Being a Good Conservative and Understanding Oil

Republican Party (United States)

I Like Elephants.

Good conservatives — primarily American Republicans, of course — understand all the important issues best.  Economics, the environment, politics, human rights, education, family values and morality…They say so all the time.  So I thought, heck, why not give it a try?  Why not undergo a conservative conversion?  I want to be the best, too.

I presume there is plenty of conservative superiority to go around.  They spend millions and millions to get people to sign on, after all.  If there were a limited supply of superiority, you would think wise conservatives would be asking Americans to spend millions and millions to join them, right?

(Ok, so liberals do it, too.  My Conservative Conversion isn’t complete.  I can still have some fun.)

I was listening to NPR — something I will need to forgo as a conservative, alas — when a story about the looming Obama-Romney presidential election focused on the politics of oil.  That gave me the idea to start my Conservative Conversion with oil, a topic conservatives know best.

The solution to our energy problem is simple.  We only need to drill for more oil in this country.

The conservative premise looks something like this:  If we produce more oil, oil prices will come down, our economy will recover, and we’ll all be back at the drive-in diner in the 1950s again.

The 1950s drive-in seems like a stretch, but it is quaint and I like it so I decided to roll with it.  The rest of the premise is more difficult to swallow, unless, of course, you graced with a conservative’s greatest self-serving asset:  Ignorance.

As my post started to fill with links to charts, studies, and smart people, I began to feel uneasy.  None of it was squaring with the “Drill, Baby, Drill” policy promoted as gospel by conservatives.  Newt Gingrich says we can have $2.50 gasoline.  Michele Bachmann, however, is a better choice.  She has us at $2.00 a gallon.  So what where did I stray on my early course toward conservatism.

I started to think about this in a common sense sort of way, and unfortunately I could not get get any of the facts to square with the conservative premise.  Not being a fully fledged conservative, facts and common sense mattered.  So imagine my frustration — and my disappointment — as I struggled to join the conservative bandwagon.

Fortunately, I was just being silly.  The first thing a good conservative must do is distance himself from facts, reason, and common sense.  And, by golly…I wasn’t doing that.  Jeepers, it is a lot harder being superior than I thought!

The facts fouling the conservative solution came from smart people doing research and sharing ideas and we know where those people come from.  Academe.  Or Hollywood.  They are the liberal elite and we must at all cost avoid the elite.  Better to look into the glassy stare of Sarah Palin or even Mitt Romney than rely on some unshaven leftist intellectual for your facts.  (Sorry, Paul Krugman.)

That simple mistake was screwing me up.

And when I figured that I didn’t need facts, my post became shorter and less troublesome.  Blog posts are supposed to be short and simple anyway, a  a bit of advice for which I never took much respect.

But even today, as a conservative wannabe, I don’t understand this.  The United States consumes almost 20 million barrels of oil a day and produces less than half of that.  But even if we were able to produce more than our demand, there isn’t any guarantee that our costs would go down.

There is a little problem in the conservative dream of controlling our country’s energy costs.  That problem isn’t Barak Obama.  It isn’t really a factor of domestic production and consumption.  The obstacle to controlling our energy costs is the global market for oil.

Nuisances like cartels and emerging markets will always wreak havoc on the idea of energy independence for as long as we choose to rely on a resource like oil for a major share of our energy resources.  Factors of production matter.  It costs about 1/10 as much to “lift” a barrel of oil in regions like the Middle East and the former Soviet republics than it does in the North Sea and North America.

If oil were to fall below $90 a barrel again, for example, it is hard to see how oil exploration would continue in the United States.  Oil wells would like go quiet here.  We would import “cheaper” oil and delay further our independence from oil and the global oil market.

But that’s neither here nor there…the United States doesn’t have the oil to cover its needs, neither in the short term nor in the long term.  A policy of drilling for more oil seems economically unsound.

“Drill, Baby, Drill” has terrible environmental impacts, too, as our remaining oil becomes more difficult to reach and as refining and burning lower grade oil products elevates pollutants and greenhouse gasses.

the log of the political part the common sense...

Don’t worry, conservatives, I haven’t given up.  I want to be right!  And, man, do I look not-so-great in red.  But superiority and bliss is my goal.  Perhaps I’ll have better luck joining you on important policy issues like marriage and keeping the children of illegal immigrants out of our declining schools.  Of course there’s the fight to defend America’s disaster…it’s decaying health care system.

On at least one issue, intelligence, compassion, and common sense won’t matter.  Correct?  Please advise.


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