals, or communities, may be different. Perhaps we’re on an upward spiral in our local communities. But I think we’d get there a whole helluva lot faster if we really initiated political action, taking a page from Egypt’s playbook and giving these plutocratic stage managers a definitive heave-ho.
General Strike? Revolution? Both sound a whole lot better than following the posturing machinations of the stock market as it reels in mock delight over Obama’s pandering — and insultingly paltry — energy moves. Or voting to give any of these shysters another crack at leading the nation.
–Lindsay Curren, Transition Voice