Friday, November 11, 2011

What is the 99% upset about?

There has been a movement afoot lately called "Occupy". As you know this group has been organizing people to stage demonstrations on Wall St. and in the business districts of major cities in this country. The "occupy" movement seems to suffer from the lack of a single coherent message however. Instead the participants voice a general dissatisfaction with the way things in this country have been going. I would like to point out one instance of the kind of thing that I think is causing this dissatisfaction.
A couple weeks ago Canadian regulators gave the go ahead to a project to export Liquid Natural gas from a port in British Columbia. Last May U.S. authorities o'kayed a plan to export LNG from Louisiana. Most of these exports will be to Asia. Natural gas prices have plummeted in the last 3 years as new technology has made the gas more recoverable. Estimates of U.S. natural gas reserves now give us decades of plentiful energy if we choose to use it. Today, as I write this, the price of crude oil is $97 a barrel. We all know what the high price of oil does to the economy. Automobiles and trucks are easily converted to natural gas.
A very large part of the trade deficit in this country is due to imported oil. The trade deficit is a large part of what makes the U.S. dollar weak, and a weak currency makes everything more expensive. And the countries that we buy oil from do not always have the best interests of this country in mind. Not to mention our need to act as policeman in the Middle East.
Yet, the lawmakers in this country would rather let private interests export our natural resources while the rest of us import high priced energy to burn in our cars. A carefully fostered sense of distrust of government has been put over on the American people. Many in the public arena have taken up the chorus of "government is bad". I believe that many in big business have supported this campaign against "big government". But private enterprise will not undertake the job of converting the U.S. from oil to natural gas without incentives from the government. And the government is us. The 99 percent!
The availability of energy is what powers our economy. The cheaper the energy the easier it is to produce the things that make life comfortable. Yet the powers that be choose to allow our cheap energy to be sold to China. Again, the private interests trump the public interest.
This is one example of the kind of thing that makes Americans wonder just who is in charge.

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