Drilling is a win, win choice for U.S.
Obama’s opposition seems based more on faith than facts
When the summer driving season starts soon, and tension heats up about Iran, gas may reach $5 a gallon. Nothing bothers voters more than paying an extra $20 or $30 every time they fill up. In times like these, they soon might prefer even an oilman in the White House to an ideologue whose opposition to new oil development seems more religious than empirically based.
All presidents, of course, usually get the blame when the price of gas skyrockets and praise when it plummets, just like they own a bad or good economy, or a successful or failed war.
President Obama, however, earns additional blame for the gas rise for reasons well beyond the normal oil bogeymen — tension in the Middle East, rapacious OPEC dictators, oil company greed and Wall Street speculation.
Why? Americans remember that his team boasted about wanting higher energy costs in 2008, when Mr. Obama was still basking in hopeand-change adulation. Steven Chu, then the energy secretary-designate who doesn’t own a car, pontificated about wanting higher American gasoline prices, hoping they would somehow reach European levels.
Candidate Obama breezily warned of skyrocketing energy prices — the necessary cost of his planned cap-and-trade, anti-globalwarming legislation.
Sen. Kenneth L. Salazar, Colorado Democrat who was soon to become Interior secretary, bragged that even if gas reached $10 a gallon, he would not vote to open up new federal offshore oil leases.
Once upon a time, Mr. Obama and his supporters believed that high gas and oil prices were either helpful in ensuring that favored subsidized green energies would be cost competitive, or that they helped the environment. That’s why a now-embarrassed Mr. Obama digs in by mocking opponents who call for increased drilling.
A president, so Mr. Obama claims, has little control over gas prices. New domestic supplies of oil would not come on the market for years. Americans consume a quarter of the world’s oil supplies while possessing only 2 percent of global reserves. In a global oil market, additional American drilling would not make that much of a price difference.
All of these claims are either flat wrong or misleading.
Presidents can affect gas prices, at least in the long term, by exercising budgetary discipline resulting in a currency that buys more oil per dollar, by approving or rejecting federal oil leases, and by adding or curbing regulations that affect oil exploration and development. In all of these cases, Mr. Obama has supported policies that contribute to higher gas prices.
The point about the lag time between finding and pumping oil is valid. But that reality is precisely why presidents must green-light exploration for future generations — and why Mr. Obama is now bragging of record U.S. production only because of his predecessor’s granting of federal oil leases. Mr. Obama’s “it takes too long” argument is absurd — as if farmers should never plant new orchards because they won’t see fruit on their trees for three years or more.
Mr. Obama’s knowledge of U.S. reserves is 20 years out of date. In the first three years of his administration alone, new finds offshore — in Alaska, in the Gulf of Mexico, and in unexpected places such as North Dakota, Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio — have revolutionized America’s energy future in ways undreamed of just a few years ago. We probably have 100 years of natural gas supplies at present rates of consumption and could cut our imported oil by 50 percent in a few years.
Even Mr. Obama does not believe his own dismissals of the role of global supply and demand in setting energy prices. In a tight world oil market, just a few million more barrels a day produced anywhere — or even the indication that a major producer such as America might soon put 2 million or 3 million more barrels a day on the market — can help stabilize prices. That’s why Mr. Obama is considering tapping oil daily from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve while asking the Saudis to pump a little more. Does the president believe that more foreign or previously pumped oil would lower world prices in a way newly pumped domestic oil would not?
Technologies such as fracking and horizontal drilling have made it possible for Americans to produce their own oil and gas as never before. We can pump oil with less environmental damage than can Venezuela, Mexico and Nigeria. New domestic production would save a near-bankrupt America billions of dollars currently being lost in import costs while cutting security expenses in deploying forces to the Middle East.
New oil development will create thousands of jobs, worry speculators that America will soon release lots of oil on the world market, and provide a window to produce alternative energies without slapdash, Solyndra-like boondoggles.
Drilling is a win, win and win choice — and so known to everyone except the president and his shrinking number of reactionary advisers, who prefer green faith to hard science.
NEW YORK — From coast to coast, politicians want to hike the minimum wage. New York State legislators aim to lift it from $7.25 to $8.50 per hour. California lawmakers are weighing a boost from $8 to $8.50.
Ralph Nader recently urged the Occupy movement to demand that the federal floor increase from $7.25 to $10.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney told CNBC’S Larry Kudlow on March 6, “There’s probably not a need to raise the minimum wage.” In January, however, Gov. Etch-a-sketch said he would “allow the minimum wage to rise with the CPI [Consumer Price Index] or with another index so that it adjusts automatically over time.”
Tragically, these proposals don’t go far enough.
What America needs is the economic equivalent of a 24-hour energy drink. Why not a $100-an-hour minimum wage?
If every worker legally were guaranteed this amount, just imagine the possibilities:
Assuming 52 weeks of labor at 40 hours each, every American would earn at least $208,000 annually.
This sum literally would move the typical American from rank-and-file to rich. Today’s $40,584 average individual income would quintuple. Why? Because Washington said so. Rather than a nation in which the top 1 percent fears the rage of the 99 percent, Americans could live harmoniously as 100 percent of workers would occupy, at worst, the top 3 percent. Thus, the Class War would conclude peacefully after it barely began.
Even greater benefits would flow like honey, if not like pancake syrup.
With at least $208,000 to spend annually, each worker could buy tons of luxury goods. Tiffany’s, Nordstrom’s, and Coach Stores could stay open 24/7 as hundreds of millions of Americans suddenly could afford their previously pricey products. The Four Seasons could fill every suite. And the airlines could add extra firstclass seats, since traveling up front would become affordable for everyone with a paycheck.
This super stimulus would propel America’s GDP to Himalayan heights. A $100-per-hour minimum wage would give America’s 133 million workers at least $27.7 trillion in combined buying power — every year!
Of course, this figure will climb even higher as this hefty new wage inspires virtually everyone not working to flood the labor market. With all the money that employers will make in increased sales, it will be a snap for them to hire America’s 12.8 million jobless people, at a minimum cost of some $2.7 trillion annually. At long last, this will end — not mend — unemployment.
And consider the windfall for the government! The U.S. tax code establishes a 33 percent tax rate on everyone earning $208,000. Irrespective of deductions, this would translate into roughly $9.1 trillion of income tax revenues every year. This Niagara Falls of cash could help Uncle Sam pay his bills. Bye bye, national debt!
Now, some party poopers might argue that the government has no right to tell employers how much to pay their employees. However these naysayers forget that the minimum-wage law says nothing about how much to pay, just how little. Employers certainly could pay employees more than $100 per hour.
Others may wonder where employers would find the money to finance this modest proposal. This question is impertinent and perhaps a little bit racist. Far worse, it lacks imagination. After all, imagination settled the American West, whisked Americans to the moon, and even invented StrawberryDaiquiri Jell-o. Where there’s a will, Americans find a way.
Amid such myopia, simply listen to George Bernard Shaw. As he famously put it: “You see things; and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not?’” With words like that, who needs a magic wand?
A $10 or even $12 hourly minimum wage represents the kind of small-mindedness that subverts the American Experience. $100 an hour reflects the boldness that built these United States. And just imagine the beauty of a $1,000-an-hour minimum wage.
Come on, America. Think big. Think really, really big!