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The Petroleum Tax

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American Capitalism is an economic complex of Rube Goldberg machines, of systems and testicles, tentacles and a**holes. The falling price of crude oil is proof positive enough, Obama's energy policy has got us moving down the right track" right? I mean, ain't it great? Cheap gas" goody! In exchange, we open up vast tracks of the American landscape to fracking. The argument goes: fracking done responsibly harms no one; while the other side warns of permanent environmental damage to our nation's aquifers.

The fracking boom has brought online thousands upon thousands of new wells, with dozens of small companies trying to make it big in the new oil boom. Then suddenly, this mysterious cheap gas phenomenon is pushing many of these small companies out of business with others to soon follow. So who gains from this?

These small companies developed the new wells, and now with OPEC's decision to maintain current production levels, the downward pressure on prices is bringing slaughter to the people who did the dirty work. The fruits of their labors picked up on the cheap by the big companies, as the ghost of John D. Rockefeller takes a face from the ancient gallery and walks on down the hall.

Stop me if you've heard this one before: the system engineers a boom and then the system engineers a bust. The Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005 stripped homeowners of protection, if they'd lived in their homes less than four years. The housing market booms, then suddenly, nearly four years to the month later" the market collapses. This time around it's the fracking companies' turn. You see that big ole free piece of cheese? You can have it you know, just walk over there where it sits on that shiny piece of metal and reach for it.

The President boasts of rising oil production (drill baby drill) with the same voice he scolds those caught in the trap, offering assistance only to "responsible" consumers. Turn the political crank and out comes a political crank, regardless of political winds or the shifting tides, America's one-party system elects another Oil President. You couldn't hope to be elected President without the support of the oil industry. So we debate the question of fracking only within the boundaries of pro or con, rather than of needed or not? But say, if we were to turn away from the internal combustion engine, fracking becomes a moot and pointless endeavor.

In 1816, the streets of Baltimore were lined with gaslights. The infrastructure was in place all across America's cities. These were responsible, mature companies who in their 19th Century naivety, forgot to seek political protection. Thomas Edison used the gaslight companies' business model to figure his pricing structure. Edison's D.C. current required local generation stations and the old man dreamed of becoming the mogul of electrical generation. Then along comes Tesla with his alternating current and ruined the old man's plan. Edison responded by creating the attack ad, putting on public demonstrations of the dangers of alternating current by electrocuting small animals.

The benefits of alternating current were so superior, Edison didn't stand a chance. Today in our neoliberal world, maybe D.C. could be workable, if enough money was spent in the right places. But that was then and this is now. America is the Saudi Arabia of solar power, if it wants to be and is the Kuwait of wind power, if it wants to be. Instead, we debate fracking and push for tougher emission standards and higher mileage standards in our efforts to defend the gaslight or in this case, the gas car, against an obviously superior system now in sight; neoliberal capitalism trying its best to save America from a brighter future with the petroleum tax.

You might not have heard of a TPMS sensor, they're on the wheels of all new cars. It's a tire pressure monitoring system to remind you slugs to check the air pressure in your tires, once in a while. They're mandated by law because if left to the free market consumer, they wouldn't sell any. A tire pressure monitoring system might be a good idea, but if it is a good idea, why can't they sell it? Using claims of public safety, Congress mandated the TREAD act. The shortcut cupcake sale complete, a new fifty million sensor market was born, forever and ever amen.

The chances a TPMS sensor will ever save your life or the lives of anybody you know is about the same as carrying an epinephrine pen around in your pocket will someday save your life. Now the use of TPMS sensors does allow car companies to claim higher fuel mileage for their vehicles. The new Ford F-150 boasts an aluminum body for lightness and TPMS sensors for a combined mileage of 22mpg. Twenty two miles per gallon in the second decade of the Twenty First Century, a direct fuel injected, computer controlled, catalytic system with a titanium converter and twenty two miles per gallon, is the best you can do? I wonder why? It's a petroleum tax, the inability to think past petroleum.

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I who am I? Born at the pinnacle of American prosperity to parents raised during the last great depression. I was the youngest child of the youngest children born almost between the generations and that in fact clouds and obscures who it is that (more...)

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