Our Use of Oil Subverts Freedom

I recently read this tidbit about a “legal case” in Saudi Arabia. A Shiite woman who was sexually assaulted by a group of 6 Sunni men was herself sentenced to 90 lashes of the whip for putting herself into the situation and therefore tempting the men (the men were also sentenced to jail terms). What is wrong with Arab culture? In Arab culture, people, mostly men, are not expected to be responsible for their own actions. In Arab culture, it is considered a plausible defense to overt aggression against others that the victim somehow tempted the aggressor to the act. Perhaps Arab men have a deep inferiority complex of some sort. Perhaps there is a tendency for Arab men to have little tiny yards so they worry that they cannot keep their women happy without having the state dictate that women are to be imprisoned in their homes, able to move only with the assistance of their brothers or husbands, like a prisoner traveling in a squad car.

It really makes me very angry to see those who promote this kind of statist and oppressive government accumulating ever more wealth at our expense and recycling that wealth into ownership of key assets in our economy (i know I should be happy that they do because it keeps our current account deficit from creating problems and keeps our capital markets healthy, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it). The Middle East is a major locus of dollar reserves abroad because we and others keep sending them so much money for oil purchases. How much? This page at the US Government agency that tracks such things, the Energy Information Association or EIA (oil traders are of course familiar with the EIA, which releases the much watched inventory information on Wednesdays), lists how much we import from various countries. We import roughly 2/3 of the oil we use every day. Note that as I am writing, for the first 9 months of 2007, Saudi Arabia ranks third on this list of oil exporters to the US with around 1.4 Million barrels of oil a day.


So at $90 per barrel that means we alone send the Saudi royal family about $130 Million per day, $50 Billion per year, roughly $5 Million per hour, every hour, 24/7, 365 days a year. Now you can look here, to see that Saudi exports to the US are only about 16% of their exports. Their total exports are about 8.651 Million barrels per day. So the Saudi royal family, at $90 per barrel, rakes in $800 Million per day, nearly $300 Billion per year, or roughly $30 Million per hour, every hour, 24/7, 365 days a year. And that is just the Saudis. That doesn’t include the rest of the despicable people who are raking in this money, and there are plenty of them. So because we depend so heavily on oil to power our economy, a single family is able to run a country of 27 million people as their own private little cult, which happens to be called Wahhabism (Whabbism), and which implements Sharia law, which calls, among other things, for women to be treated as chattel, or is so interpreted by their culture today.

Oil is a fungible commodity, but because we use so much from whatever the source, it supports the market, which supports regimes such as the one in Saudi Arabia, which supports – indeed mandates by law – a fanatical religious cult, which ultimately threatens our way of life, and with whom we do not share similar values. It is a direct link.

If we really want to promote freedom and squelch statists, misogynists and fanatics worldwide, then rather than spending trillions of dollars fighting wars abroad against non-state foes, we could probably put a fraction of these massive public resources into relegating oil to as small a portion of our energy needs as possible. This approach runs counter to deeply ingrained beliefs in our domestic culture. The market has heretofore appropriately dictated how our energy needs are met. Petroleum has been cheap and so has been the most efficient way to power our economy. And this is a good thing.

But I believe we are at a critical point in history that suggests strongly that we need a program similar to putting a man on the moon; that would use public resources to hasten the technological advances that will allow the world to stop sending so much money to people with whom we do not share values and who directly sponsor those who wish to actually kill us. Make no mistake, our dependence on petroleum is itself the biggest threat to our national security. Even if 99% of the money were wasted, if it results in technology allowing us to reduce our reliance on these people, it would be money well spent.

This program should have elements of the X-Prize or the Methuselah Prize. It does not have to be exclusively direct payments to corporations or universities, though we will need plenty of that as well. We can spend $200 Billion a year on this and still have it be money better spent than liberating Afghanistan or Iraq. Better yet, the money will spread to better uses than pure military spending is spread and can kick-start many small companies that will be tomorrow’s giants.

In the meantime, maybe we should pass a law that prohibits male visitors from ridiculous statist Arab theocracies, including Saudi princes, from stepping out in public in the United States unless they are covered from head to toe in a burqa, and accompanied by a female escort, which could be their wife or sister. Make it a condition of their entrance visa. Sounds good to me.

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