Thursday, June 15, 2006

Motivation to End Oil Dependency

Hanson stating the obvious. The US oil dependency does more to support our enemies than anything else.

Here in the U.S., Americans grew freer and richer than at any time in their history. In contrast, Europe's creeping democratic socialism left much of the continent with low economic growth, high unemployment, a demographic crisis, and a growing cultural pessimism. In short, there was global proof that the more individual freedom and capitalism, the more the good life followed.

Why, then, are socialists such as Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Evo Morales in Bolivia now expanding an anti-capitalist bloc in Latin America - nationalizing companies, jailing dissidents, and whipping up the cult of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro from Peru to Mexico? Why here at home, when the stock market is near all-time highs, the unemployment rate low, and home ownership at record levels, with interest rates and inflation both in check, do the American people express little confidence in their economy and President Bush's leadership?
Fortunately the Chavez factor has been seeing less support from his own neighbors. The Andean trade alliance has decided to work cooperatively with the US on trade which has essentially told Chavez to go to hell.
Bolivia's Evo Morales, Ecuador's Alfredo Palacio, Colombia's Alvaro Uribe and Peru's Alejandro Toledo signed an accord pledging to respect the rights of individual nations in the bloc to negotiate free-trade agreements with the United States.

The leaders also agreed to initiate regional free-trade talks with the European Union by July 20.

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, a fierce critic of U.S.-backed trade liberalization, announced in April that he was abandoning the Andean bloc, saying it had been ''fatally wounded'' when Colombia and Peru signed individual trade pacts with Washington. Those deals have yet to be ratified by those nations' legislatures.

At least the benefits of trade with the US are giving Chavez's neighbors some independence from his rather shrill complaints against the US.

Back to Hanson.
And huge petroleum profits don't just empower dictators, subsidize nuclear proliferation, and curtail economic reform. They also have pernicious psychological effects. Americans hit with gasoline price hikes of nearly a dollar a gallon have fallen to despairing over our economy. Try telling furious motorists that the extra cost for most drivers amounts only to about $500-700 per year - a pittance compared to sky-high housing prices that leap tens of thousands of dollars annually. No matter: people see the numbers on the gas pump, and less cash in their wallets, and figure the U.S. is teetering on the brink.
Sadly the US public is too easy to distract with simple problems. Gas prices hit $3 a gallon and the world is coming to an end. Point out the inconvenient point that the price is still among the lowest in the world and could be lower if the Gasahol lobby could be put to rest, and they don't get it. Imagine if these same people had to pay $6 a gallon, the suicide rate would just leap.
Next time we whine that we cannot drill in the Arctic or off our coasts, that nuclear power is too dangerous, that government-encouraged conservation violates free enterprise, or that gasification from coal and shale is too costly, we should remember: there are insidious - and dangerous - costs in today's oil trade too.
The resources are there, but we can't go into ANWR because it may have an effect on an ecosystem that no one uses or goes into, can't drill off of California or Florida since it may interrupt someone's view or the environment. (Though the environment complaint is foolish with the legal requirements for drilling and the present technology. But hey, it's okay to drill off of Mississippi or Louisiana, which is completely different how?) And don't get me started on wind farms. Oh wait, I'll do that next.

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