Monday, August 04, 2008

When the Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get ... errr .... Handouts?

Mr Obama highlighted and lamented the fact that "We are addicted to foreign oil...."

The emphasis is mine, but it's strange to my sensibility. Is the API vetting his speeches? Are we not addicted to ALL oil - domestically produced as well? To energy writ-large? Are we actually addicted or are we simply callously clumsy and gluttonous in its use? Is it benign misuse or willful abuse?? Are we then addicted to its misuse? If we are addicted, should we go cold turkey, or use a patch? SO many questions. What did he mean?

But if we are addicted (and both President Bush and Sen Obama have used the same terminology) WTF is it with the pandering about releasing oil from the SPR, and gas-tax holidays (note to Mr Obama: this language could be misconstrued! -ed.) and the windfall Oil Co Tax-->$1000/head gift?? Either you're addicted or you're not, and if we ARE, it's rather irresponsible for our leaders to be suggesting that The State show up at the AA meeting with kegs-o-beer and a waitress from the tequila bar with bottles in her holster, limes, and a some shooters.

Are high prices the only thing that will change consumptive behaviour? If so, and The People have admitted they have a problem why don't The People (like every other civilized nation that understands the meaning of e-x-t-e-r-n-a-l-i-t-y)? agree to keep the prices HIGH to help themselves avoid imported oil temptation and let prevailing (post tax) price provide the adequate incentives to re-tool and invest in more homegrown (no pun intended) alternatives? And while you laugh at the thought of The People voluntarily taxing themselves at a HIGHER rate, consider that as recent as 2006, the Germans (and the right-wing conservative Christian Democrats to boot!!), in the world's model of social democracy, had little difficulty raising their [regressive] VAT by 3% to fund required/desired spending - a central plank in now-PM Angela Merkel's campaign if I recall correctly. And it was met, for the most part, with a stoicism that should shame virtually every American, considering that German property prices - even in 2006 where little changed from where they were nearly a decade-and-half prior. The difference in financial sobriety, and sense of social responsibility from the contrast in how the two societies react when things are tough, makes me wonder how America would react (in modernity) if things get really tough. Margaret Atwood may turn out to be prophetic...


burnside said...

My impression is that political candidates reflect opinion survey results. And that mass opinion is formed in large part by mass media. And, further, that media reportage as it's practiced in America is almost wholly innocent of either fact or judgment.

So you see the problem.

Policy, it would appear, is framed by lobbyists.

ndallasj said...

Our elected "leaders" have long since abandoned any concept of doing what is best for the citizens in the long run and are merely doing what they can to be re-elected in perpetuity. I think there is still a chance that enough Americans are willing to make sacrifices for the good of our progeny, but no leaders are stepping forward.

"Cassandra" said...

I agree elected leaders have failed to requite even the lowest of expectations.

Yet, other populous western nations have managed to tame the fragmentation, create a consensus upon what is in the basic public interest, and what is none of the State's business. For (worse) in my opinion, America has been unable (within the context of the structure of The State) to reach such a consensus.

Whether this is a structural flaw of American democracy, her cultural philosophy, or her people, I cannot say. I tend to think it is an intersection of a paradoxical and lazy philosophical failure to define a public interest, and the impact of intensely focused money upon the political structure that is effective at preventing such a definition.

The primacy of parochial self-interest is deeply cynical for the biggest failure of the rhetoric are local optimzation failures, or rather things that make logical sense at one level (say then individual) result aggregate up (contrary to dogma) into deep structural flaws, thus perpetuating the status quo.

Only the deepest and darkest of crises will alter her lethargy and inertia to make the required changes that reconcile such local optimization failures.

K T Cat said...

The whole discussion is meaningless. We are not addicted to oil, foreign or otherwise. We don't spend our time constructing holding tanks in our back yards so we can store oil. Nor do we page through catalogs or peruse eBay looking for different types of oil.

What we like is mobility, control over our environments, storage containers for our food, modern appliances, technologically advanced medicine...

If Obama really wants to get to the meat of the problem, he ought to be campaigning against all of the above. Which is pretty much what he's doing.

"Cassandra" said...

K.T. - I agree with your distillation of "what we like". Yet, fond of as I am of Mr Obama, I must call him out when I think he's out of bounds. I have dedicated a post in fact to forgiving him of the little white lie he must tell to get elected. That includes pandering to the AIPAC lobby, promising no new taxes, and NOT coming down hard on the American way of life before the election when running against a demagogue AND before we've cracked the little chestnut of cold nuclear fusion and transmutation of elements to satisfy our every material desire.

Avl Guy said...

Obama is not a risk-taker and doesn’t make things happen. As he said in his books, “People see in me what they desire to”.
I have a simple method of predicting how he handles situation: I ask myself, "What would Bill (Clinton, who I like) have done?

This yielded correctly predicting that Obama would 1) throw Samantha Powell under the train; 2) throw Rev. Wright under the train; 3) exaggerate the significance of giving a private speech to a closed audience in Chicago w/no local media present, against the Iraq War, while representing a predominately black Illinois district; 4) back-peddle from full troop withdrawals; 5) back peddle from 'No Drilling' stance; 6)pick a safe, bland VP.

Am I prescient? No, I’m just a native Southsider from Chicago and remember my impressions of the real Obama from 1999.