Stopping All Progress
If you are a Texas petrogarch who has inherited a bunch of oil wells, production contracts, and, oh yes, a mansion, from your daddy, large investments in the Congress to paralyze any possible advances in modernizing or rationalizing the energy industry are quite understandable. Interestingly, taking this approach places you -- quietly perhaps -- in the chair next to the Wahabist King of Muslim Saudi Arabia.
So much for your good old Texan spiritual piety.
However, just as long as you remain the Bible Study somewhere near Dallas, all the other righteous men sitting in the circle of bliss will, most likely, have a similar outlook. Add a few drawling Southerners in the Congress and a well fed clutch of futures commodities speculators and we have what we have now.
A hostage situation.
And, all this blather is not just a hostage situation, it's a well heeled extortion scheme replete with every commercial media -- including otherwise occasionally credible participants such as PBS -- scrambling to repeat, as often as possible, every kind of carefully manufactured lie about the utter, stark raving mad possibilities of doing anything even slightly different than what we are doing now.
King Saud, seldom much of a news maker, consolidated the attitude with remarkable clarity in one of his most recent declarations. His agent was in the midst of OPEC representatives who were considering whether or not to increase oil production. The King's position?
It's nice to have oil prices high because we get even more revenue, however, we don't want them too high because it will cause the development of petroleum alternatives and put us out of business.
OPEC wasn't any more interested in the King's wisdom than they were concerned about wrecking the developed world's economies. The point here is that the Texas petrogarch and the Saudi King share this self-protective outlook. Further, both the little petrogarchs and the King, along with the grisly clutch of other players in the scheme, are quite willing to pay the US Congress whatever it takes to make sure they continue to control the oil spigot and the gas pump prices.
Obsfucations, Tangled Statistics and Outright Lies
It's important to remember that all of this hanky panky is not occurring in the wide open fields of a free economy. In fact, the price of oil, generally, has almost no connection to its intrinsic value, its utility or any remaining ghostly presence of the traditional (and now, practically imaginary) supply and demand economic price carburator.
Instead, a media campaign has conveniently replaced all the historically valid mechanisms for price determination -- along with public ideas about the prospect of developing alternatives -- especially the impossible obstacles the brave industry is facing with each one.
The advent of cars such as the hybrid Prius literally drove a splintered wooden stake through the hearts of these oil producers, oil sellers and oil pricers. But, even this brave new technology amounted to little more than holding a flickering candle to the tip of the petroleum scheme's iceberg.
The "facts," repeated often enough on the broadcast airwaves to strangle a third grader, are sickeningly familiar to Americans now.
"Fact one:" Gasoline prices would go down if more domestic drilling were to be allowed by the over regulating socialists in the Obama administration.
"Fact two:" Alternative energy sources -- notably solar and wind energy -- are clever trinkets which can never serve as a serious national energy source.
"Fact three:" The charlatans who have "tricked" huge research money out of the Green Energy coffers of the stimulus package will never develop anything close to a scale solution to the problem.
"Fact four:" Any sort of credible energy solution remains decades away, and it is actually too early to start experimenting with any of the stuff currently available.
"Fact five:" If the US is ever going to have any workable alternative to its current fossil fuel addiction, the existing energy companies will be the ones with the commercial expertise to finally create it.
"Fact six:" The Arabs and the crusty petrogarch's are not the only ones getting sickeningly rich from the high prices. If you have a 401K or mutual fund stocks, petroleum profits help support the returns you are receiving on your investment. (Oooops.)
"Fact seven:" Any kind of a possible energy policy which even so much as implies the slightest accountability on the industry itself is just the next Obama attempt to nationalize another vital part of the economy.
"Fact Eight:" All possible technological developments are so shaky and far off and current economic conditions are so grave that we cannot possibly even think about doing anything at all about CO2 saturation and climate change.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Just stand there at the pump and keep paying whatever is asked.
It would be something of a feather in the hat of MeanMesa if, at this depressing point, a credible, comprehensive solution could be announced. Sorry. That kind of miracle is "above MeanMesa's pay grade."
Wait. "Beyond MeanMesa's pay grade?"
In terms of technology, no question. In terms of management, maybe not. This little blog refuses to accept the premise that the petrogarch/media induced paralysis is so implacable that absolutely no possible constructive course of action can be reasonably undertaken at the moment. Nonsense.
Here's the plan.
Someone important, probably the President himself, instructs the Nobel Prize winning Secretary of Energy, Mr. Chu, to put together a detailed plan, a step by step outline, of absolutely everything that we as a nation could possibly do to solve the energy and climate crisis. Further, the eight "facts"
These do not represent anything more than a crippling, gaseous public relations campaign, a very, very dirty data set to adopt as a beginning. Biden would be a good choice to "chat it up" with the petrograch owned Congress with the mission of "softening up" the inevitable counter attacks.
The plan is going to list -- and, list in detail -- what action can be taken to solve the problem.
MeanMesa sees the challenge, at least at the outset, to be two huge collections of obstacles. Electrical generation is one, and transport energy is the other. In the end, we will see that transport energy will gradually become electrical energy, consolidating the two.
Electrical and Transport Energy
The President has already announced that the country will have to have both renewable generation capacity and a modernized energy distribution capacity to actually use the generation capacity. So, let's get busy.
How many windmills and solar panels will it take? How can we use the government to pay for them? Where will we have to put them? Who owns the land that we will need? How much will it cost to buy the equipment? How much will it cost to buy the land?
What is the "end game" -- that is, what will the country look like after we have solved the energy crisis? How do we get the government to prioritize energy conservation in every house and building the country? How much does that cost? How do we begin? How will we know when we are finished?
What sources of energy have we decided to be using in 2015, 2020? (We should be finished by then. Yes, finished.)
How will we convert all the cars and trucks to hybrid or electrical drive systems? How much will it cost? How long will it take? How efficient can we get? What sources and distribution systems will we need to build? When will we have to have them complete?
What do we need to do to the railroads and road systems? When do we start? How much will it cost? How efficient will it be? What roads and tracks will we begin to modify immediately? What is the schedule to complete all of this work? How much will each project cost? How will the government get this done?
There are plenty more questions where these came from -- each one will be framed as a fiscal impossibility as we go along. We will be able to hear the Southern drawl of the "old America" bellowing all the way through this process. We will hear all the "facts" about why it didn't work after we have finished.
Raise your hand if you want to stay where we are.
We can call this a "stimulus" if we absolutely have to, and, there will plenty of legislative "firepower" demanding that we do exactly that. Screw them. It's been so long since the United States flexed its problem solving muscles that most Americans believe it is no longer possible for the nation to solve any problem, at all regardless of the size or complexity of it.
The bad guys have done their work well. It has always served to their advantage to make us feel hopeless.
This program can break that spell. It won't be easy, but the President has demonstrated over and over that he doesn't intend to shy away from what may have been presented as overwhelming, intractable difficulties. Further, Obama will not be walking into this as a blindfolded Pollyanna waiting for a ride to the prom.
That's not his style.
Emboldened by his re-election and, most likely, equipped with a Congress interested in something besides four more anti-abortion bills, this plan can actually unfold into exactly the kind of national success that will break the suffocating malaise the GOPCons have spent so much cash promoting.
So, President Obama, although MeanMesa realizes that you're rather busy fighting the Bush Wars, saving Medicare, balancing the budget and fighting off the bigots who call themselves conservatives, put the plan together. At least, give the order to make the plan.
Then you'll be ready to announce the path forward in December of 2012.