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« Untitled | Main | Rhino Times »

Sep 20, 2006


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Jim Caserta

We seem to find the same things interesting.


Even without the tariff, it might not make any difference.

Ethanol may still be more expensive for the consumer, even at the $80/barrel level for oil. If the price of oil drops as it is now doing(some think it may do so permanently), the situation is even more skewed.

There's more obstacles ethanol needs to overcome: lack of infrastructure, problems with vehicle operation, and lack of investment incentive to restify the problems.


Hmm....make that "rectify".



whew...that was close....you came so close to being the poster-boy/man for a republican promotion.

Which administration was it that chose to not tax imported crude?

Ed Cone

"Permanently" is a long time, especially when discussing a finite resource with supply concentrated in unfriendly or uncertain regions...

And of course there are factors beyond price that make moving away from oil desirable.

Samuel Spagnola

When did our energy policy become stupid?

Ed Cone

I'm tempted to quote Hemingway, "slowly, then all at once"...we are actors in a complex and dynamic world, so it's not just what we do but what we do in relation to what others are doing.

Hindsight makes things clearer. Our policy since FDR has been military force to protect oil flow, seemed like a good idea at the time, huh? You could argue that we were stupid not to get serious about weaning ourselves from oil in the '70s...Bush I in his speedboat and Cheney's 'conservation as a personal virtue' seem pretty idiotic now...

Powerful interests, not just agribusiness, have profited from the status quo for decades...a lot of other people have been prosperous, too, calling to mind the phrase 'fat dumb and happy.'

Samuel Spagnola

You had me until you decided to throw in two Republican examples while ignoring 8 years of more farm subsidies and no energy policy under Clinton and the many years that farm subsidies were a Democrats best friend when they ran Congress (Tom Harkin, Bob Kerry, etc). So if you want to get partisan, there is plenty to go around. Leave that out, and I agree with a lot of what you have said.

Jim Caserta

The three policy items, trade, energy, and farm subsidies are all ones where we say one thing and do another. We say we want free trade, except for steel, or agriculture. We need to "break our addiction from imported oil" and then do, what? Anything? We want third world countries to pull themselves out of poverty, but eliminate agriculture as a means. You could throw in our "war on drugs" and "war on terror" as two others that seem to be fighting each other.

David Hoggard

I agree, Sam, leave that part out about pointing fingers at who's been the stupidest (new word, you're welcome). Our energy policy IS stupid... and has been so under, and perpetuated by, both Republican and Democratic administrations.

But really, we are the really stupid ones here... we elected all of them.

Ed Cone

Sam, spare me the political correctness test. I wasn't writing a comprehensive history of energy policy, although I did go back to St. FDR and the '70s to make the point that this stupidity spans decades and parties.

Bush I made a deliberate point of using that speedboat to show we didn't need to conserve. Cheney made a point a decade later of snarking at the very idea. They happened to be Republicans, and they made big symbolic statements. Deal with it.

Samuel Spagnola

Sometimes saying nothing is just as loud as saying something. You can't help but make every thing political and then whine and deny it when someone points it out. You had a good point, but you then undermined it with your partisan jabs. Deal with it.

Ed Cone

Actually, I made it bipartisan and multigenerational. You cherrypicked the GOP examples and started whining.

Denigrating conservation was stupid of those guys to do, the equivalent of taking the low-hanging fruit and stepping on it.

Samuel Spagnola

I cherrypicked the GOP examples? Those were the ONLY party related examples. That was one big damn cherry.

Ed Cone

Whatever, Sam.

It is worth noting that beyond the decades-long bipartisan policies, and the society-wide disinterest in sacrifice and change, we have had one party running things in DC for a long time now, during which time the world has changed in some ways that make our long-term policies look even worse, so if you want to go looking for partisans to blame, you might start there.

Samuel Spagnola

Yes, we've had one party running things for 6 years. Before that, we had divided government for 5 years, before that the Democrats ran everything for 2 years, before that we had divided government for 11 years, before that the Democrats ran everything for 4 years, before that we had divided government for 8 years, before that the Democrats ran everything for 8 years, before that we had divided government for 8 years, before that the Democrats ran everything for 16 years.

I guess the term "a long time" is relative to the point you're trying to make.

Ed Cone

The point I was trying to make in citing Friedman was that our energy policy seems stupid in a specific case, and also in a broader sense.

But the more you talk about it, the clearer it becomes: Bush has been in office for years, the GOP has controlled both houses of Congress that whole time, and energy issues have become more pressing than ever, in terms of economics and also geopolitics and (sorry, Bubba) the environment.

And in that considerable time in which the oilman and the Halliburton guy and their party have been in control, not much good has happened on energy policy...

Keep talking, Sam, you're convincing me that this should be seen in a partisan light.

Samuel Spagnola

And you're convincing me that you have a very selective memory about our energy woes which began in the 1970's, and that your party has been the dominant political force overall since FDR and did nothing, so if you want to look at the facts and then the partisan aspect of it, I would say there is plenty of blame to go around. However, only you would find a way to make it exclusively a Bush problem. Who the hell was voting for all those farm subsidies over the years?

Ed Cone

I've said several times now our energy problems have deep history and bipartisan causes, and that this is an American cultural problem as well as a political one.

But really, when does a President and a given generation of Congress take ownership of an issue?

Bush has been in power since 2001, with GOP control of both houses, as energy issues have become ever-more pressing.

We don't have much to show for it.


"We don't have much to show for it."

And you suppose that, by some odd chance the Democrats regain control of Congress for the next six years and the presidency for the next four year term that that statement STILL won't be operative?

Given their "Plan" to deal with terrorists, and their "Plan" for Iraq, optimism about their "Plan" regarding economics, geopolitics, and the environment would NOT be in order.

Dream on.......

Ed Cone

Leadership on these issues matters.

Friedman, for one, has banged the drum for a serious program for energy independence, and certainly we've seen nothing of the sort from the president, or his predecessors.

Friedman has also written that Americans are tired of waiting, and he sees evidence of "a million Manhattan projects," that is, enterpreneurs looking for solutions without waiting for government help.

I like the latter approach, but some political leadership would be nice...

Jim Caserta

What matters more, whose fault our current situation is, or finding a solution? Friedman's point is that we have these policies that seem to contradict each other. One cause is that our representatives pursue local-interest bills, bring home the pork. What is more important to an Iowa farmer, our national oil dependence or keeping his farm profitable? Getting representatives from varied geographical locations to put aside their local interests and elevate to the top the interests of our nation as a whole is a difficult, but not impossible, leadership task.

Ed Cone

Perhaps the geopolitical and environmental aspects of energy policy will make progress possible, if strong leadership emerges...

...or maybe Americans will forget about those things as gas gets relatively less expensive for a while, and keep pumping dollars into Iran and Saudi Arabia.


If you are saying "environmental aspects" to mean the implementation of a fuel based CO2 abatement policy, good luck. It's not going to happen, regardless of who has political control.

Who would waste money on a program that will cost more than we can bear (in EVERY aspect of the word "cost") and produce an infinitesimal and insignificant benefit?

The answer to that is self evident if you've been following the contribution of certain posters on the other thread.

If you are referring to air quality improvement in areas apart of CO2 abatement programs, you have a much more substantial case to make.

In terms of "cheap gas" meaning "pumping dollars into Iran and Saudi Arabia", it doesn't necessarily have to entirely be that way.

Samuel Spagnola

Jim, I agreed with Ed's substantive point. I don't agree that being part of the solution requires little partisan jabs.


"If you are saying "environmental aspects" to mean the implementation of a fuel based CO2 abatement policy, good luck. It's not going to happen, regardless of who has political control." -- Booba

It already is happening, at the state level, lead by Republicans.

Ed Cone

It's a partisan jab to notice that one party has controlled both the White House and Congress for the last half-decade?

Or to name names, amidst considerable context, and actually say who has scorned conservation?

If this be partisanship, let us make the most of it.

Samuel Spagnola

Yes it is if it's true as Friedman has suggested and any thinking person knows, that this problem has been going on for far longer than just the past 1/2 decade.

Ed Cone

Hence my remarks about Bush I, and the '70s, and US policies back to FDR.

None of which changes the fact that the current pres and his party have done very little to change the situation in their half-decade in power, even as the need to do so has grown more pressing.

I'll repeat my question, which you have not answered: when does a president take some sort of ownership of an issue?

We're five years in. Tick, tick, tick...

Samuel Spagnola

I agree that he should, just like Mr. Clinton and his predecessors did. You want to lay it all on him because it gives you another reason to bitch about Bush. I suppose that by your logic it's Bush's fault that people live in poverty because there are still people living in poverty on his watch. He's supposed to solve all the world's problems to avoid your scorn- a standard you don't seem willing to apply to the failure to solve these problems by your guys. It hurts your credibility on the issue.

Ed Cone

I have not said what you claim, Sam.

It's all right here in the thread.

And I don't consider anyone to be "my guy" on an issue just because of their party affiliation.

Bush has had ample time to make a difference on this issue. He has not done so.

The fact that his predecessors failed to make a difference does not change that fact.

Given the geopolitical realities we face, his failure to act, if it continues through his second term, will be seen as particularly damning, even given the sorry history of his predecessors on the same subject.

Samuel Spagnola

Okay Ed, we agree on the substance. Let's leave it at that.

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