This year’s rapid run-up in crude oil prices might have prompted silly legislation at any time — but the fact that it has happened in an election year has fostered a sort of wrongheadedness renaissance. Lawmakers from both parties are scrambling to dust off failed strategies from years past and tout them as new and improved ways of halting oil’s meteoric rise. None of them will work, of course, nor are they intended to; they serve only to mislead the public into thinking that Washington is looking out for consumers.
Exhibit A in the case against congressional Democrats as wise stewards of the energy economy is which failed to advance Tuesday after it got too few votes to head off a filibuster. It would have imposed a windfall-profits tax on oil companies and allowed the U.S. attorney general to sue OPEC on antitrust grounds, among other things.
Trying to find an economist who thinks a windfall-profits tax is a good idea is like searching for a climatologist who thinks global warming is caused by trees. Such a tax unfairly targets the oil industry, which is already amply taxed and whose profits aren’t far out of line with other U.S. industries when considered as a percentage of sales. It also would discourage oil companies from investing in new supply, which is precisely what happened when Congress imposed a similar tax in 1980. The result might be even higher oil prices.
That’s nothing compared with the lunacy of taking the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to court, though. That would invite retaliation by OPEC members, which could seize the assets of U.S. companies doing business overseas. More likely, there would be a subtler response, such as production slowdowns that would cause oil prices to skyrocket.
Republicans are just as short of good ideas. Their big strategy on oil is to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling. A recent report by the Energy Information Administration showed that there is anywhere between 5.7 billion and 16 billion barrels of “recoverable” oil in the refuge. Depending on where the actual number falls in that range, it could eventually reduce the price of oil by between 41 cents and $1.44 a barrel. Given that oil is trading at about $135 a barrel, that’s not much — and the price reduction wouldn’t occur until around 2026. In fact, it would take at least a decade to extract a drop from the refuge even if drilling were approved tomorrow. The land is more valuable as a pristine home for threatened species.
It won’t be Congress that pops the oil price bubble; conservation, new technologies and market cycles should take care of that. The danger, though, is that lawmakers may make things worse before these forces get a chance to make them better.
The time is upon us. Stand up and fight!
The unthinkable has happened. The price of gasoline has risen above $4.00 per gallon. People in rural parts of America are giving up meat to fuel their cars. They’re driving their tanks dry and then abandoning their vehicles by the side of the road. Gas thieves are running rampant, piercing vehicle tanks and draining the fuel.
The Gas Wars are upon us. You must be prepared to defend your home, family, and fuel supply if you hope to survive. Here’s how!
There’s no better way to fight a marauding gang of gasoline pirates than to form a kill party of your very own. You and your neighbors must organize into a paramilitary unit and form a colony under your own flag and laws. Getting everyone in line might prove a little more difficult than just handing out crossbows at your next book club. So if you find that some of your neighbors feel like they’re willing to wait it out and see if the prices go down, make them feel the threat by setting fire to their Hyundai’s gas tank and maiming one of their young in the explosion, BUT MAKE IT LOOK LIKE A GASOLINE GANG DID IT! Terror and vengeance are key ingredients to building an army.
vehicle tanks efficiently and safely
You’ll need several hundred feet of flexible, plastic tubing and an arsenal of crossbows. Mount the end of a hundred foot strip of tubing to the tail of an arrow. With a good strike on a gas tank, the fuel will drain straight into your tube and you can fill your cans without giving up your hidden position. Demand that all gang members log at least four hours of target practice daily.
The kids are going to have to walk to school from now on, but this is essential. Lay down tire spikes and pressure mines at a random pattern on all roads approaching your immediate perimeter and you can be sure anyone coming to steal your gas is going to get a big surprise.
A pubescent teen with acne can produce enough oil from his or her face to power a lawnmower for three hours. Your 12-to-15 year old is like an untapped well waiting to be claimed. Hide them. Keep them in the basement out of sight of pirates, and make them pierce and drain their blemishes into jam jars.
Repeat after me: there is no such thing as conservation. We’re way beyond that now. Any gasoline surplus you conserve will simply be gasoline waiting to be stolen. Use it up as soon as you acquire it. When they come, there will be nothing left for them to steal, but they’ll be sitting ducks for you to steal their gas. Leave them with nothing to gain and everything to lose, and you will win this war. Remember, THAT GAS IS YOURS.
People use gasoline. The more people in your gang, the more gas they’re going to use. The less people in your gang, the more gas for you. Murder the weaker women and the children too young for immediate combat. Anyone that doesn’t aid the fight is an enemy to your supply.
If you haven’t had time to use up all your gas, and you don’t think you can defeat the encroaching hordes, set your gas on fire. You may have lost the war, but at least you didn’t let them win.