King for a Day, Part I

January 21st, 2010

By Brian Bagent

How do we disentangle ourselves from the Gordian Knot that can characterize what has become many of our foreign affairs, especially what is going on in the Middle East?  How can we reduce unemployment back to an acceptable level of 3-5% and sustain it indefinitely?  How can we reduce our staggering $12,000,000,000,000 debt and balance the budget?

I have a few suggestions.

Start drilling for oil on our own soil and on our own coasts.  Now.  The technology has existed for years and has been in use to ensure the least amount of damage to the environment while maximizing production.  I’ve seen, first hand, what oil companies do to preserve the environment in the Amazonian jungles of Ecuador.  The caribou herds on the North Slope of Alaska have grown in spite of the dire warnings of environmentalists.

The sight of oil derricks and pump jacks may offend the sensibilities of environmentalists, but the sensibilities of environmentalists are not worth the life of one American serviceman.  Nor, for that matter, are their sensibilities worth the life of one Arab.  Think long and hard on this point, because environmental sensibilities are the one and only reason we are not drilling for oil here the way we should be.  Some say “no blood for oil.”  I agree, but unless we want to all live the agrarian life, oil is a necessity.  We have it here, so lets drill for it.

There is an old joke that says that the best time to plant an oak tree was yesterday.  The second best time to plant one is today.  We have the capacity, in combination with the capacity of countries that are actually friendly to us (we buy more oil from Canada than we do anybody else), to sustain ourselves without a single drop of oil from anywhere in the Middle East.  But we have to start drilling for it now so that we can start paring down our involvement in the Middle East.  Within 10 years, we would no longer be reliant upon them.  I don’t mean to do it tentatively, but to do it massively.

Middle Eastern countries are nearly 100% dependent on western technology to produce oil, and most of that technology is American.  Kudos to Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, and the UK for the technology they’ve developed for oil production, but none of those countries alone, or even in concert, has a workforce large enough to fill the void if American oil workers suddenly were to find employment in our own back yard.  And there certainly aren’t enough educated Arabs to take up the slack, either.  China has a large enough workforce, but not enough to fill the void.  There is lots of oil in the Middle East.  Lets see how much of it they can get out of the ground without us.

That alone would go a long way towards resolving questions 1 and 2.  Question 3 will be dealt with subsequently, and will refer back to ideas in this essay.

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4 Responses to “King for a Day, Part I”

  1. Tom |

    Great ideas, Brian. I don’t know that drilling in our own territory (on land and offshore) will solve the problems of energy dependence, unemployment, and foreign transfers, but it would make a sizable dent. I agree that we should pursue our own reserves in a big way, but at the same time we need to protect the environment. As you say, the technology is there to do it. It takes a re-jiggering of our political attitudes, and we may just be getting to the point where that can happen.

  2. Brianna |

    “There is lots of oil in the Middle East. Lets see how much of it they can get out of the ground without us.”


    Tom, you should read Jared Diamond’s Collapse. There is a chapter in there about how he visited a drill site in SE Asia, run by some company whose name I forget, and was absolutely shocked to see how well the company had preserved the environment around its drilling areas despite its nefarious activities. He was also shocked at their strict safety rules and regs, and how strongly they were enforced. When he asked why they were so careful, the company explained that preventing damage was cheaper than cleaning it up, that enforcing strict safety regs was cheaper than dealing with the fallout from accidents, and that both policies were better for business than engaging in destruction and stupidity.

  3. larry |

    I’m very much in “tune” with your thoughts. Why are we as a nation forced to suffer the slings and arrows of the rest of the world. If it were my call I would impose strict isolationism. Pull back our armies and serve notice that the free lunch is over. We can be an independent nation with the resources we have.

  4. Brian |

    My focus on this point is to get ourselves out of the Middle East and away from dependence on oil from the ME. Nearly everybody on planet is a beneficiary of what our oil companies are doing in the ME. It’s time to pull up stakes there and just see what all of our “friends” and enemies do without. I suffer no delusions that they will suddenly realize the benefits we provide by doing what we do, but I’d just laugh and laugh and laugh as the rest of the world would finally have to suffer the consequences of their own folly and stop benefiting from ours.

    Tom, just think about all of the businesses (and jobs) that service oil production without actually being in oil production. I used to write a lot of software for oil and gas companies. Think about fleet vehicle sales, and all of the little things necessary to make any business function. It would benefit all of us in at least 2 ways.

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