Today I was at the gym and I glimpsed some interesting news on CNN (it's really odd, the only time I ever watch CNN is at the gym--I belong to two gyms and they both show CNN--why is that?). It seems that Barack Obama has changed courses and now supports offshore drilling.
In contrast to CNN and most corporate media outlets, I will analyze this news from two points of view. First I will analyze it from a policy point of view. Then I will analyze it from a political point of view. Then I might go back and analyze it from a policy point of view again.
First, expanding offshore drilling is a terrible idea. The main argument by the proponents is that the price of oil (and thus gasoline) is too high right now. The high prices are hurting the American consumer who is also being squeezed by the housing crisis. All that is true. They then argue that allowing offshore drilling will reduce gas prices by increasing supply. I am not convinced that the drilling will reduce prices quickly enough to help consumers and even if it did, the environmental consequences wouldn't be worth the oil.
How is it possible that drilling offshore wouldn't really help consumers. Two words: Chevy Volt. It takes about 4 to 5 years to build an offshore oil rig and a decade or more of geologic exploration before construction can start. The Chevy Volt goes into production in 2010. When everyone is driving a plug in hybrid, we won't need more oil. In fact, some longer term investments in oil producing infrastructure may actually lose money. It is true that the offshore drilling will help consumers somewhat in the medium term, but not one bit in the short term. And isn't the proposal to allow drilling a reaction to short term economic pain?
Besides, if consumers are still so reliant on internal combustion for ground transportation that they need more oil production 20 years from now than they do today, then the planet is FUKT. F-U-K-T FUKT. Someday I will get deeper into the science behind global warming, but for now, let me just say that greenhouse gases are recycled very slowly by the Earth. This means that the Earth will continue to get warmer decades after we stop emitting greenhouse gases (the jusry is still somewhat out on this one, but chances are it'll take a while to cool off). This will lead to flooding, pestilence, and droughts. Think that ought to concern the 155.2 million Americans living on the coast?
Well, it doesn't. [Now we get to politics] According to Gallup, only 37% of Americans worry about climate change much. And thus, 69% of Americans favor offshore drilling even though alternative technologies could ease the energy burden on Americans faster (and as I've stated before, lowering income and capital gains taxes while implementing carbon taxes would spur the economy--not harm it). So although I am not pleased with Barack's decision, I do understand that a controversial candidate in a tight race can't afford to side against 70% of the American public on an issue (energy prices) that is number #2 behind the economy in general. grumble ... grumble ... wish he had stuck to his guns ... grumble ... grumble.
Which brings me to my next question. Is the American public too stupid to be allowed to vote? I used to think that democracy was the greatest thing since sliced bread (err ... I guess democracy predated sliced bread), but I am completely disillusioned. After 2000, when the American People elected a man whose grammar is almost as fucked up as his moral compass, I blamed it on the antidemocratic leanings of the Supreme Court. When 2004 came and the American People reelected the same poo flinger that lied to us and got us involved in a horrible quagmire in Iraq, I started to lose faith. The recent shortsightedness of the American Public has all but ruined my faith in them.
My wife says that democracy is a terrible idea and that benevolent dictatorship is the only answer. I think that's kind of risky ... isn't that what
kim jong-il claims to be?
She does however have another good idea. Let's bring back voting tests. I'm slightly leary. It seems that the poor uneducated proletariat might be severely disadvantaged by this. On the other hand, what have they done for themselves anyway? Another idea is to let experts in various fields (i.e. professors or Ph.D. holders) elect the higher ranks of some government agencies (i.e. the SEC, FDA, EPA, Justice Department, maybe FCC). This way at least those agencies--which do wield some policy--would not be filled with morons. The problem with that is that they might be beholden to rich corporation who dole out grant money and might file those agencies with corrupt sleaze bags (would that be much different?)
In conclusion: the unwashed masses are morons who can't be trusted to be from 32 ice cream flavors much less pick the most powerful person in the world. The best idea that I have heard to fix this is to not let them vote ... or at least make their votes count less.