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In order to keep up with the nature of free, spirited debate, I wanted to place the chat feature at the top of the homepage. This ensures people can come here and share their views on anything they wish and not have it be related to any specific discussion. Here, people can share ideas, links, and views "unmoderated" and an their own pace. To me, this makes The Elephant in the Room blog truly a place for debate.

Friday, February 24, 2012

February 24, 2012 - Morning Headlines

Morning Headlines:

- Pakistan, a country that is believed to harbor many of the region's Al Qaeda fighters, is calling on the Taliban to participate in peace talks with Afghanistan and the United States (Fox News):

- The U.S. and other world leaders will meet today in Tunis, Tunisia to formulate a plan for Syria (CNN):

- The U.S. Postal Service is planning to cut 35,000 jobs starting in May or June in an effort to save $2.1 billion in labor costs out of a $20 billion total cost savings plan (CNN Money):

- An Iraqi Al Qaeda division claimed it was responsible for the deadly attacks that killed 55 in Iraq yesterday (ABC News):

- Comedian Bill Maher makes "surprise" $1 million donation to Obama's Super PAC (Yahoo!):


  1. Good morning LME, hope things have been going well.

    This article in particular caught my attention this morning:

    I just hope that everyone understands it is completely impossible, by any practical means, for the president to predict, dictate, or control gas prices in America.

    This is short of greatly subsidizing gas prices, depleting our national petroleum reserves (which are meant for wartime emergencies), going to war with OPEC countries and taking over their oil production, or banning our American corporations from exporting it, all of which we know will not happen.

    It's a global commodity, and even if we abolished the EPA and drilled/refined to our hearts content we wouldn't be able to shake a stick at the global supply; it's as empty and ridiculous a promising to bring gold prices back to $250/ounce.

    This is especially the case as OPEC has and will continue to manipulate their production levels to artificially keep the prices at desirable levels, anytime the global supply increases too much. And yes, they can do this while we can’t, because they control 70% of the oil while we could never control more than 5-10% within our own borders.

    Furthermore, producing more oil in America is more likely to increase the amount of gas exported than it is to increase the amounts we produce for ourselves.

    That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but to act like producing it here means it will be used here is ill-informed. We’re actually exporting record amounts of gas/jet fuel/petroleum products right now, to the tune of 114m gallons per DAY. Because why keep it in America when it can be sold for much higher prices to developing countries? And businesses have the right to do this because they’re built to make profits, so I don’t see anyone changing that, and as long as that remains true it’s far more likely that oil refined here will be exported.

    In short: Gas prices can not be controlled by the President, and it is sickening that anyone is campaigning on the false promise of being able to magically control it.

  2. Good morning RKen.

    Thanks for the great laugh this morning. "I just hope that everyone understands it is completely impossible, by any practical means, for the president to predict, dictate, or control gas prices in America."

    Did something change in January of 2009? It must have because in 2007 the ever astute (i mean that sardonically) Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said,"Drivers are paying a heavy price for the Bush Administration's failure to enact a comprehensive energy policy."

    In 2007, when gas prices were at the unbelievable rate of $3.22, then-Senator Barack Obama demanded the FTC investigate "big oil." In the 2008 presidential election year, presidential nominee Barack Obama blamed the Bush administration for lacking an energy policy to combat high oil prices.

    In fact if you listened to the lame stream media in those days you'd swear the first thing President Bush did everyday was decide what the gas prices would be. Thank God it's different now. (sarcasm)

    How does that work, if the Democrats can blame a Republican, they control gas prices but the Democrats don't have anything to do with increasing prices?

    Now all of the sudden the ole Wonder Boy (Barry Hussein 0bama) is staring at $4/gallon and it's of course, "Not my fault". LOL

    1. Good morning slim,

      Believe me; I feel the same whether it is a Democrat or a Republican attempting to win votes over the promise of any kind of absolute gas price control. Doesn’t matter who, it is intolerable.

      It was unacceptable before, and it’s just as unacceptable now.

      Again, the only debatable aspects of this topic that can actually have a meaningful effect on our short-term (as in, prices over the next 0-10 years) gas prices are whether we as a country decide to:
      - Greatly subsidize gas prices.
      - Deplete our national petroleum reserves (which are meant for wartime emergencies)
      - Go to war with OPEC countries.
      - Strongly regulating American oil companies.

      Which again, we all know that none of which will happen (and rightfully so).

      As a minor correction, in 2007 Nancy and the Democrats sent a request to the Bush administration to tap into our petroleum reserves to help ease the effect of the rising gas prices. Bush's administration refused, and that's what lead to the following rhetoric about 'Drivers paying a heavy price for the Bush administration's failure to address the problem.' That had more to do with disagreement on the use of our reserves than it did for whether the President could dictate $2 gas prices, which is a bit different from the current discussion.

      For the record I don’t agree with using the reserves, but at the same time I think it’s far more within reason to debate that than it is to make promises of $2/$2.5 gas, which in all fairness has been far more prominent in the GOP debates than it was in the Democrat. Though, that’s mostly a meaningless statement, because Democrats focus more on alternative means of energy while GOP is more of a ‘drilldrilldrill’ focus. Different agendas.

    2. RKen,

      I agree... you've heard me talk about it before: pandering to the electorate with unreasonable, unrealistic, non-accomplisable (made up word, I know :-) ) promises is bad on both sides, and I agree, it's intolerable. Sadly, Americans just eat it up without thinking. They hear "oh, if we elect so-and-so we get $2.50 gas," or "wow, he will bring unemployment below 8.0% by the end of 2010" (had to use an example from either side), and it is bad. We are treated as dogs salivating for a treat and we don't question what is really happening... the promise-for-vote campaign.

      I am conservative and I believe in short-term AND long-term solutions living side by side. I want us to drill-drill-drill right now because that can help with short term supply/reduction of gas prices... AND, as we have seen with local and national economies... the influx of wealth from increased oil supplies is great and has worked wonders for economies... that return, that increase in capital can be used and put towards long-term energy solutions (as someone who studied nuclear engineering/nuclear power for four years, I heavily favor nuclear power). So, to me, a compromise would be to drill now, reduce our dependency on foreign oil, increase our oil supply and lower gas prices now to keep the economy going and then use the long term gain of this to invest in alternate energy solutions. Of course, if we have to contribute the returns from more drilling to simply paying down our debt, it would be all for naught. :-P

    3. LME,

      I'm actually on the same page. :) I agree with allowing more efforts to produce oil ourselves as, regardless of whether or not it could truly have any meaningful effect on gas prices, it can still create jobs, generate more in-house revenue, and help boost the economy. It won't save the day, as some may exaggerate, but every bit helps.

      And of course we can allow that while still putting emphasis on research/innovations that can reduce our demands for oil and/or develop cleaner or renewable forms of energy. And still keep the EPA. It doesn’t have to be one extreme or the other.

      My problem is just with the false promise of gas price control in doing any of that.

  3. Good morning RKen and 32slim32 and Happy Friday.

    I actually find myself agreeing with both of you, for the most part.

    RKen, yes, it is true... The president cannot control gas prices. It's that simple. No matter what he personally says, there is no greater force than supply and demand. I do respectfully disagree with this assumption, however: "Furthermore, producing more oil in America is more likely to increase the amount of gas exported than it is to increase the amounts we produce for ourselves." I'm not sure how to quantify that, but, I don't agree with that sentiment. Any increase in supply should help alleviate supply v. demand restrictions and I don't believe it's safe to assume it would instantly increase exports. Even if it did, that's actually a good thing... but again, I don't think the assumption can automatically be made.

    While I do agree with exactly what you said as far as the president not controlling gas prices, RKen, I do have to agree with 32slim32's mention that it was the democratic leadership that explicitly blamed Bush for the same problem 4 years ago. Now... does that make it right? No. Should we just forget about supply and demand and blame the president then and now? No. But, the case does exist where democrats did the same thing... and in my opinion, turnabout is fair play :-)

    To me, both good opinions and observations. All I know is, gas prices act as a "tax" on consumers, and, if they continue to be "high" (this is always relative), it could hurt our economy as we push through the summer.