But Now You Know

The search for truth in human action

So You Thought Oil Prices Were NOT Driven Up by War?


Resistance fighters in Gaza, struggling against the internationally condemned occupation of Palestine by the Israeli government, have been shooting shoulder-fired missiles at Israel for years, now. They have even killed a handful of people, in their largely-fruitless effort.

Faced with an election, and the need for an October Surprise, the Israeli government decided to “retaliate” against this long-standing effort, by slaughtering a few thousand semi-random Palestinians, by attacking ANYONE who lived in the areas from whence the missiles supposedly were being fired.

The effect on the US, other than dirtying its hands by unconditionally defending the Israeli government’s war crimes?

Oil prices, that were steadily declining for months, as I noted and explained here, suddenly reversed themselves, and have climbed since the butchery started.

The only glimmer of hope for the US economy, keeping hope of not being entirely trapped in another economic depression, was the dramatic drop in the oil prices that helped create the depression in the first place.

Anyone who thinks the previous, 700% inflation of oil prices were from a weak dollar, or oil shortages, or growth in demand, et cetera, take note. As illustrated in this chart, the actual cause of high oil prices was, and is today, foreign policy strife.

We’re backing “retaliation” against the Palestinian neighborhoods that is killing tens, or hundreds, of times more innocents than the Palestinian resistance fighter attacks do, and the sole “benefit” we get is newly crippling oil prices.

Advertisements

January 6, 2009 Posted by | Economy, International, Politics | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Super-Sizing Sour Grapes


What Americans have, even in the midst of an economic depression, is an embarrassment of riches.

When the citizens of other countries complain that Americas eat too much, what they are really saying is “We are jealous of America’s plentiful food”; Despite (or because of) all their redistributive, anti-choice socialist programs, the typical European has less access to food, in diversity or amount, than even the poorest fifth of Americans. Maybe nobody in Europe goes hungry, but they don’t really prosper, either.  (facebook readers beware; the rest of the article is after the picture, don’t ask me why that happens)

It is easy to despise what you cannot get.</b>

A Fox found a bunch of grapes, on a vine over a lofty branch. Turning round with a One, Two, Three, he jumped up, but with no success. At last he had to give it up, and walked away with his nose in the air, saying: "I am sure they are sour, anyway." MORAL: It is easy to despise what you cannot get.

And when they say “Americans are too fat”, what they mean is “Americans are more affluent”. Americans don’t need to walk as much, or otherwise engage in as much involuntary physical labor. Even poor Americans have more comfortable homes, more access to cars, more video games and computers, infinitely better television, more leisure, even without the Europeans’ governments forcing them to suffer the pay cut imposed by a mandatory six week vacation every year. 

Of course their response to this being pointed out is “more leisure? More entertainment? More living space? Bah! What kind of horrible way of measuring quality of life! People must be equal, not happy, you dirty materialist!” And yet, of course, everything about socialism is materialistic, an endless class war of envy and hate, worrying about who has more than whom, redistributing wealth, controlling our choices. That is the reason Marxists called it the Materialist Dialectic.

But it turns out that socialism traps people in stagnancy and perpetual shortages, while freedom allows people to have many more things. So, naturally, the actual materialists had to turn around and claim that prosperity is “decadent”, and “greedy”. How it can be more greedy than wanting to redistribute other people’s money for oneself, I don’t know.

Americans have a tendency to be hard workers. They are, statistically, the most productive society on the planet…but people, in general, who have access to more food and more leisure have to learn how to balance that with the need to choose to maintain physical fitness. Even if Americans, as a society, do learn that, the percentage of individuals who do not will still drag down the “average”.

An embarrassment of riches is a wonderful problem to have. “Oh no, too many people want to date me!” “Oh woe, I’ve grown so many tomatoes, I must give them away!” “Pitty me: now that I’ve won the lottery, people keep asking me for money!”

Who would seriously choose a life of more hunger, less choice, and more involuntary struggle over one where they need to choose to struggle a bit to stay in good physical condition?

In tests, lab animals that go somewhat hungry live longer. This probably is true of people as well…but what benefit is the added life, if it’s a result of being forced to do with less? 

We’re better off being faced with the need to control how much to work out, to watch our diet, et cetera, than being lean because we haven’t the chance to be flappy even if we were irresponsible. To be free to choose whether to life short, fat, comfortable lives, or strive for longer, healthier lives.

Some of us will chose wrong…but that isn’t necessarily limited to the ones who choose leisure. 

For some people, the effort may make life less worthwhile. For others, the working to “stay fit” might actually be more fun, as well as healthier. 

Americans are free to choose, whereas the victims of socialism in the rest of the world have what is supposedly best forced upon them “for your own good”, in a one-size-fits-all solution. People are better off being free to determine their own size.

That’s why even the most enlightened, economically and socially homogeneous European country still has more citizens wishing to become Americans, than Americans (despite our larger population) wishing to move to that country.

The price of choice, is the risk of mistakes. Even life-altering ones. But, overall, the benefit far outweighs the cost.

Americans can be proud to have the freedom that allows us the prosperity to choose whether to supersize their meals. The reason the rest of the world complains, ultimately, is that they are deprived of even the option. They have super-sized Sour Grapes.

December 19, 2008 Posted by | Economy, Family, International, Philosophy, Politics | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Stopping Piracy on the High Seas


Now that a ship of the evil, but highly influential, Saudi tyranny has been hijacked by pirates, suddenly the long-standing problem of piracy in the Indian ocean is headline news. 

Crackpot neocons like Michael Savage, and his imitator Mark Levin, are calling for the US Navy to run around destroying boats and slaughtering people suspected of piracy.

Socialists/Liberals are proposing the normal, faux-pacifist solutions of more international committees and taxpayer funding to bureaucratically consider the problem, and more handouts, and of course trying to force an authoritarian central government on Somalia, sort of a reverse-Iraq, nation-destroying project.

But the real solution is, as usual, not one of more governmental intrusion, but one of more individual liberty and responsibility:

Allow private craft to be armed.

Now, most people probably don’t realize this, but there are complete bans on boats or ships carrying defenses in most nations where you might come to port. These leave craft largely helpless against piracy, even though the ban on defense has no practical benefit.

Imagine how easy it would actually have been for a ship the size of an oil tanker to defend itself, against pirates in a speedboat, armed with rifles and grenades. Especially considering the expenditure that would be justified by the value of its cargo. How good a defense could YOU afford, if you were shipping $100,000,000 worth of oil?

The pirates reportedly captured the supertanker with rifles and grenades, in a speedboat. Imagine of the tanker were legally allowed to defend itself...

The pirates reportedly captured the supertanker with rifles and grenades, in a speedboat. Imagine if the tanker were legally allowed to defend itself...

Allowing/encouraging craft to defend themselves would have the added benefit of making it safer for any craft to NOT defend itself. Even pacifists, who did not arm their boats, would be protected, because any potential pirates could not know whether the boat is armed, or not. So ALL people would be safer, if only SOME would arm themselves well enough to make piracy too dangerous.

This is, of course, the story of Big Brotherment mentality, where the governments constantly arm themselves better, but tell the individuals that arming yourself is bad…and yet fail to protect the disarmed people WITH the government’s massive weaponry.

Meanwhile, of course, criminals arm themselves BETTER, because of the disarmed masses. What is easy to buy on the black market is whatever desirable thing is most wrongfully banned by a government.

Even a small boat could take out an attacker with a single shot…and yet, of course, pirates would not profit if THEY took out victims with a single shot. You don’t make any money from ransom, nor gain any loot, if you sink your target. 

Therefore, if ships were allowed to defend themselves, there would BE no pirates, because it would be far more risky, with modern weaponry, than profitable.

Problem actually solved. 

If, instead, we have government deal with the problem of piracy…well, when’s the last time government actually solved a problem? Actually fixed the thing they claimed to be fighting, so that the problem was simply gone, and the powers usurped to deal with it were returned to the people?

Has that ever happened?

Let’s go with liberty, letting ships defend themselves, instead of bureaucracy, spending billions to probably make the problem worse.

December 4, 2008 Posted by | International, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

India, an Evil Empire, Draws Attacks in Mumbai


The terrorists attacking India are as evil in their chosen tactics as were Catholic terrorists in Ireland in 1920,  Jewish terrorists in Palestine in 1948, or American terrorists in Oklahoma city in 1995. 

But, as with those and most other terrorists, what drives the madmen who attacked India is a laundry list of wrongs and evils committed against those terrorists’ people. When there is such horror, and all reasonable ways of getting justice are exhausted, some small part of the victims will always turn to unreasonable ways.

Just as the British Empire committed many evils, earning it strife with Ireland, Palestine, and many others, so India (once fighting that very British Empire with terrorism) is an evil empire today, repressing and oppressing people within its own borders, plus occupying lands it illegitimately occupies, like Kashmir.

There are more Indian troops per capita in Kashmir, than any other occupation force on earth, including Communist China in Tibet, Israel in Palestine, Americans in Baghdad, or Russians in Chechnya

There are more Indian troops per capita in Kashmir, than any other occupation force on earth, including Communist China in Tibet, Israel in Palestine, Americans in Baghdad, or Russians in Chechnya

In 1947,  India and Pakistan were being formed from the shambles of the British Empire. Each state of that region was supposed to choose which of the two countries to join.

When Kashmir’s ruler was slow to decide who to join, India attacked Kashmir, invading and occupying their land, robbing the 80% Muslim population from what was an almost inevitable decision to join Pakistan, or else declare independence.

When India persisted in occupying this region, preventing its union with Pakistan, the United Nations declared that it Kashmir should have an election, referred to as a “plebiscite”, in order to determine whether it joined India or Pakistan.

Since Kashmir is 80% Muslim, there was never any doubt which way the election would go…so “democratic” India has not, in the 60 years since, EVER allowed that election, continuing to illegitimately occupy Kashmir.

This was part of India’s very aggressive, violet habit at that time. For example, they  also invaded and forcibly annexed the states of Junagadh and Hyderabad, one of which wanted to become Pakistani, the other wanting independence. India’s excuse was that both were majority Hindu…yet it ignores the fact that Kashmir is overwhelmingly Muslim.

People in Kashmir resist their country’s occupation, as any patriots should be expected to do.

When they do this against India’s troops, not only is it not “terrorism”, but it’s actually legal and legitimate, under international law, international humanitarian law, and Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. All people have a right to fight foreign occupation forces, not only a natural right, but even a legal one.

The repression and violence brought on by the extreme Indian military occupation, killing thousands of Kashmiri, ends up driving them to ever greater desperation. The Pakistani government takes advantage of this distress, funding militant movements because it wants the benefit of Kashmir as a territory, as illustrated by its opposition to Kashmir simply voting for its own independence.

Terrorism, in this situation, is almost inevitable. The war spills over from the Indian troops terrorizing the people of Kashmir, to Kashmiri terrorizing people in India. It’s not right, but it’s a natural result of the Indian government’s evil.

The same happened when Russia occupied Chechnya, the Soviets occupied Afghanistan…when you wrongfully occupy a people’s homeland, bringing them terror and suffering, eventually they bring it back to you.

December 1, 2008 Posted by | International | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Why Oil and Gas Prices Are Falling


We all know that high gas/energy prices, driven by high oil prices, are a large part of what has crippled the US economy.

But what has caused that?

Oil prices are not set by oil companies, but by futures and commodities speculators, who bid on the oil at auctions. The companies have no more control over the price than someone selling with a regular auction on EBay.

The speculators decide what they are willing to pay, based on what they believe the future of oil to be.

How Prices Rose

In 1999, the monopolistic oil cartel OPEC started cutting production, specifically to help themselves and their allies get rich by driving up the price of oil. Speculators, naturally, started bidding more for oil, expecting there to be a shortage. It went from well under $20 per barrel to over $30.

Then George W Bush got elected.

People assumed, because wealthy oil barons in Texas and Saudi Arabia were largely responsible for financing him, that plentiful oil was in their future. This ignored history, of course, because plentiful oil is cheap, and cheap oil is bad for oil barons. The more expensive oil is, the better. It would have made more sense to expect Bush to do things that would drive up the price of oil.

Bush and Abdullah Saud

Bush holds hands with a member of the Saudi tyranny, top state sponsor of terrorism, and leader of the push to keep oil prices high

But they assumed it’d be plentiful, so they bid lower on it, and the price fell. It got almost back down to its natural, under-$20 price range.

But that was bad for Bush’s financiers.

In fact, there was a lot of loud public worry, among oil barons, about how the price of oil was returning to normal.

Then came September 11th, 2001. 

Afghanistan

After 9-11, there were many ways America could go. 

The way Bush chose to lead, was to first attack Afghanistan. He said this was because they were harboring bin Laden. He promised, though, that he was going to exhaust all diplomatic means, and only attack them as a last resort.

But before he attacked, the government of Afghanistan, a long-time US ally whom Bush had just recently sent, openly and on record, a great deal of grant money for their help, offered to turn over bin Laden for war crimes trial.

Bush ignored the offer, refusing even to discuss it with them. When they offered a second time, the US attacked the very next day.

Speculators saw this as a very bad sign for oil, because Afghanistan was closely aligned with many oil-producing countries, and they bid more for it, driving the price into the high $20 range, fifty percent higher than its natural price.

Iraq

Then Bush began threatening to attack Iraq. Now Afghanistan had at least some association with Al Qaeda…but Iraq, of course, was ruled by Al Qaeda’s #2 enemy after the US: Saddam Hussein.

Oil speculators found this pretty scary, and confusing. The price of oil rose to close to $40, more than twice its natural range.

Gradually, it declined, on the promise of cheap oil from Iraq, even though every government projection of conquering Iraq anticipated years of quagmire and turmoil, jeopardizing oil supplies for a long time to come. This is why his father had not done it.

(more after this K-rad graphic)

 

Oil Prices, Real and Adjusted, from 1990 to mid 2008

Oil Prices, Real and Adjusted, from 1990 to mid 2008

Sure enough, as time war on, the war got worse, and the speculators responded by bidding ever-higher for oil.

 

General Belligerence

What’s more, whenever the price was finally stabilizing a bit, the Bush administration would do something else that threatened the oil supply, like picking fights with Hugo Chavez, or threatening to attack Iran. Each time, investors were frightened, and the oil price climbed.

Eventually, this kind of belligerent foreign policy pattern pushed it up to $140 per barrel, over 700% above its natural price of just a few years earlier.

Sane Foreign Policy?

Then, in early 2008, it began to grow increasingly likely that Barak Obama would be the Democratic nominee. Unlike Hillary, he had always opposed this kind of foreign policy. Speculators began to weigh the possibility of a different foreign policy into their price bids.

Obama's Oil Price Rescue

As Obama's election grew more likely, oil buyers became reassured that oil supplies might be secure, and bid less, driving down prices.

As he clinched the nomination, and then began to dominate the polls versus McCain, the amount speculators were willing to pay steadily declined.

 

By the time he was elected, which had been seen as a probable for some time, they had built a peaceful foreign policy into the price, so that it was half its peak. 

The day after he was elected, the price fell dramatically. 

Now it remains in a holding pattern, a fraction of its peak just a year ago…waiting to see if Barak Obama is going to keep his promise of sane foreign policy. If he does, we could see oil falling down to its natural price, which by now is probably little more than $30 a barrel.

Ironically, sane foreign policy has an even greater impact on what the investors in oil are willing to pay, than Obama’s own position as a Liberal enemy of the energy needs of Americans.

November 24, 2008 Posted by | Economy, International | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

%d bloggers like this: