Daily Archives: February 5, 2004

The Real Price of Gas

An article in the WSJ on Tuesday (no link because it’s subscription-only), quotes Milton Copulos, a Reagan energy consultant and these days President of a conservative think-tank called the National Defense Council Foundation (Newt Gingrich is an “advisor”), on what the gasoline we put in our cars really costs.

“We’ve been going round in circles for decades,” says Milton Copulos…. Mr. Copulos has assessed hidden economic and military costs of imported oil. If military spending directly related to protecting oil supplies and other costs were reflected at the pump, he figures, gasoline would cost $5.28 a gallon in the U.S. “We are always looking for a quick fix, but the fundamental problem is we have to wean ourselves off oil,” he contends.Unless this happens, Saudi Arabia will remain the pivot of U.S. energy security. It now creaks under political and other pressures, but Washington has to keep it turning. Mr. Bush recently named James C. Oberwetter, a Texas oil lobbyist and former head of the American Petroleum Institute, as ambassador to the kingdom.

IOW, in order to keep the actual price of our gasoline under $2, we–the taxpayers–subsidize the the oil industry to the tune of $3.50 for every single gallon sold. We are paying $$$BILLIONS$$$ every year to Shell, Exxon, Chevron and all the other domestic oil companies in order to maintain a fictional price at the pumps and their profit-margins. And we don’t even know if Mr Copulos was including the money being spent in Iraq.

Charles Palson of FITE, who sent me this article, writes in his email:

The current gas pump price of gasoline is a fraud, and letting the American public know what the real cost [is]- $5.28/gallon – could have very important consequences.The tax money we pay the government subsidizes the oil companies so they can sell at a cheaper and very unrealistic price. The real price is almost $4 above the present price. The subsidies come in the form of money spent to maintain political stability in oil producing regions of the 3rd world. Political scientists know the nearly infallible forumula of oil + poverty = political instability. In other words, we as a country are stuck shoveling lots of taxpayer money into these countries to make it safe for Big Oil and unsafe for our health and national security. That’s a gigantic subsidy that covers up the real price of gasoline – $5.28/gallon.

Phaedrus, in a new post at No Fear of Freedom titled “Why Did We Go To War With Iraq?”, explains why he keeps coming back to the oil.

Been askin’ myself that question fer a long time now. WMDs were the official reason, but that one’s lookin’ awfully unlikely. To free the Iraqi people? Gimme a break. Peddle that one to the idealistic sob sisters and the suckers (Are ya listenin’, Tommy Friedman?). To fight terrorism? There were a lot better ways to use our resources against terrorism. There’s the Dean theory, that it has sumpin’ to do with Bush and his daddy, but as little as I think of Bush, even I can’t take that seriously.I keep comin’ back ta oil. “Oh,” say the dingers, “that’s stupid. This war cost us more than we’ll ever make from Iraqi oil.” Mebbe. Mebbe not. But who said anything about Iraqi oil?

First, this could well be a war to control the Middle East, in which case we’re talking about, at least, virtual control of the lion’s share of exportable oil in the world.

Second, Iraq has the second largest proven oil reserves in the world. If we control them, we totally undercut OPEC.

And third, how much will oil be worth? World oil production is going to peak relatively soon, if it hasn’t already. The US estimates the peak will come by 2037. That’s probably wildly optimistic. It might be more like 2010, it might have already happened. No one knows for sure, but even 2037 isn’t that far off. It’ll take a couple of years before it’s recognized. Once that happens, world oil prices will start to go up, and they’ll continue to go up and up until we find a cheaper alternative.

Count Iraq and the true price is probably well over $5 and may be more than $6/gal (which is about what the rest of the world pays). As Chuck points out, “It also means that the $2.00/gallon (gasoline equivalent) of the windmill/hydrogen alternative…is so cheap, clean and environmentally friendly, that this off the shelf technology should probably be pushed” instead of sloughed off with token funding while the oil companies receive massive taxpayer support to make sure we stay glued to the oil tit and economic slaves to their profits.

The technology, hydrogen technology in particular, is almost there. We have cheap, clean alternatives to the oil mess right around the corner but the oil-industry-controlled Bush Admin isn’t interested. It prefers wars that will allow oil company profits to continue flowing regardless of the effect on our society and our economy.

Well, you gotta have priorities, I guess.

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CoxNews: Mind-Changing in Georgia

After a week of what the AJC called “withering criticism”, including some from former President Jimmy Carter, Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox has changed her mind.

State Schools Superintendent Kathy Cox announced Thursday she will recommend that the word evolution be retained in Georgia’s proposed curriculum for middle and high school science.”I made the decision to remove the word evolution from the draft of the proposed biology curriculum in an effort to avoid controversy that would prevent people from reading the substance of the document itself,” Cox said in a statement. “Instead, a greater controversy ensued.”

Cox had proposed the phrase “biological changes over time,” a term that scientists derided as meaningless, be used instead.

“I am here to tell you that I misjudged the situation and I want to apologize for that. I want you to know today that I will recommend to the teacher teams that the word ‘evolution’ be put back in the curriculum,” she said.

Well, that’s nice. But it isn’t over yet. Apart from the troubling policy of vetting a curriculum by polling public opinion, Cox said nothing about restoring the other little change:

Cox made no statement on her decision to not include in the biology proposal several national standards for evolution instruction that many scientists say are critical for students to understand it. Those standards, culled from the American Association for the Advancement of Science benchmarks, include the explanation for natural selection and statements about the origins of life on Earth such as “life on Earth is thought to have begun as simple, one-celled organisms about 4 billion years ago.”

Which leads one to wonder what her next step will be. One scientist put it succinctly:

“I am glad she came to her senses,” said Jung Choi, associate professor of biology at Georgia Tech Thursday morning.”I expected she would. What I am concerned about is whether she will go on the other side and include creation science and intelligent design [in the curriculum], the so-called alternative theories that she has mentioned before.”

Choi said it is essential students study evolution before reaching college.

“I think it is critical because biology does not really make sense without evolution. It is the very first topic that we cover in freshman biology. There’s too many students that come to Georgia Tech that have not studied evolution before.” (emphasis added)

Sort of like trying to study astronomy when you’ve been told all your life that the sun revolves around the earth.

Cox is going to reconvene the curriculum panels sometime in the next month, and sometime after that, when the dust has died down and everyone has forgotten this little brouhaha, the curriculum will be chosen. Will GED’s Pruitt (who has largely escaped notice by the press for his role in all this) wander down and “order” the panels to inject creationism as an “alternative theory” as he “ordered” them to remove the words “evolution” and “long”? Or will Pruitt and Cox back off entirely and put the study of evolution and the true age of the earth back into the curriculum?

Stay tuned.