The Real Stakes

The Republican party has launched a new political television ad named “The Stakes” that’s highly reminiscent of Lyndon Johnson’s infamous 1964 “Daisy” ad. The new ad, if you haven’t heard, is a montage of various terrorists vowing to attack the USA, and ends with a bomb (nuclear? Not sure) explosion and a simple message: “These are the stakes. Vote November 7th.” It’s not a shock to anyone that the ad has caused much outrage among Democrats, and rightly so, since there’s no sugarcoating the basic message here.

Of course, the “stakes” being discussed only touch on the surface of the real problem. The real “stakes” are something more along these lines:

  • Our industrial economy consumes massive amounts of petroleum every day. It is the lifeblood of society and enables most if not all of the systems that we are totally dependent on.
  • We are currently discovering only 1 barrel of oil for every 6 that we use, and that ratio is increasing every year.
  • Living in a finite system as we do, there are limits on how much oil there is to be discovered, and on the rate of extraction.
  • Estimates vary, but many geologists and other scientists agree that we are either near or at the limits for both of these rates. At the most we have about 10 years before global decline truly sets in.
  • Americans are not only dependent on oil, but we are dependent on cheap oil. While we have shown a willingness to pay $4 per gallon of gasoline, economists theorize that the wheels will come off the economy as the price nears $7-$10 per gallon. It will only take a few major hurricanes in the right spot or a regional Middle East war to quickly reach that threshold.
  • Since we have already depleted a good portion of our domestic oil reserves, we must import larger and larger quantities of oil from overseas to keep our economy going.
  • In order to keep the price of that oil (relatively) low, we will use whatever tools we have at our disposal to both acquire and set the price we need. This includes financial policies, diplomacy, or outright military action. We have declared the Middle East to be a strategic theater of national interest with the Carter Doctrine, and woe be unto whatever country dares try and thwart us.
  • Nothing is more important to us than access to cheap oil. We will deal with whomever we must and manufacture a casus belli if need be. In the battle between acquiring oil and moral/ethical principles, oil will always win. The US public will support this as well whether most of them realize this or not.
  • We are staking our entire future on winning the battle for the world’s remaining supplies of petroleum and natural gas. We have no “plan B”, and we have no money for pay for a transition to a more sustainable economy. We have sacrificed our blood and treasure for decades to serve a faulty proposition, namely that the supply of oil is limitless.
  • While we are broke, we still are the world’s mightiest empire. The odds of the USA quietly morphing into a poor, energy-starved nation are low. Empires collapse; they do not voluntarily disband. And until that point is reached, they expend their entire vigor on maintaining their position any which way they can. In a nuclear age, that is a frightening proposition.

These are the stakes, people.


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