The Eternal Energy Crisis

May 27, 2010 07:45

Oil imports have been one of the colossal policy failures of U.S. history, aggravated by the steroid-bloated canard that the problem can be solved by erecting windmills and clapping solar panels like limpets to almost everything.

Conrad Black at NRO

The imperishability of the energy crisis is one of the howling mysteries of American political science. It has been nearly 40 years since President Nixon founded Project Independence, an effort to regain energy self-sufficiency and stop unreliable oil-exporting states from inconveniencing U.S. national-security policy. At that time, the United States imported 20 percent of its oil, and the price was between $10 and $20 per barrel. The great oil-exporting states of Iran and Venezuela were in the friendly hands of the shah of Iran and democratic, reasonably well-disposed leaders in Caracas.

Most relatively informed people are aware of the general pattern of what has happened since. There has been a double cat-and-mouse game as America has made purposeful, but not very consequential, noises about conservation and alternative energy sources, and OPEC and other oil exporters have increased oil production but failed to raise supply adequately to meet demand.

The simultaneous game has been the inflation of the Western currencies in a treadmill to oblivion that in fact exceeds published figures, and where the desirability of disguising the real rate of inflation dovetailed conveniently with the ambitions of the political class not to appear to be cavalier about debasing the value of money. This process has been roughly accompanied by the syncopated rise in the price of oil, from $3 to $80 in 40 years — 2,600 percent, or 65 percent annually, leaving out the sharpest price fluctuations.


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