17 October 2011

What occurs to me

While watching Ken Burns Prohibition series, they tailed off toward its end with the flyby version of the FDR depression. There was, in that, one rather curious phrase which was uttered. That FDR's demands of Congress whilst awaiting inauguration included
1) The legalisation of beer (which turned into the 21st Amendment legalising all alcohol production and sale at the federal level, if not the state)
2) Banking reforms to stablise the banking sector, which was chock full of bank runs in the early 30s.
3) Budget cuts to balance the budget.

Yes, you read that third line correctly. Not only is that what Burns' used, but that's a core plank that FDR ran on; that Hoover was busily spending too much money. Earlier in there was this idea that FDR was running on repeal of Prohibition, or at least part of it, in part because it would give the government new sources of revenue to spend money. But since Hoover had passed a massive tax increase and a massive tariff increase, this wasn't likely to be a core problem for FDR. The fact that Hoover had also passed theretofore massive spending increases for social assistance was. Indeed what more he hadn't passed had been stymied by a hardcore resistance by Democratic members of Congress/Senate. I don't look at this record and think "well then, Hoover wasn't as bad as all that", I think it makes him look worse still, because of what he was spending on, how he raised taxes, etc. But it doesn't jive with the traditional story of the Depression era and the New Deal, so it gets glazed over in favor of a story where somehow FDR ran on a campaign in 1932 to massively increase government spending and involvement in the economy. He didn't.

While watching Ides of March (not terrible, but not very good either as movies go, there've been much better political intrigue movies). The line that gets oft repeated by many of either political party and stripe came up in its way. Somehow the logic goes that if we don't need to buy oil, we won't be our funding enemies and terrorists.

I recognize these nation-states as problems for American interests and sometimes supporters of things like terrorism, while also being significant oil producers.
1) Saudi Arabia (state sponsors terrorism, mostly against other Muslim countries, plus wealthy oil barons who also sponsor such actions)
2) Iran (sponsors Hez'ballah and Syria especially)
3) Russia (mostly annoying, much less so than 25-30 years ago)
4) Venezuela (mostly annoying, less so than Russia)
5) Iraq (just.. a complete mess)
6) Sudan (also messy, oil is somewhat diminished by the separation of South Sudan)
7) Libya (not clear how the revolt shakes out, but I'm doubtful for improvements)
8) Syria (not clear how the revolt shakes out, but very doubtful for improvement)

I don't put on the list as supposedly evil Muslim-Middle Eastern nations: Qatar, UAE, Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt (Egypt is a mixed bag on the whole terrorism issue though), and then one could throw in as problems Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan, North Korea, Cuba, Yemen, Palestine, parts of Lebanon, Myanmar, Colombia, etc. So far as I'm aware, none of those are major oil producers but yet often engage in a whole range of devious actions. 

So even if one adds up all the oil being bought in this way from these states by Americans, it's something like less than 20% of our domestic oil consumption. The other 80% comes from ourselves, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Norway, UK, etc (the argument against Mexico being included as a problem is that many of Mexico's problems are directly caused by the US drug war policies and related meddling). There are other countries which are far more dependent on oil from these hostile nation-states. Most of them as a result have very interesting foreign relations. But they don't get a ton of flashback terrorism from it. Therefore, the problem is not a) American energy requirements and trade, but rather something closer to b) American occupation and intense domestic involvement of other countries. I'd hardly say oil is the currency of terror given the number of countries running around without it causing similar problems.

There are sensible reasons to reduce our dependence on oil for energy, and to reform energy use generally toward other sources (wind, solar, natural gas, nuclear, etc). But terrorism is hardly even worth mentioning as one of them. National security is barely worth mentioning even. Energy independence is not worth mentioning. And so on.

Basically. I really dislike it when our media narratives take on false and misleading messages that are already popular, but still completely wrong.
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