Thursday, March 22, 2012

Politics and Oil. Why We Pay So Much At the Pump

Remember Walt Kelly, the creator of the comic strip Pogo? 
Resolve then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tinny blast on tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us. (1953)

Gas Prices are high?

1) Aside from countries that are mega oil producers like Venezuela where the price is kept ridiculously low so that corrupt politicians and populist dictators will get the vote/support of the masses, the US still pays some of the lowest gasoline prices in the developed world.

2) The US consumes more oil per capita than any other nation.  Really, where else on the planet do you see the general populace use huge V-8s and 10s as commuting vehicles, not take public transport, refuse to walk or ride a bike and live so far from where they work? How many folks here in AK leave their car running when they go into a store to shop? Why are there still tax breaks for companies that buy gas-guzzlers? Why do we give tax breaks to those with huge houses and the resulting excess fuel consumption? Where else does recreation mean fill the tank of my (fill in the blank)?  We get charged so much because we will pay it.  Somehow we Americans have developed this sense of entitlement.  We're suppose to have it all - but no one anywhere else on the planet is allowed to participate in such wanton waste. That fantasy is over. Forever. 

I saw a lady with a "Don't Tread on Me" decal on the largest Suburban I've ever seen, pumping gas at Fred Meyers not too long ago. Maybe that rig got 6 MPG. Maybe. She had a little baby in the car seat. No one else was with her.  It was a classic "What's Wrong With America?" moment. Don't let the feds mess with me was her decal's message, yet she griped that the gov't wasn't doing anything about the high price of gas as she was wasting gas.  WTF?!?

3)We elect politicians who are quick to go to war - especially in the middle east. So, exactly why did we invade Iraq? Raise your hand if you think it's a good idea for the US or Israel to bomb Iran. 

4) The US is becoming less and less a factor on the global market.  How fast are the Chinese and Indian economies growing?  How many cars did they have 20 years ago? 

5) Capitalism is all about making money.  Those who are making a fortune are just doing what the market lets them do. Of course, by not regulating speculation, by letting oil companies dictate our foreign policy, by cutting the companies every tax break possible and by feeding our addictions as if the fantasy could go on forever, we game the system to our own disadvantage.

But, somehow giving the oil companies in AK $2 billion/year kickbacks with absolutely no commitment for anything is our duty?  OK, raise your hand other hand if you voted for Sean Parnell, Tom Wagoner, Mike Chenault, or Kurt Olsen because that is what they are all about.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Three Oil Stooges of the Kenai

I think it might be cheaper if we sent all of the legislatures out of state during the short 90 day session.

Especially the 3 that represent the north central Kenai Peninsula. The more they are away, the less damage they will do. 

Tom is in DC now, preaching to the Drill, Baby Drill crowd.  No new converts.

The few hundred thousand we spend sending these guys to far away places, means the fewer corporate giveaways these guys love to create. The republicans also spend like crazy too - the Port of Anchorage, the valley prison, the Knik Arm bridge and the Susitna dam are just a few of the projects with costs projected (or already spent) in the billions.  Go figure, there had have been cost over-runs and no oversight. How is this a good business for Alaska?  

Once again, there's a showdown over ACES. The senate, with a coalition of several old-school republicans and most all of the democrats, are reluctant to bend over for the bill the governor and house wants - the one that will give $2 Billion/year back to the oil companies with no promise of production. Well, aside from a vague pledge to invest $5 billion if we gave them $10 billion. Trying to make a wise decision, the senate is relying on figures from the AK Dep't of Revenue and by recommendations of independent oil tax specialists.

Read this expose about oil tax myths by the Ak Dispatch Here for Part 1 and here for Part 2.

Tom Wagoner has been sitting the fence - he didn't vote in favor of the Senate's proposal, which would have modestly decreased the profit tax in exchange for minimal rates if prices ever go down. But he's also on record saying he wouldn't vote for a 2 billion dollar giveaway that didn't come with significant development promises by the major players.

Mike and Kurt are tools of the industry of course.  Despite the sane and objective evidence that the current tax structure is not really a problem, they want to gift the industry.

Seriously, I think they should go to Nigeria and see what the reality of what they want really looks like: corruption, pollution and exploitation.

90 days might be the right amount of time. I'm sure there's a well-guarded golf course there.

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