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The Petroleum Tax

January 21, 2015

American Capitalism is an economic complex of Rube Goldberg machines, of systems and testicles, tentacles and assholes. 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.

Now, one of the biggest factors in bringing more jobs back is our commitment to American energy.  The all-of-the-above energy strategy I announced a few years ago is working, and today, America is closer to energy independence than we’ve been in decades.

One of the reasons why is natural gas – if extracted safely, it’s the bridge fuel that can power our economy with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change.  Businesses plan to invest almost $100 billion in new factories that use natural gas.  I’ll cut red tape to help states get those factories built, and this Congress can help by putting people to work building fueling stations that shift more cars and trucks from foreign oil to American natural gas.  My administration will keep working with the industry to sustain production and job growth while strengthening protection of our air, our water, and our communities.  And while we’re at it, I’ll use my authority to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations. ~ Barack Obama

Rube Goldberg couldn’t have dreamt up that one and neither could P.T. Barnum. “I’m going to promote more drilling and protect the environment” not unlike cutting taxes on whiskey while promoting temperance! American energy, aka natural gas and fracking , and the President, believes this congress should get off the dime and help the world’s wealthiest corporations to build natural gas fueling stations for you to use. Ah, truly a President with vision. Natural gas cars and trucks will cut fuel emissions and guarantee the safety of the world’s largest monopoly. While the rest of the world moves towards solar, wind and geothermal energy, this President stands at the school house door shouting petroleum now, petroleum forever!

Ideologically, I don’t care what he thinks, but when he says “cut red tape” he means use natural gas or no tax breaks. Tax dollars steered by an energy policy, funded by tax payers fed a steady diet of petroleum propaganda. The European Union states signed a binding agreement to generate 21% of their electricity through renewable means by 2020. The results have been mixed, but far from disappointing.

Germany 22%

Italy 25%

Portugal 50%

The tiny nation of Scotland has opted out of Obama’s oilarama projecting 100% energy production from clean safe renewable energy by 2020.

The US target is 20%… someday. (No time limit)

Paying the petroleum tax over and over, dimming vision while holding the economy and the government in a choke hold. Defending the gaslight and the wood stove against the future, spending billions (billed to you) trying to squeeze another mile or two from the old iron horse. Innovation goes elsewhere, the future goes elsewhere. Running in a hamster wheel, crashing into the design wall, turning the gears backwards, trying to make the wheel move forward, fighting for lower emission standards, rather than fighting to eliminate them, to protect the oiligarchy’s needs over the needs of the people and the planet, simply for more money in their pockets.


About the author: David Glenn Cox is a senior staff writer for TLR and an award winning author and musician; he is the author of the novel, “The Servants of Pilate.” 



4 Responses to The Petroleum Tax

  1. David Cox on February 4, 2015 at 4:39 pm


  2. JasonR on February 3, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    Congress needs to scientifically asses the effects of fracking. I’m guessing the Department of Interior and the EPA have already collected significant data, but any congressional committee, as long as they are chaired by Republicans, will block or make a circus of anything produced by scientists that could interfere with the profits of corporate American. They will always serve the money interests. Show me an example of when they don’t. And the Dems? They will mostly serve corporate interests. But not always! That’s why we still have an EPA, FDA, etc.

    • David Cox on February 4, 2015 at 4:37 pm

      The FDA is subsidized by Big Pharma, it’s the 1930′s all over again. The drug companies get rubber stamp approval after big pharma runs it’s own tests. It was Obama who blocked the EPA in the oil spill in the Gulf taking oil company estimates for the size of the spill.

  3. liberalvoice on February 3, 2015 at 6:10 pm

    It’s American Capitalism. No need to check with the people; they’re tuned into Fox News so they won’t even notice that we’re falling behind in alternative and green energy innovation and development. You’re right on. As Chomsky said, all the crucial decisions are made by corporations. You don’t have to look far for proof of that proposition.

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