On March 15, 2006, I posted the following article on this blog. Not a single word needs to be changed today, more than two years later, because it describes the identical travesty of ignorant and dishonest United States Senators heaping blame on others for the consequences of their own reckless and destructive policies.
In an article titled “A Senate Panel Interrogates Wary Oil Executives” today’s New York Times reports that “The nation’s top oil executives were called before Congress again yesterday to defend their industry’s…record profits, in the face of public outrage over high oil and gasoline prices.”
…. I titled this article “In the U.S. Senate the Guilty Interrogate the Innocent.” A more complete title would be “In the U.S. Senate, Senators Serving the OPEC Cartel Interrogate American Energy Producers Whom They Prevent from Breaking that Cartel.” How do U.S. Senators, and the whole US government, do this? They do it by preventing the expansion in domestic oil production that could take place in Alaska, offshore on the continental shelf, and in the vast territories that have arbitrarily been set aside as wildlife preserves and wilderness areas and closed to oil drilling. They also do it by preventing the construction of new atomic power plants and by impeding the mining of coal and the development of additional supplies of natural gas.
Larger supplies of domestically produced oil would increase the world supply of oil and drive down its price. And they could do so very dramatically, because just as a few percent decrease in the supply of oil is capable of increasing its price by a multiple of several times that few percent, so a few percent increase in the supply of oil would work just as powerfully in the opposite direction.
At the same time, the availability of larger supplies of atomic power, coal, and natural gas, would reduce the demand for oil, since the additional supplies of these fuels would replace oil to an important extent. The oil no longer needed by an electric utility, for example, because that utility would now use atomic power or burn coal, that oil would have to find some alternative use, and to open up that use its price would have to be substantially lower.
Our government’s policy of preventing the increase in the supply of oil, atomic power, coal, and natural gas, is what is responsible for the high prices of oil and gasoline that we must now pay. Let it just get out of the way, and the supply of all these forms of energy will dramatically increase and the price of oil and gasoline will fall, even more dramatically.
Every senator who votes to place obstacles in the way of U.S. energy production, who helps to harass U.S. energy producers, is voting to hamper OPEC’s most important competitors and to allow OPEC to go on obtaining high prices. Such senators are the ones who bear responsibility for the high price of oil and gasoline. They are senators serving OPEC not the American people.
They are the ones who deserve to be interrogated, in order to learn how they could be so blind, so stupid, and so destructive.
This article is copyright © 2008, 2006, by George Reisman. George Reisman, Ph.D. is the author of Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics (Ottawa, Illinois: Jameson Books, 1996) and is Pepperdine University Professor Emeritus of Economics. Copyright © 2008, by George Reisman.