Home > economics, political-economy, politics, shorter work time > The political-economy of your pain at the pump

The political-economy of your pain at the pump

Michael T. Ware has written an extensive piece on oil, the war in Iraq, and the evolving role of the U.S. military. We quote from it below:

…[T]he U.S. military has come to serve as a global oil protection service, guarding pipelines, refineries, and loading facilities in the Middle East and elsewhere. According to one estimate, provided by the conservative National Defense Council Foundation, the “protection” of Persian Gulf oil alone costs the U.S. Treasury $138 billion per year — up from $49 billion just before the invasion of Iraq.

For Democrats and Republicans alike, spending such sums to protect foreign oil supplies is now accepted as common wisdom, not worthy of serious discussion or debate. A typical example of this attitude can be found in an “Independent Task Force Report” on the “National Security Consequences of U.S. Oil Dependency” released by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in October 2006. Chaired by former Secretary of Defense James R. Schlesinger and former CIA Director John Deutch, the CFR report concluded that the U.S. military must continue to serve as a global oil protection service for the foreseeable future. “At least for the next two decades, the Persian Gulf will be vital to U.S. interests in reliable oil supplies,” it noted. Accordingly, “the United States should expect and support a strong military posture that permits suitably rapid deployment to the region, if necessary.” Similarly, the report adds, “U.S. naval protection of the sea-lanes that transport oil is of paramount importance.” Challenging the Militarization of U.S. Energy Policy, By Michael T. Klare

This is a story you might want to read, if you have the time.

If you’re voting for John McCain, you can safely ignore this article, since you seem to be immune to logic and reason.

But, if you are voting for the Barack Obama and Democratic Party in the fall, and you want “national health care,” and, “investment in our infrastructure and education,” and all the political boilerplate of that party’s platform, and, believe the only way to get it is by raising someone taxes – let’s be honest, you want to soak the rich, soak the bastards until they howl in pain – then you definitely want to read this article.

Why?

Because this article begins to open up a discussion on one of the greatest betrayals in history: when Washington deliberately set a course to enlarge itself at your expense.

Let us, for a minute, suppose you have a product you would like to offer for sale – a barrel of oil. The oil starts deep in the bowels of the earth, so you have to get it out. This requires so many man hours of work.

Now you have to transport the barrel to a refinery. And, this takes so many man hours.

Then the oil is processed – again, taking some amount of time.

Then, the finished product – gasoline – has to be transported to filling station. Work, again.

Finally, you sell the product – to yourself.

That is right: Yourself. You are not only the person who pulls it out of the ground, you are also the customer.

Now, in real life, you probably would only perform one of these steps – extraction, transportation, refining, delivery, retail sales, but, a job is a job – they are all interchangeable, and more or less pay a good wage, so what do you care – it is work. And, you can’t survive without a job – right?

So, you can be anywhere along this chain of actions.

On the other hand, no matter where you are in this chain of related jobs, you need gasoline for your automobile – so, you are always the customer, no matter your particular job, and, even if you performed all the jobs successively.

Of course, this is not all it take to put a gallon of gas in your fuel tank: you need medical care when you are sick; education for yourself and your kids; an income when you retire; etc. This has to be covered in the price of each gallon you pump out of the ground, and into your Lincoln Navigator.

And, then, of course, there are those shareholders – who are too delicate to have real jobs, but still need a yacht; admen to convince us all to fight Global Warming by switching to British Petroleum; secretaries, marketing pros, sales guys and gals (usually named Bob – even the gals, honest!); IT guys (typically hating their life, job, and everyone around them); and, lawyers – lots of lawyers. I mean a really large amount of lawyers – stacked like cordwood in some darkened, musty conference room over in the Cottonwood Building on the corporate headquarters campus in Houston.

These just a few of the jobs we might refer to as overhead: cost which enter into the price of oil, unrelated to the actual costs associated with its actual extraction, transportation, refining, delivery, and, retail sales.

But there is still more – at least 189 billion dollars more for what Ware calls “protection services…guarding pipelines, refineries, and loading facilities in the Middle East and elsewhere.” And, this, for just the Persian Gulf alone!

This too is overhead – costs not associated with extraction, transportation, refining, delivery, and, retail sales of the gasoline you use, but which, nevertheless, ends up adding to the price of every gallon of gasoline.

A cost which has more than tripled since the Moron and his neocon crew sent your neighbor’s kid to kill 1,200,000 people in Iraq who never did a damn thing to anyone you or I know.

And, that, my friends, is real pain at the pump.

But, since such overhead costs like government “protection services” are not discrete, and leach into the prices of all goods eventually – which is why the Federal Reserve is nervously waiting for rising energy costs to show up in core inflation numbers – we have to assume the price of a gallon of gas also reflects not just the cost of US military operations in the Persian Gulf, but all US military operations everywhere – 49 percent of all federal discretionay spending in 2003, and a whopping, “total American defense spending of about $750 billion for fiscal year 2008 (which began Oct. 1) … [and which] exceeds the defense spending of all other nations in the world – combined.” Christian Science Monitor, “U.S. defense outlays keep growing and growing,” December 10, 2007

750 Billion dollars … $750,000,000,000.00

Still wonder why you are feeling such pain at the pump?

Still feel the Democrats need to raise taxes to fund all their boilerplate platform promises?

Still think we should be ready to turn even more of this economy, and, your wallet, over to Washington?

This much is clear: If they are prepared to cut the military budget gasoline prices will fall, and, the Democrats will have every dime they need to fund all their promises right now, while aggressively rolling back taxes across the board for every working family struggling on two incomes, as well as those sliding into poverty on one.

And, I do mean aggressively roll back taxes – 20 percent or more!

MEMO TO BARACK: Now, that is change we can believe in.

Oh yeah, and you probably want to reduce what is commonly referred to as, “America’s Dependence on Foreign Oil.

Well, we have an idea about this as well: 8,314,530 barrels of oil each day!

That’s right 8.3 million barrels of oil each day.

That is what we can save by doing one simple little thing – something which doesn’t involve costly upgrades to America’s automobile fleets, fancy cap and trade tax policies, investment in a entire range of new technologies, or, everyone running out and buying a Prius.

Reduce the work week from 40 hours to 32 hours, and from five days to four days. According to an article posted by Aaron Newton:

The idea of a shorter work week is not a new one to anyone old enough to have lived through the energy shocks of the 1970’s. It should be fairly obvious to anyone interested in conserving oil that reducing the number of daily commutes per week would reduce the overall demand for oil. There are about 133 million workers in America. Around 80% of them get to work by driving alone in a car. The average commute covers about 16 miles each way. So let’s stop and do some math:

133,000,000 workers X 80% who drive alone = 106,400,000 single driver commuter cars each day.

106,400,000 X 32 miles round trip = 3,404,800,000 miles driven to work each day

3,404,800,000 / 21 mpg (average fuel efficiency) = 162,133,333 gallons of gasoline each day

Each barrel of crude oil produces, on average, 19.5 gallons of gas. (It is important to note that other products like kerosene and asphalt are produced from that same barrel)

162,133,333 / 19.5 = 8,314,530 barrels of oil each day.

What this shows is the impact a 4 day work week could have on crude oil imports. I’m talking about a 40% reduction in the amount of oil we need Monday through Friday simply by rearranging our work week. No wonder this idea was utilized in the 70’s.

Now, the Energy Information Agency, at the Department of Energy, reports that for the month of April 2008 the United States and its territories imported a grand total of 9.921 million barrels of oil per day.

Simple math here indicates the reduction of even one work day per week would virtually eliminate oil imports, and, dependence on foreign oil sources.

Barack, can YOU smell what I’m cooking, here?

Energy independence – on day one!

Now, you have to understand that total world production of oil was only 84 million barrels per day in 2005, so we are talking about a 10 percent reduction of oil consumption globally by this one act alone.

Thnk about what that would do to oil prices world wide.

Hey, Barack: Yes, We Can! eliminate United States dependence on foreign oil and drastically reduce the price of gasoline simply by reducing the work week, and, cutting the Defense budget

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  1. June 14, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    Very informative, is there an
    alternative to gas car
    water powered car

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