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Gas prices – what’s the right strategy for the Dems?

Jerome a Paris, Daily Kos
….I’d like to argue that Dems must, today, argue for a gas tax, and own it.

…to show that we recognise the problem, and actually have a realistic solution. Otherwise, the “solution” will be fewer restrictions on drilling, more pollution by coal, more subsidies for big oil, nuclear and other utilities, and more wars in the Middle East.

As you know, Energize America (a new draft will come out next week) has proposed a regularly increasing gas tax as part of its package, as a way both to get gas consumption down and to finance the rest of the package. If, as we intend to, we push this with Democrat politicians, it can only be done with the gas tax acknowledged and promoted. We will sell it only if we are not ashamed of the message it conveys.

Taxes are not evil, they pay for vital services to the population, and for vital functions of the government. Energy is the biggest issue of out times (what do you think Iraq and Iran are about?), and the US government has to act in ways that actually work, and has to have the means to do so. Piling on debt for future generations to pay is NOT RESPONSIBLE.

As you will see from the models we’ll present within Energize America, Americans will actually benefit from the gas tax rapidly, thanks to lower energy consumption.
(19 April 2006)
More on the gas tax from Jerome: Loser?.

Getting serious about energy

Cal Thomas,
…No study or special commission is needed to understand the root cause of growing energy costs. We’ve known it for years. Demand fuels cost. While there have been numerous efforts to curb demand or seek alternative energy sources since the 1973 Arab oil boycott, which began the escalation of gas prices, none has taken hold because the price always fell back to acceptable levels. From solar power, to windmills, to today’s hybrid cars, nothing seems to have caught on sufficiently to force us to change our oil consuming ways.

Here’s something that will: an enemy.

…It is going to take an enemy to break our oil addiction. The perfect enemy is the oil-producing states with a track record for funding terrorism and whose brand of religion produces young fanatics determined to destroy the West.

If we can get to the moon, virtually from scratch and in just eight years, we can become independent of the mullahs, ayatollahs, sheiks, imams and whackos like the president of Iran and assorted other world criminals who hate us and want to destroy us. This will call for strong leadership from President Bush and future presidents, regardless of party.

…Americans have always responded to major threats and challenges. Properly framed, they could be made to understand this threat as the greatest challenge the nation has ever faced. To become energy independent and no longer rely on foreign oil would be like depriving Dracula of his blood supply: he would shrivel up and die.
(20 April 2006)
And from the right comes the call to achieve energy independence for reasons of national security. Some surprising themes appear in the article:
1) The proposal is for a huge government program
2) Talking about leadership “regardless of party” (in contrast to the current hyper-partisanship )

There’s no mistaking the political pedigree of this website. Above the article an advertisment shows an attractive blonde woman shouting: “I’m tired of liberal guys!” — “ConservativeMatch: sweethearts not bleeding hearts.”

Chavez: oil will be destroyed if attacked

Debora Rey, Associated Press
ASUNCION, Paraguay (AP) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Wednesday again raised the specter of U.S. designs to oust him and promised that his government will blow up his country’s oil fields if the United States should ever attack.

U.S. officials have repeatedly denied any military plans against Chavez, but also call him a threat to stability in the region.

Speaking to other South American leaders, Chavez said his conflict with Washington is rooted in the U.S. thirst to control oil. He said the Americans will be denied that in Venezuela, which is the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter and one of the biggest suppliers to the U.S. market.
(19 April 2006)

Castro on energy
original: Victory Was, Is and Always Will Be Ours!

Orfilio Pelaez and Alberto Nunez, Granma (Cuba) via Marxmail
[Cuban President Fidel Castro touched on energy issues during a two-hour address] during celebrations for the 45th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs victory.

The leader of the Revolution said that, amidst the complex situation
that the world is living in, Cubans have many reasons to be
optimistic. He noted that the country is moving forward on many
fronts and cited the example that Cuba is number one in the world in
terms of energy saving.

He added that annoying blackouts are disappearing and that the island
energy savings are sharply increasing. In addition, in just the last
six or seven weeks, the country has increased its power generating
capacity to the tune of 80,000 kW per week.

After noting that oil prices have reached a new record high, Fidel
warned, once again, that if the big industrialized powers do not make
an effort to be more rational, social problems will become worse and
there will be significant worldwide instability.

He cited the example of the United States, a country that consumes
more than 25 percent of the energy generated worldwide with only 5
percent of the total population.
(20 April 2006)
This speech by Castro, together with comments by contenders for the position of UK prime minister (David Cameron and Gordon Brown) make one think that Tom Whipple’s prophecy about Politics after the Peak is coming true.

Australian MPs in ‘back pocket’ of giants

Lachlan Heywood and Leigh Lalonde, Courier Mail
MAVERICK Queensland Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce has accused Howard Government ministers of being “greased up” by big oil companies.

In an extraordinary attack on his Coalition colleagues, Senator Joyce yesterday said certain MPs were in the “back pocket” of the oil giants, but refused to name who they were.

“Oil companies are very powerful. They run countries, they have no problem running politicians,” he said.

…Opposition Leader Kim Beazley said Australia had to reduce its dependency on Middle East oil by developing alternative fuels and investigating gas to liquid conversion.

“There is no substitute for going down the road of long-term effort to render ourselves less dependent on Middle East oil,” he said.

“We’ve got to go down the road now (of developing) ethanol, biodiesel and, and above all, gas to liquid conversion,” he said.

Mr Beazley also played down the prospect of a federal Labor Government cutting the federal petrol price to reduce petrol prices.

“If you ask me what are my priorities for taxation reform, it’s not in that area of excise,” he said.

Australian Greens energy spokeswoman Senator Christine Milne said the Federal Government had left Australia exposed to serious economic shock over the cost of oil.

“The Federal Government has had a decade to prepare Australia for a future based on dwindling oil supplies but it has failed to take seriously the reality that the era of cheap, easily accessible oil is over. Global politics and finite supplies are converging to generate a crisis,” she said.
(21 April 2006)
More from Australia:
Now is the time to prepare for oil-scarce future (The Age)
Oil price increase prompts inflation fears (ABC)

Get used to higher gas prices, Canadian PM says

Steven Chase and Gloria Galloway, Globe & Mail
OTTAWA, WINNIPEG — Prime Minister Stephen Harper quashed speculation that his spring budget might offer consumers targeted tax relief from soaring fuel prices, saying only that motorists would get a break on gas costs when the Conservatives trim the GST.

He also warned that Canadians are going to have to learn to live with sticker shock at the gas pump.

“I think that the truth of the matter is that higher gas prices — that’s going to be something that we’re going to have to get used to,” Mr. Harper told reporters in Winnipeg.

He was prompted to comment after Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay left the impression earlier yesterday that the Conservative government might be considering additional tax relief aimed at soaring fuel prices.
(20 April 2006)