Categorized | USA

obama ends oil subsidies


Very clever of Obama. Get on the television and issue a couple comforting bromides about the difficulties the good ‘ole American people are going through because of pump prices averaging $3.90 a gallon. Pass the burden of blame onto Congress. Blather about the state “subsidies” to the oil companies to the tune of 4 billion dollars a year. Claim that those companies should definitely have the right to profit — as chief reverend in the Church of American Capitalism Obama always has to include a paean to profit in his sermons. And then note that the government need not subsidize their excess profits, in the process managing quite smartly to ideologically oppose “wasteful” government spending thereby trying to co-opt the anti-state agenda, and in practice oppose some tiny little bit of wasteful government spending, enfolding good-governance neo-liberals, while muffling the real problem: oil prices are at 113 dollars a barrel and $3.90 at the pump because our corporations are robbing us blind with the excuse of “instability” in the Middle East, instability they systemically foster through American violence in the region.

Perhaps the Nation magazine will have a little squib about how Obama is finally mustering up the courage to confront his corporate funders, making good on the hopes for messianic redemption which the southern Manhattan lower-upper middle class had invested in him. It’s like a thief placating you by giving you a few pennies back for every dollar he steals from you.

Meanwhile the oil majors’ net profits were at 38 billion for Q1:

O Right, the rest of the fireside chat. Obama makes sure to clarify to Conoco and Exxon that he is not “opposed to producing oil.” Of course not, not when the oil companies shovel campaign donations into his war chest. Producing oil should simply occur in the context of investing in “clean energy”; another job requirement of the Blatherer-in-Chief is the ability to hold two contradictory ideas in your head at the same time. In this case, that means holding oil consumption and so carbon emissions steady by off-shoring filthy manufacturing to China while at the same time simultaneously transforming young American men into corpses and oil into gold, through the alchemy of stratospheric oil price increases. The result is the further destruction of the social fabric of the country, in whose worn threadbare patches Sara Palin and Xymphora can find a secure spot to ponder the provenance of Obama’s birth certificate and wonder whether Dennis Ross is an Israeli agent, an Israeli spy, or (perish the thought) simply a typical bottom-feeder agent of capital and empire.

Does this seem wise? Of course not. It’s based on the fantasy that we can maintain a civilization built on artificially cheap carbon emissions by slowly plopping green energy projects in place of the carbon-spewers we now use to create energy and building hybrid vehicles to make up the difference while Capitalism gives equal space in newspaper articles about global warming to fake science crapped out by petroleum industry-funded think tanks and mainstream scientists calmly informing us that the world is burning.

Of course, before getting to the question of what an ecologically sound political program would look like for a non-existent left, we have the problem of actually building that left. To that end, we have the ordinarily on-target Robin Yassin-Kassab, taking a bunch of pot-shots at an amorphous and currently non-existent phantasm known as “the Western left,” and advising this left by way of the actually existing British left that “Libya is not Iraq. The left fears it might be because the left has an oil obsession,” as opposed to the US government, which pays no attention to the proceeds from black gold. Righto. Concerning reality, which has to be the starting point for both analysis and actually building a left, in response to the turmoil in Libya it seems that Saudi Arabia has actually slowed down or stopped its production increases, helping to push oil prices higher and higher. It’s just coincidence that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is our major ally in the region, right, and that it just happens to systematically pursue policies that fatten the pockets of XOM and the financial firms that manage Saudi investments, correct?

However, increases in oil prices rack other sectors of the economy, part of why growth decreased, and perhaps part of why within the next couple of elections there’s a good shot of a “rogue” candidate using independent sources of wealth to pull American forces back and re-entrench American expansion. We will likely see such a rogue candidate, but I am not sure he’ll win, given the inability of the American ruling class to conceive of its interests in the long-run manner that the post-WWII planners envisioned post-war hegemonic planning, not unrelated to the environment crisis within which carbon civilization is mired. Does that matter to Palestine, finally? For sure. working towards a free Palestine means also working towards a world in which a free Palestine isn’t unlivable due to ecological degradation and climate change.

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