Sunday, January 01, 2006

The Giant Slurping Sound that Bush Can't Hear

Remember Ross Perot? Some of his greatest contributions to America came in the form of new vernacular. Single handedly he improved the expressiveness of the English language with such classics as "fuzzy math" and "giant sucking sound." The latter expressed what Perot believed we would hear if the U.S. passed the North American Free Trade Agreement:the sound of American manufacturing jobs being sucked across the border to Mexico. In hindsight, it was the suck heard 'round the world as manufacturing jobs poured into China from the U.S., Europe, the Middle East, and even Mexico.

Today I'm not gong to debate whether the global economy is a good thing or a bad thing for America. I do, however, want to acknowledge the impact of the Giant Slurping Sound coming from the far east. That is, the sound of China sucking up an ever increasing amount of the world's oil supply.

China's economy is exploding and so is their demand for oil to keep it humming along. Securing oil for their soaring economy and increasingly affluent masses is tremendously important to China, so say the Chinese. China's reliance on net oil import has grown to 11.5 percent from 0.45 percent reported in 1993. The International Energy Agency has predicted China will have to import half of all the oil needed to fuel ts economy by 2010, and the percentage will soar to 60 percent by 2020. It makes sense that the Chinese would try to spend some of their dollar cash horde to acquire energy assets overseas, such as Unocal, to make certain their economy continues to grow.

How does a thirsty China bode for America, who is already the largest single importer of the world's oil? And now with Russia firmly in control of Gazprom and apparently very willing to flex its new energy muscles (as we are witnessing today with Ukraine), the U.S. is standing naked on the world energy stage without a comprehensive energy strategy, ready to ravage any pristine natural resource that holds any small promise to yield a drop of oil. In the three months since Katrina exposed the weakness of our weak gasous underbelly, the initial furor has subsided -- $2.25 per gallon now seems cheap and is accepted.

If you thought $3/gallon was high, just wait until the Chinese economy really gets cooking. We ain't seen nothing yet.

Bush has missed his defining moment. He had the chance to go down in history as one of the great presidents. He could have put a stake in the ground to challenge Americans to move away from fossil fuels in the same monumental way that JFK did when he challenged Americans to undertake the impossible task of putting a human on the moon.

Unless he begins to quickly show some leadership on energy and global warming and unrestrained spending, GWB's legacy will be a bankrupt America, bereft of political clout and a ravaged environment.

This would not be the America that I wish to hand off to my children.


Daro said...

Hey, caught your tag from your comment at Just to play devil's advocate...
Reading your piece on oil, isn't the game of Capitalism a "three card monty" then? The premise: if you work hard then you can make it. Except... there isn't enough to go around globally for everyone to have a nice home and a 2 car family. If you just add China to the equation it already overcooks the global books. How do we explain this to the other 50% of the planet's population? Is over-population now the greatest sin to mankind? There's not a single religious tract that covers this one (or is there?)

NYC Educator said...

I don't think Bush missed his definging moment at all. Unfortunately, it's likely to be his decision to start an economically crippling war with a country that did not attack us, and to do so concurrently with huge tax cuts that further enhanced its effect.

Alan said...

Well, the Iraq debacle surely isn't just about oil in the long term. It's also about maintaining a military foothold in the region in the form of forward bases, i.e., assets deployed forward from the homeland (whenever I hear that word it somehow sounds sinister, like the Nazis talking about the "homeland") to bases in the Iraqi desert ready to deploy further from there. $1 billion a day to keep the whole shebang going in Iraq? That's chump change compared to what it'll cost the Bush follow-ons to keep it going long term. I'm almost disappointed that gas prices didn't stay up at the $3 mark and beyond. There was a certain thrill to watching others panic at the gas station by filling their lawn tractor fuel cans. The ignorance on peak oil in this country is astounding. It's almost as if Amuricans believe there really is some giant nougant of oil deep within the Earth from which petro will flow forever to their favorite gas station/convenience store.
Thanks for checking in at my simple little blog.

Scott said...

Great comments. Thanks, and God bless.

Blue Chip said...

Thanks for posting on the blog Scott. Here's an article I referenced in a previous post. I love how China's released report sounds "nice" and "cooperative" but kind of has threatening undertones that send the message of "cooperate or else..."

China Eyes More Energy Cooperations With US

BEIJING - China and the United States should increase co-operation on energy issues ranging from crude oil production overseas to civilian nuclear programs, China's top economic planning body said in a statement on its Web site. Co-operation should be deeper and more efficient, with priority placed on promoting stability in producing nations and secure oil shipping lanes, the National Development and Reform Commission said. The world economy would benefit if China has secure energy supplies, but U.S. concerns about the rise of China's fast-growing economy could lead to restrictive legislation, the commission added.