Saturday, November 26, 2016

Is Obama a radical? or is he the Great Compromiser?

We progressives consider that Obama was a centrist democrat because
  1. He used a model for health care that was originally proposed by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. Liberals in the party wanted a single-payer universal health care, like those in England, France, Germany, and the Scandinavian countries. But the Democrats in Congress were blocked by a few conservatives in their party who refused to cooperate. Of course, none of the Republicans agreed to cooperate. The major problems with the ACA are caused by the refusal of Republican Governors and Health Care Corporations to cooperate with the program, which Obama considered a compromise that would be acceptable to all. But since the Heritage Foundation had made its proposal, the Republican Party had moved to the right so they were unwilling to accept any universal health care proposal.
  2. He refused to institute a carbon tax that would require carbon polluters to pay for the damage their actions were doing and would continue to do into the distant future. Republicans, who once had agreed that global warming was a problem of epic proportions, one that all mankind had to cooperate to ameliorate, had again moved to the right by denying that global warming existed or that the US should do anything at all to prevent its damage. In this opinion, the Republicans rejected the testimony of nearly all climate scientists. Again, there was no possibility for compromise with the Republican dead-enders. Your statement that Obama was the one who refused to cooperate beggars belief. It takes two parties to compromise, and the Republicans refused to compromise on this issue.
  3. Obama ended the credit crisis caused by Wall Street brokers during the Bush administration, but he did it by bailing out the banks who had caused the problem. None of the people responsible for the nearly catastrophic melt-down of our financial system lost their jobs or went to jail for what they did, the effects of which are still being felt today. Obama compromised plenty by putting Wall Street insiders in charge of the Treasury department. This compromise has led to a rollback of safeguards against another crash like the two that happened during the Bush regime. Notice that there were no crashes during the Obama administration, at least partly due to the moderate reforms he pursued. As sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, there will be another serious crash during the Trump administration because his advisors are the very people who profited from the last two and these greedy con artists would dearly like another shot at the big apple.
  4. Obama refused to institute marijuana reforms. The marijuana laws are laughable, since they state that marijuana, like heroin and cocaine, is addictive and has no legitimate medical value, regardless of the fact that millions of people world-wide are currently using marijuana to treat a number of chronic conditions. Since marijuana is known not be be physically addictive, the perpetrators of these laws had to make a new definition of addiction, one which would apply equally to coffee, aspirin, and numerous over-the-counter drugs that are actually more harmful to the population than marijuana.
  5. Obama said nothing about Americans’ addiction to sugar, even though research indicates that the dietary guidelines for sugar were written by the same man who falsified results to make it appear that cholesterol, not sugar, was responsible for increased risk of heart attacks, as well as the current epidemic of obesity.
  6. Obama made no plans for converting to a society without petroleum despite scientific agreement that oil will soon run out and that society is unprepared for a petroleum-free environment. While practically every other country in the world has reduced its petroleum use through taxation and regulation, the US policy under Obama was to continue allowing exploration and development of coal and oil while also providing moderate subsidies for clean energy. Once again, his position is a compromise between those who profit from the sale of oil and the environmental and health organizations that campaign against its use. Yet you say that Obama never compromises. I say that Obama compromises way too much, especially with those who actively seek to undermine sensible environmental policies.
  7. Obama did not move to reduce defense spending and wasteful spending on unnecessary weapons systems. Here again, no compromise position was ever offered by the right, despite the claims of tea party politicians that they opposed all government waste.
  8. Obama did not campaign strenuously against the disastrous Supreme Court ruling, Citizens United, that has led to unlimited spending by polluters, lobbyists, and financiers to buy a President and a congress who would not oppose them in any way. This was the single most disastrous “moderate” position that Obama took because it has led to exactly what people feared: enormous campaign spending by corporations and the wealthy, who now have bought control of both houses of congress and the Presidency.
  9. Obama also failed to campaign against gerrymandering and voter suppression laws, even though the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed many practices beloved by Republicans.
There are many other examples I could give where Obama was slow to propose progressive policies. It is meaningless to claim that he was more liberal than other presidents because times change and issues that are pressing today, like climate change and unlimited spending on elections, were not known to earlier presidents. I will note that Republican President Nixon proposed a guaranteed annual income and Bill Clinton proposed a universal health care act, so Obama was not more liberal on those issues.

But comparisons of this sort are meaningless because we need dynamic leadership to protect our workers from foreign competition and climate change. We certainly won’t get that from Trump, a dynamic leaders who doesn’t understand the foreign policy initiatives of the past 50 years and who appoints extreme right-wingers and fringe politicians to his cabinet. Obama, lest you forget, appointed a republican as his Defense Secretary. But I guess you don’t count that action as a sign that the man could have been called, The Great Compromiser.

Peak Oil Production: What is it and when is it?

How can we tell when peak oil has been reached?

We can't tell by the price, either by the barrel or at the pump.

The price of oil in the US is kept artificially low.
  1. Oil companies receive subsidies for exploration and drilling from the federal government.
  2. Much of the oil currently being harvested comes from oil leases on federally owned land. The price of these leases is kept low in what amounts to another subsidy granted to the oil companies. The rationale for this quasi-subsidy is that the oil belongs to the nation and the government should not profit (very much) from its sale. This oil belongs to the nation, however, and not to the oil companies, who should pay full price, with the proceeds going to federal programs or income tax rebates.
  3. The price of oil does not reflect the actual cost of burning the fuel in the air. This cost should include the cost of disease caused by inhalation of toxic chemicals as well as the cost to clean up the environment after oil spills. Note that it is not possible to entirely clean up the environment, since oil is persistent in the environment and does not readily degrade. The cost of global warming caused by the oil burned should also be included in the cost of the oil.
  4. Tar sand deposits yield a low grade of petroleum, but it comes at a high cost because the deposits must be heated before it can be refined. In Canada, this is accomplished using natural gas that otherwise would go to waste since it is too expensive to remove from the site of its extraction.
Regardless of the price reductions caused by these factors, the price of oil, like temperature in a warming atmosphere, does not rise evenly at all times. The price of a barrel of oil rose to $140 during the last recession in 2008, but fell rapidly within 6 months to just $40 a barrel as a result of low demand.

A condition deemed critical to the price of oil is “Peak Oil”, when oil production has reached its highest level. Some estimates suggest that peak oil has already passed, possibly in 2014, but experts disagree both on when peak oil will be reached and what the consequences will be.
One of the conclusions reached by Matthew Simmons, who predicted that peak oil would come in 2007–2009, is that
"peaking is one of these fuzzy events that you only know clearly when you see it through a rear view mirror, and by then an alternate resolution is generally too late."
If the world’s top experts can’t enlighten us better than that, our own understandings about peak oil and what we should do to prepare for it must remain a matter of individual choice. This alone is clear: Peak oil is coming and it will bring great changes with it.
My sources for this post are

Peak oil - Wikipedia
US Cost to Produce Oil Is $36 a Barrel
Gas prices around the world 2016 | Statista