Thursday, September 13, 2007

Nasty Oil Companies & Their Highly Desirable Product

I'm such a liberal arts type that I've never come near an economics course, let alone statistics (my hair hurts just contemplating either one) but I'm equipped w/ as much common sense as the next person, or the next two people if one of them happens to be the self-described "world's tallest female econoblogger." And from her Atlantic blog today:

I bet that will teach those nasty oil companies that there are penalties for producing a highly desireable [sic] product!
Is it any wonder that I'm not affiliated with either party?
It seems to me that we have to deal w/ a basic assumption here. Is oil a "highly desirable product?" It's an unfortunately necessary product, especially in these United States, given the hideous distances many of us must drive (& the fact that few alternatives to burning gasoline are available) to assure ourselves the ability to purchase products & services we really desire. But desirable?

First & foremost, the stuff is burned to generate energy. The burning produces unburned particles that pollute our atmosphere, & our fragile little lungs, and causes asthma, lung cancer, respiratory problems & the like. The unburnt particles do make more colorful sunsets, but you can imagine anyone suffering from eye, nose, throat or lung problems would settle for duller sunsets & less suffering/more oxygen reaching their lungs. It seems to me, anyway.

Secondly, although the United States itself doesn't get a large portion of its oil from the Middle East, we & especially our European & Japanese friends & allies get enough of it from there that we are deeply involved in the politics & security of the region. And the insecurity of the region, from the overthrow of Mossadegh in Iran in 1953 (he dared to threaten to nationalize Iran's oil, and toss the British & American oil cos. out) to current adventures in imperialism you may see on the news.

Or you may have seen something on the news just a couple of days ago, concerning an event of six years ago that had a lot to do w/ that "highly desirable product."

Many libertarians of an extreme stripe believe that the only legitimate function of gov't. is defense against foreign enemies. Think of the "peace dividend" we would have had (that might mean lower taxes, libs) if we hadn't been addicted to "desirable" oil, & had been able to reduce our military posture following the break-up of the Soviet Union, rather than having to keep the Persian Gulf safe for oil profits & ungrateful Europeans. And think of the military/industrial/national security complex that Big Oil & its desirable product have lead us into.

As to the specifics of Ms. McArdle's item, her commentators have a good back & forth going; take from it what you will. I'm dealing w/ the larger aspects here. And my hair is already beginning to feel a little queasy.

Line Count:
Megan McA.: 9
What she quoted: 17

Video Bonus: What we might do w/ windfall profits. And the answer from the glibertarians.


brad said...

I like the line count feature muchly. I've no particular training in economics either, but I believe fishbone mcgonigle mentioned some edumacating in the field, so when s/he joins they can take on that aspect of the mockery. I don't imagine there'll be any lack of material for us all to work with.

M. Bouffant said...

Oh, yeah, may be my greatest contribution. Not even I have the patience to do a word count, but it gets the lazy idea across. See how your comment is a bit overlapped? Or is it just on my devil-box? Whatever.

brad said...

Hmm. Isn't doing anything funky for me. Anyone else having issues?

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