Monday, June 09, 2008

Price parabolas, and the need for a leader

On Friday, oil closed at a record of $137.69. Never before has the price of black gold been this high, and after seeing the price spike $10.15 in one day, many are fearful of what will happen when the markets open Monday.

Not to sound like a doomer, but in my mind, what we’re seeing, with the meltdown of the credit market, record rates of foreclosures, with many homeowners literally leaving the keys in the mailbox, and walking away, as well as a parabolic upward surge in energy costs, might be the beginning of a crisis in the U.S., and possibly what James Kunstler wrote about, in The Long Emergency.

Actually, rather than being fearful, as would be normal given the uncoupling of energy costs, from supply and demand, and see them totally at the whim of the kind of mob psychology that fuels wild speculation, Americans are scratching their heads. They’re not quite sure what’s going on. All they know is that it’s costing them more and more each week, or every three, or four days, when they drive up to the pump.

In the midst of this financial meltdown, and national crisis, nary a politician has stepped forward to talk about the issue in anything more than sweeping political-speak. Now might be a time when our supposed oilmen in charge, could actually offer Americans some sense of what’s taking place, since both come from the world of oil derricks, and cowboy boots. Instead, the lamest of presidential ducks, President Bush, is nowhere to be found. Cheney might be dead, for all we know, as Americans haven’t heard from him in months.

On the horserace side of things, neither Obama, nor McCain have a clue of what needs to happen. Now would be a time to truly show the voters that they are prepared to lead, as this crisis has provided a golden opportunity to step forward, and do something to calm the spooked markets. One or both men could convene an energy summit. They could bring in knowledgeable people from oil, finance, economists, and others, to see what might be done in the short-term, to ease the pain that most Americans are beginning to feel each time they fill up the SUV, or pass through the check out line at the supermarket. They also could offer some specific substance when they talk in the most general of terms about their national energy policy. Any idiot can say they are for alternative energy, as the gaggle of candidates running for everything from dogcatcher, to president now does. What the hell does it all mean, your talk of “alternative energy?”

That’s not going to happen, however. What we’re witnessing is the kind of leadership vacuum that comes from decades of politicians coming to the federal ATM in Washington with an empty satchel, and stuffing it full of taxpayer money, then walking off, while the next person in line does the same. It’s no better at the state, or local level, either. We are seeing a dearth of leadership of epic proportions. No one, and I mean no one, is offering anything hinting at solutions. The left tell you to buy a Prius (Pre-ass), and the right proffer drilling in the national parks. Actually, Newt Gingrich makes as much sense as anyone does at this point, when the other side's leader, Barry Obama, seems to be channeling Jimmy Carter, circa 1976. Maybe Mr. Change was just offering a way of tackling America's obesity problem?

We are at the mercy of the hucksters, and con men, my friends. Because of this, I’m concerned that we’ll continue to see things unravel, and get worse, before they get better. And unfortunately for the simple minds out in TV land, neither John Obama, or the old guy, Barack McCain will offer a dimes worth of difference.


Mark LaFlamme said...

Excellent breakdown. Among the best I've seen and I've been poring over the doom and gloom at The Swamp.
With this crisis topping the list of concerns of most Americans, you get the feeling that the next president will be the candidate who steps up with the courage to address the matter in frank terms. I like that Obama at least rejected the easy sounding gas tax holiday, but we'd like to hear a little more from him on that.
And you raise a great and infuriating point. What a couple of absolute tools currently reside in the White House. Elite jackasses who've attained power and riches through oil and yet prove impotent and impassive on the crisis. Makes me wonder how that brainwashed group of Republican cheerleaders (I know many, I'm ashamed to say) will spin this one as they gas up their SUV's.
Great piece, Jim. I'm taking my pogo stick to work today.

Jim said...

I'd like to hear a little more from both candidates, and please, be as specific as you'd like to be!

Bush/Cheney were the ultimate bait and switch, particularly on energy. The "oil guys" were supposed to know the industry, and the world's players. Now we're looking at $5 gasoline, and the potential of torching our furniture to stay warm this winter.

Meanwhile, these two, who ought to be frog-marched out of the White House, will end up settling down for a comfy retirement. Well Bush, at least. Cheney's ticker is always just one beat away from the pearly gates (or dinner with the devil, depending on your political persuasion/theology).

Pogo sticks--now there's a blast from the past. Apparently, pogo sticks are this year's scooters.

Mark LaFlamme said...

Wow, three hundred clams for a pogo stick? I'll build my own. Rip a spring from the car, swipe some hydraulics from a junked out tractor, I'm good to go. Let's pogo on the White House. At the very least, the BOING BOING BOING BOING should keep those nimwits up at night.

Weaseldog said...

Great Article Jim!

$5/gal gas? Maybe. I think there will be some effort to stabilize prices leading up to Nov 4th.

After that, it'll be like letting loose a pogo stick...

I think that by the end of the year, $10 gallon might be the neighborhood we're looking at.

I haven't been over the CF Nation in a while. Are the trolls as nice as they always were? Are they still preaching happy days?

Jim said...

I steer clear of most sites like CFN these days. I'm sure most of the regulars there are predicting the end of the world right around Labor Day.

It's that whole Schadenfreude thing going on there, and elsewhere in the blogosphere.