Sunday, December 7, 2014

Knaves Marching to War for Cheap Gas

The United States House of Representatives took ample camouflage in media coverage of the execution of black men by police officers and privileged "rape culture" this first week of December 2014 to pass one of the most ominous resolutions in recent memory: H.R. 758 which is the out-going Congress' near authorization for war against the Russian Federation.  In eight pages of inadmissible allegations reminiscent of our march to war in the Middle East, the House did about as much fact checking as Rolling Stones before coming to the conclusion that the U.S. should arm foreign interests with "lethal force" (something that this militarized administration seems to promulgate at every turn) against Russians and their leader, President Vladimir Putin. 

In the resolution, the majority of Congress stated that:

            "The Russian Federation is continuing to use its supply of energy as a means of political and economic coercion against Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, and other European countries;"


            "The Russian Federation has expanded the presence of its state-sponsored media in national languages across central and western Europe with the intent of using news and information to distort public opinion and obscure Russian political and economic influence in Europe."  

The various enumerated offenses allegedly justify the U.S. to "provide the Government of Ukraine with lethal and non-lethal defense articles" (§9) and provide, "distribution of news and information in the Russian language," (§20) to insure that our interests are foisted upon the region. 

Now the sophomoric propaganda war recommended by Congress in retaliation for an alleged Russian-led propaganda campaign would be easily dismissed if it were in isolation.  Ironically, the same Congress that decided to reach out to injured Ukrainian parties in the Russian language did precious little to educate its own democracy about its reckless behavior.  Obviously, the democratic contempt laid at the feet of Putin is exonerated by virtue of the nationality of the perpetrator.  If the U.S. Congress acts in the paternalistic interest of its citizens justifying its actions with false claims, it's apparently in our best interest. 

Let's examine the ruse that this resolution really seeks to mask.  The allegation that Russia is using its supply of energy as a means of political and economic coercion is dripping with contempt - a contempt celebrated by each holiday commuter who is relishing the irrational gas prices across the U.S.  And by the way, if you think for a moment that gas prices have anything to do with Alfred Marshall's laughable theory of supply and demand, think again. 

The Trilateral Commission 2013/2014 Task Force Report: Engaging Russia: A Return to Containment spells out a number of the underpinnings of what's happening at the pump.  In the report, the task force articulates the six vital and important national goals leading off with, "ensure a favorable balance of power in critical regions that enables continued U.S. global leadership."  Oil dropping below $70 / barrel hurts millions of people.  And any allegation that supply is the principle driver for this price is disingenuous and willfully misleading.  From the Trilateral Commission to the economists at every major banking institution, the real reason for oil's freefall is not even thinly veiled.  The economics are simple:  the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has sufficient financial asset reserves (over $750 billion) to weather a revenue shortfall while Russia - with the compounding effect of sovereign debt downgrade at a time of recapitalization, the capital flight post sanctions, and the approximately $370 billion in residual capital reserves - is likely to fall into desperation rather quickly.  Oh, and never mind the fact that our anti-Russian oil policy will harm Venezuela, Nigeria, and Iran who all have, of late, been rather critical of U.S. policy and intervention.  In other words, U.S. unilateral energy market manipulation will make winners out of our large shareholder, China (who is rapidly purchasing cheap oil for its strategic reserves) while harming those who don't subscribe to our hegemonic aspirations and our accommodation to our Chinese creditors. 

In the Cold War insanity of the 50s and 60s (which in part necessitated the formation of OPEC), this type of smokescreen geopolitical and economic manipulation was routine.  Born of Alfred Marshall's orthodoxy of supply and demand - a dynamic that enjoys promotion without empirical all-in-cost evidence - the public has been conscripted to play along with these shortsighted expeditions under the veneer of market dynamics.  But the same public fails to read and critique the very dogma that they've been taught to believe.  Marshall, in his own critique made the following observation.

"The modern era has undoubtedly given new openings for dishonesty in trade. The advance of knowledge has discovered new ways of making things appear other than they are, and has rendered possible many new forms of adulteration. The producer is now far removed from the ultimate consumer; and his wrong-doings are not visited with the prompt and sharp punishment which falls on the head of a person who, being bound to live and die in his native village, plays a dishonest trick on one of his neighbours. The opportunities for knavery are certainly more numerous than they were; but there is no reason for thinking that people avail themselves of a larger proportion of such opportunities than they used to do. On the contrary, modern methods of trade imply habits of trustfulness on the one side and a power of resisting temptation to dishonesty on the other, which do not exist among a backward people. Instances of simple truth and personal fidelity are met with under all social conditions: but those who have tried to establish a business of modern type in a backward country find that they can scarcely ever depend on the native population for filling posts of trust. It is even more difficult to dispense with imported assistance for work, which calls for a strong moral character, than for that which requires great skill and mental ability. Adulteration and fraud in trade were rampant in the middle ages to an extent that is very astonishing, when we consider the difficulties of wrong-doing without detection at that time."

So, you make the call.  This first week of December 2014, the U.S. House of Representatives has violated the opening premise of Alfred Marshall's Principles of Economics (1920).  In so doing, the U.S. has undermined its purported "strong moral character" needed to "avert adulteration and fraud".  In fact, it has solidified for itself the dubious distinction of actually placing at peril the lives and well-being of millions around the globe (to say nothing for the Texans and North Dakotans) who will pay in posterity for the boundless supply of contempt and arrogance in the face of a silent, non-existent demand for accountability and leadership from an hypnotized public.  Paying $2.50 at the pump is not only bad for the global balance of power but it is also an act of aggression (if not outright war).  We'll still frack and shale our way to an euphemistic "energy independence" and will enjoy the celebrated economic stimulus associated therewith.  But, when we pay with blood and treasure in the Black and Caspian Sea and when we drive our SUVs to protest aggression in the South China Sea, remember this cheap Christmas and realize that when the math doesn't add up, it's because we're not counting everything.  And this time around, it's all visible for the counting.


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Thank you for your comment. I look forward to considering this in the expanding dialogue. Dave