99 Percent: Is the economy purely about oil, mostly foreign?
Even without a strike on Iran, is OPEC dependence already crushing the US economy?
How much does US foreign oil dependence cost? According to the latest estimates, simply protecting US oil shipping lanes — to import foreign oil — costs the US at least $80 billion per year. But that’s not even the worst of it, President Bush’s income tax cuts, as well as President Obama’s payroll tax cuts — both meant to stimulate the economy — were wiped out by the rising costs of oil to the tune of $212 billion.
$80 billion lost every year on oil lanes, $212 billion lost on economic stimulation efforts, extra military costs, plus just spending hundreds of billions every year on foreign oil. Is there really anything more important to the economy than oil? And is there anything more dangerous to the 99 percent of America struggling to get by than OPEC dependence?
That’s the latest idea put forth by ex-GM Vice Chairmen — and co-daddy of the Chevy Volt — along with a few members of the Securing America’s Future Energy’s (SAFE) Energy Security Leadership Council. So, what’s their answer?
More drilling, of course, but the two biggest opportunities: natural gas for heavy duty trucks and electrification.
Obviously, this is the same basic idea that I’ve been calling for in the Soultek Plan for Energy Independence, but I haven’t been able to cite numbers like $212 billion on top of this idea, until now. Likewise, I’ve only assumed that protecting oil shipping lanes was a $10 or $20 billion a year — wanting to remain conservative. But these new numbers shed light on just how destructive foreign oil dependence IS, rather how dangerous it is becoming. Yet, far greater foreign oil dependence dangers are lurking.
In my opinion, the facts prove almost without a doubt that the US cannot move to electrification fast enough and electrification; therefore, cannot be THE solution. The assembly lines and supply chains just aren’t yet in place. That doesn’t mean electrification is bad or wrong. It simply means electrification needs to be put into context. In the short term, more domestic drilling, better energy efficiency, and particularly natural gas, offer the best bridge to a viable, electric transportation system.
Fortunately, the opportunity to drastically change America is within reach, and from the polls I’ve seen most Americans would endorse such a plan. Unfortunately, the powerful and hardcore left and right won’t let their respective parties take action. The right wants free markets. Free markets? In a world where National Oil Companies (NOCs) own 90 percent of known oil reserves? Please. Similarly, the left only wants solar powered electric cars. Long term, that’s a noble goal, but short term, it’s asinine if you simply factor the legacy effect of the US fleet into the energy policy conversation. No matter what, it will take decades to roll out electrification. We absolutely need bridges.
Thus, both sides need to get real. Ironically, both the hardcore left and right can ultimately have their way long term, if they’re willing to work together, for the benefit of the people, the 99 percent. A short term focus on increased domestic production and, more important, switching heavy duty trucks to natural gas, can pay for themselves via things like jobs, fuel cost savings and not having to spend $80 billion on maintaining foreign oil shipping lanes. Eventually the savings will be so great that solar powered electrification will be worth the investment because we’ll realize that long term, it actually will be much cheaper. Electrification will be the long term, free market solution if we’re honest about the real world costs of non-free market advocating NOCs, for instance.
Sadly, however, it doesn’t really seem to be ‘the people’ that really drives the true power brokers on either side of the aisle. It’s their power, not your benefit — the 99 percent — that drives them. And only the 99 percent can change that, together.