What is Chuck Schumer's problem?

Goodness, all of this grandstanding is getting really tiresome:
As American drivers shell out more and more money at the pump with each passing day, some are asking whether big oil companies are scheming to withhold supplies in order to boost prices.

New York Senator Charles Schumer, speaking in front of a Hess station in Manhattan, called Tuesday for a federal investigation to see if oil companies and refiners are deliberately withholding gasoline production, taking advantage of the normal switch from winter gas to summer gas in an attempt to bid up prices.

If Schumer really wanted to do the country a favor, he'd look into peak oil and start calling for conservation. In fact, maybe he'd even call for a gas tax (as Jerome a Paris strongly argues for). What, we're not ready for a national gas tax? OK, let's start with New York. It would hardly be regressive, since the poor people in NYC are the least likely ones to own cars.

It really gets me riled up when I see politicians making irresponsible comments that would have the effect of making people consume more oil. Regardless of the price of gasoline at the pump, the price that oil is trading at on the open market should be an indicator that Big Oil is probably not artificially raising the price of a gallon of gasoline. (Not that I'm sticking up for Big Oil. They're hardly innocent. But they don't have to bother with the ickiness of price gouging, since the market is so willingly obliging their quest for very well-lined pockets.) Furthermore, this trick has been tried twice before, and failed on both of those occasions:

A spokesman for The Federal Trade Commission, which is the agency that would look into Schumer's request, said it will take the senator's letter seriously and will respond appropriately, although the spokesman couldn't give a timeline or any other information because the agency had yet to review the letter.

However, the FTC spokesman did point out that two previous investigations into unfair business practices by the oil industry conducted in 2000 and 2001 turned up no evidence of wrongdoing.

Can Schumer really be so completely divorced from the realities of the market? If the answer is no, then his actions are merely grandstanding, which I find somewhat surprising, since he's not up for election right now, and even if he were, his seat is probably not too threatened. If the answer is yes, then he's too ignorant to be my senator, and I won't vote for him next time.  

Do I need to write Schumer another open letter?

Hello Yankee,

Yep, I agree--enough grandstanding by politicians-- they need to truly discuss Peakoil and get the MSM to talk incessantly about it.  Time to inform the general public what really lies ahead so we can start the task of Powerdown.  They need to talk with other world leaders about ASPO's Energy Depletion Protocols too.

Bob Shaw in Phx,AZ  Are Humans Smarter than YEast?

My Letter to Schumer:

Respectfully Sen. Schumer, the point is to start moving away from oil and gas by increasing efficiency, changing our lifestyle and ramping up alternatives, not subsidizing it any further. OPEC simply can't increase production because of basic GEOLOGICAL reasons, not political/economic. They are simply at the limit of their ability to continuously produce ever greater quantities of a NON-RENEWABLE resource. For more on peak oil, please read The Hirsch Report or this analysis of current oil production levels.

If you would like to read about a community that is planning to deal with these issues proactively, I highly recommend you read the plan written by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission. Or perhaps you could sponsor a resolution in the US Senate joining Rep. Bartlett of Maryland calling all the President and all agencies of the Federal government to recognize the importance of the coming peak in oil production as San Francisco recently has.

And then I put my name, address, phone number

How bout addressing this to the 50 richest people in your state instead?



Good idea Matt. Follow the money? Where's that database? I want it. I know I got at least one of them: Bloomberg got one of these.
Forbes publishes the Fortune 500, that would be a good place to start.

There's a website somewhere that shows who donates how much money to particular parties and/or candidates. The heavy-hitters on that last might be a good place to go also.

Most exclusive country clubs also.



Only problem with this is that their interests might not be our interests. If they respond to the crisis by "culling the peasents" then maybe we should have kept our mouths shut.



Schumer's problem as other's have noted here is that he is a grandstander extra-ordinaire. Anyone who follows politics in NY state knows that Chuck has never missed an opportunity to preen for the cameras much as  the rest of us don't skip coffee in the morning. A major problem for change in NYS is Chuck and Hill's egos which get in the way of rational thinking. Not to mention rational discussion as opposed to humming 'everything's coming up roses.'
Nancy Pelosi did the same thing yesterday. She has a plan for sticking it to Big Oil and bringing gas prices down. I blogged on it yesterday:


Meanwhile, gasoline inventories just fell for the 7th week in row. I will say that Big Oil is profiting from the situation, but not because they are gouging. They are making money because supplies are so incredibly tight. The falling gasoline inventories tell the tale. Oh, and someone tell Schumer that some refineries are still down from the hurricane. That is why utilization isn't above 90%. It has nothing to do with restricting supply.


You cannot tell Schumer anything. I was present during expert testimony on the hill in the mid-1980s when he was still in the House of Representatives and he made a complete ass of himself there showing no technical understanding of what was wrong with his proposed "cop killer bullet" and silencer ban even after people explained that he'd be outlawing nail guns, DNA insertion guns (one technique for DNA insert is attaching it to tiny tungsten pellets and shooting it into a cell), and a host of other common tools since the language of the bill was written so shoddily. He finally shut the hearing down in a fit of rage when one witness showed him a 1 liter Coke bottle with the bottom blown out, when the expert witness testified that this was the ultimate one shot silencer and asked if he was prepared to ban Coke bottle manufacture.

Since that day I've had nothing but contempt for Chuckie Schumer, his grandstanding, or his deliberate ignorance. That he refuses to understand peak oil or address the issue directly does not surprise me at all.

In fact, I will go so far as to say that as long as CONgress is staffed with CONmen (namely lawyers), we will have no forward progress on technical issues like global warming, peak oil, conservation, etc. Note that it is the rare congressional member like Bartlett who has a technical background who comes to grips with such issues. This is also why I laugh at people who think that electing Democrats instead of Republicans will make a difference.

I've been wondering lately what, if any, means there might be to encouraging people with technical backgrounds to run for congress?

I notice that India has some rather technical people in their highest offices.

I think technical people too often lack the requisite political skills. We tend to be too honest and to the point. We find it hard to pander to people. For example, if I see a solution to a problem, and it is going to make me very unpopular to suggest it, I am still going to suggest it if it appears to be the best solution to the problem. Hence, I wouldn't get elected, because I didn't pander to the consituency.

Put me in Schumer's shoes. I am going to pound on the podium and say "The problem here with gas prices is because of us, and the way we built our society". I am going to come off sounding more like Kunstler, and that is not going to be a popular stance. The person who gets up and says that the oil companies are the problem, and they have a plan for punishing them and happily transitioning us all to alternative energy is the person who is going to be elected.


Agreed, Robert, and this is Jay Hanson's assertion as to why democracy is fundamentally incapable of grappling with peak oil. I don't necessarily agree with all of Hanson's conclusions, but I do on the topic of democracy. People don't vote for whomever tells them the truth. People vote for whomever makes them feel good in whatever personal value space they currently hold.
As a practical matter, vote for the amiable drunk. Do not vote for the dry drunk, the drunk in denial, or the angry drunk. (Bush). Amiable drunks make the best politicians.

Mosca and Pareto shot the notion of representative democracy to hell definitively over 100 years ago. And they missed a few points.

Schumer has another option: he could Shut The F*ck Up. The only prominent person brave enough to talk like Jim Kunstler is, alas, Jim Kunstler. That is true. But Schumer could at least keep quiet instead of making himsef such a big part of the problem.
i would rather be home with my gold and silver when the populace marches on DC with pitchfolks. Ayn Rand and John Galt - where are you?
India's president is a top scientist so yes he is technical and aware of the preoblems regarding energy sufficency. That was the focus of his speech last independence day - Aug 15th 2005.
However, the Prime Minister who is the head of the executive branch of tehe government doesnt seem to have a clue about it. He was recently talking about laying gas pipelines in the major cities of India (right now distribution of LPG/Cooking Gas is done by oil companies using cylinders). So hence I feel he has no clue. The finance minister who has a very big role to play in policy making is a Harvard trained attorney and going by the statements that he makes regarding growth, credit etc  he also has no clue. Folks feel he thinks of himself as a very "smart economist".
Unfortunately, our political system is such that marketing trumps content, grandstanding and emotion beats policy and movie stars and image prevail over smart, rational would-be representatives.  From Reagan to Bush to Arnold, have we really elected the most qualified people?  

I've been thinking about this and how it relates to PO.  If one candidate stands up and says "sacrifice, powerdown, downsize, etc" and his/her opponent says "It's a plot by Arabs or God-hating liberals or tree-hugging commies.  We are the chosen ones, I promise you everything, tax-cuts, more military, balanced budgets, etc."  Who do you think will get more votes?

In addition to the actual PO issues/problems, there is a psychological dimension of denial, TV commercial-driven elections, and Machiavellian political crap to overcome just to get at the 'real stuff'.

If you look at my DailyKos thread (linked to in the story above), you'll see that the majority of the comments say that increasing taxes is political suicide.

Very few seem willing to touch the idea even with a ten-foot pole...

Jerome, I really appreciate your work, and I agree that it would help move the transition along.  However, I'm surprised you would expect any other reception for this idea.

A tax increase is basically telling people that you want to increase their already significant pain, to force them to do less of something they really want to do.  More than that, you're dealing with three generations of people that have known nothing but increasing driving for almost their entire lives.  They think that episode in the 70s was due to Jimmy Carter being a wimp.  They think Reagan fixed the problem by walking into the middle east bar with spurs jingling and pointing his six-shooters at the bad guys.  Americans have been rewarding Republicans ever since.

Look at it another way.  Some people may want to switch to a more efficient car/truck, but are suddenly having a harder time affording it.  An increase in the gas tax would make it even harder for them to save anything to make the switch.  That would mean they'd be paying more to operate the car/truck they had in mind as well.  Instead of downsizing one notch, they'd have to drop to a Kia or something.  Downsizing at all is seen as deprivation and admission that you're lower class than before.  America is all about status, and cars are some of our most effective status symbols.

So increasing gas taxes is seen as an elitist way to deal with a problem that is not seen as a problem, while avoiding the "real" problem of "unfair" expensive gas, and trying to give everyone a social demotion at the same time.  But people wonder why there's so much opposition?  There's an alternative way to do the same thing that would give people something to hang their hat on, but no one here seems interested in an idea that might actually fly.

Well said.

"Downsizing at all is seen as deprivation and admission that you're lower class than before." - I have already assumed I will live at a lower level of luxury and comfort than I have so far.  It's an important concept that one needs to move past in order to make appropriate changes.

Kia's are actually very nice!

Uh, you got me curious... what is that idea that might "fly?"
Sell them a gas price stabilizer.  It starts when prices fall the first time after the stabilizer is adopted.  When prices fall by a certain percentage, stabilization fees start that slow the price fall by building a stabilization fund.  If you prefer, you could say that the stabilization fees at that point look a lot like automatically increasing gas taxes, but only as the price is falling.

When the price starts rising again, once it rises by a certain percentage, the stabilization fees decrease and become negative, and the price rise is blunted until the fund is depleted or prices are falling on their own.  On the way up, the stabilization fees look a lot like a gas tax cut.

We set a cap on the maximum the stabilization fund can accumulate, and we don't allow it to go negative.

The benefit to consumers is that the price spikes and troughs are smoothed, so prices are as volatile.  The fund builds when prices are falling, when people are happy enough that prices are falling to not mind the increased fees as much.  The fund depletes when the prices are rising, easing the pain of the increase until the fund runs out.

The benefit WRT peak oil is that the largest price spikes, which convey the strongest price signals, are preserved, and the whole thing starts with building a stabilization fund the first time prices drop.  Or, if you prefer, the whole thing starts with something that looks like an automatic gas tax increase.  

You've mentioned this before. I think this is the BEST idea. This is going to happen - in some way, or in some form. I hope it is yours. You are clearly brilliant. I think patience is key. I hope you are following Jerome's Diaries. This is going to take a while. The difficulty comes with selling the complexity. You pioneered this idea and you should stick with it. I will back you in any way I can. Just ask. (or tell me to shut up)
As opposed to the American left's current electoral track record of going from victory to victory, leaving fire in their wake? Something needs to give here.
Cicero said something to the effect of how a good speaker gets elected in a democracy...in modern times that translates to how many folks you have out there to spread your message which then translates to what kind of control you have over the media....

gaia will solve the problem:)

I think people who rise up through public speaking (ethnic leaders, etc.) confirm Cicero's rule.  It's unfortunate that the figurehead of a modern branding campaign does not, himself, rise through that kind of meritocracy.
As someone who lives in NY, I'm used to Chuck's self-promotion. He is the local creator of the "Sunday Press Conference." Years ago, he started doing press conferences on Sunday, because it's such a slow newsday, that he's virtually guaranteed to get himself coverage. I'm surprised he actually did this one on a weekday! But your analysis is correct - he is going after a headline, rather than proposing any meaningful energy policy.
However, the FTC spokesman did point out that two previous investigations into unfair business practices by the oil industry conducted in 2000 and 2001 turned up no evidence of wrongdoing.

Perhaps this time we can edumucate everyone about how the market works?

Alternatively, just because they didn't turn up evidence five years ago is no reason to think they are squeaky clean now.  Not to say that market conditions have nothing to do with it, just saying that in the bid to make a buck (or more bucks), greed trumps just about anything else.  Now, I must be off to watch coverage of the Enron trials...

I really hate to say it, but Chuckie has a sort of a point, even if he doesn't realize that he is making it. It doesn't have to be wrongdoing by the oil companies in order for the entire free market farce to be downright stupid: some get to gouge away, others get to lose their jobs. Free markets are perverse when it comes to key commodities becoming scarce, and lead to something called profiteering. During WWII, the US Government rationed lots of scarce commodities, including gasoline. But I doubt that they'll be able to do it again, now that free markets have become an article of faith. So much the better for countries that aren't into capitalist religion and sign long-term contracts with suppliers.
Do I need to write Schumer another open letter?

Why bother?  He will just ignore you, as he would anyone who suggested that defending the oil companies or pushing for a gas tax was a good political idea.  Besides, if this truly was a free market, Americans wouldn't see gas prices marching upward in unison for every brand.  If there's no actual competition, consumers can be forgiven for thinking that it's closer to a cartel than a free market.

It just another example of how Americans seem to think that we have a birthright to gas of a certain price.

Local Phoenix news ahs shown people commenting on the rising prices the past few weeks. The one thing that jumps out at me is how outraged they all are at he price. Comments like "Ridiculous!" "Outrageous!" "The president should do something!" are what I hear from the people interviewed.

I can't say I'd be any different if I hadn't leared about peak oil and associated issues about a year ago.

One might have hoped that the "Addicted to Oil" speech might have helped, but alas, we're so addicted that apparently the message—despite whatever the actual intention might have been—couldn't penetrate the crack-induced haze.
I agree 100%. It seems that some politicians believe that the cure for an addiction is simple: Lower the price! Can you see us getting that message out to drug addicts? "I know you have a heroin problem, and I know it's expensive, so I am going after the dealers to make sure you get a fair price."


Now that would be a cool way to win an election!
If only cars ran on heroin!  We can make more heroin rather easily (and some analogues are effective in microgram quantities).

It seems that the Democrats want to use this for political gain more than anything else.  Not that they have any say over what goes on in DC right now.  If they were to try and propose any meaningful legislation, the Republicans in congress would kill it.

I keep coming back to the lesson of Jimmy Carter.  Any politician that gives us the straight dope about energy is going to get his ass handed to him.  Thus what happens is that no politician wants to touch the issue, and they are going to sit back and let market forces make the consumer reduce oil consumption.  They can grandstand a bit like Schumer did, or they can push for other things that are equally pointless (ANWR, tax breaks for the oil companies), but nobody dares to tell the American consumer that they need to cut back.

"I keep coming back to the lesson of Jimmy Carter. "

There are a few lessons one can pull from Carter. (Many of them ~since~ his term in office, granted) But even from the Sweater Speech, which makes him look stronger and wiser the farther we go down this road.  Yes, those with the 'Non-negotiable Lifestyle' mentality will still sneer that it was weak or compromising, but the strength to do something so potentially frugally-geeky seems a much better statement of character and self-confidence than any amount of 'Photo-Op Brush Clearing, with Real Gloves on..'


i live in GA - since 1970 - please, please, please don't quote JC. What an embarrasement - soon he wiil be gone.
Too many people forget that the energy issue was only one aspect of Carter's political difficulties.

Carter inherited a variety of problems, and other political leaders refused to back him with regard to reality-based policy.

The real political knife in Carter's back came from the Rwagan campaign, who were working to keep American hostages from being released by (ahem!) Iranian militants so that Carter would appear to be weak.  The Reagan campaign wanted the hostages to be freed, but after the campaign, as I recall.

Carter did attempt reality-based policy discussion, but the political elite f\left him isolated and eventually did the equivalent of political assassination -- courtesy of the Reagan/Iranian terrorist cooperation.

Meanwhile, the populace was content to get numb and dumb.

Where we are now: we need to do it all -- change our own lives (with or without cultural or political support) and also to advocate for reality-based policy in every dimension and at every level of human organisation.

It is obviously too late, and outcomes are out of our control anyway, but we must focus on those things we can do, and do them.

I really wish that wasn't the lesson people picked from that. Carter wasn't lacking for faults then, nor is he now. This is the kind of talk that will ensure more of this behavior from our politicians.
If a sizable gasoline tax were to be enacted on the US federal level, would part of it end up indirectly paid by the oil companies?  My logic is that if the price at the retail pump is determined by the demand curve (and a limited supply), then the price Big Oil ends up pocketing is the difference between that pre-determined retail price and the taxes.  Since it is a global market the effect would be incomplete, but the US is a big enough (ahem) player to matter.  Thus global barrel price would decrease.

Alas the feds won't do anything good with the money they'd thus raise.  But not to worry, their friends on Big Oil won't let them impose such a tax!

You have misunderstanding of what "Big Oil" is.  "Big Oil" is not a neighborhood bully that no one can be involved in.  "Big Oil" is made up of many small investors such as myself.  Mutual funds, pension plans, 401Ks, etc. all own shares in "Big Oil."  We, the owners & shareholders of the corporation, are the ones hurt when excessive taxes are levied against "Big Oil."
You seem to mean you want someone to repeal the laws of nature and/or principles of finite resources so that you don't have to take serious preparation for the future. Is that what you really mean?
What are you talking about?  What better way for society to use less oil than to let the free market determine the price.  That price in this Peak Oil period and beyond will be higher and higher.  That would lead to more money for "Big Oil" to use for exploration or R&D on alternative energies, reduced oil demand, and thus a cleaner environment.  (That is unless coal is burned in greater amounts or more tar sands are mined.)

And there's absolutely nothing wrong making large, huge, or even gigantic amounts of profit in the meantime.  That's the incentive to explore more and put more money into R&D.

Higher prices is a great first-to-hand blunt instrument to lower consumption, but a) its not working yet, & b) too much of the huge wealth transfer is being funnelled into exploration for oil that isn't there, PR denial campaigns & purchasing political 'support' thereof, and hyperconsumption by share-owners.

We could & should be spending that dough on expanding & electrifying mass transit, re-educating the 1st & 2nd worlds to recognise natural limits, and .. (add endless list here).

Oil investors deserve some profits, but not so much, particularly not when most of the oil industry is still  repeating flat out lies about reserves. Profiting from deceit is fraud.

You assume that all people who pay the for Big Oil's massive profits have oil stocks.  This is not true.  

So let's not levee taxes on "Big Oil", let's have the oil companies operate on true free market principles as completely separate entities from the US government.  Have them pay back the money the US taxpayers have spent funding the portion of the military that protects and enables their operations.  Have them pay fair costs for the use of pulic lands.  Then people like you may not find the investment so attractive anymore.  

I don't own any oil stock (directly), and whle I wish you good luck, I have no vested interest in whether you make money or not at your investment.  Shareholders can take their risks, but not on my tab.  The present system funnels money spent for what is an essential product in today's society to those who can afford an investment in oil stocks, and the company officers.

Clearly Schumer is grandstanding, but this is part of the cost of the recent gross profiteering of the oil companies - now people don't believe the PO problem is real.  Well what did you expect?

According to standard microeconomics, if a commodity has inelastic demand (which oil certainly does), all of the tax will be borne by the consumer.
People talk a lot lately about "gouging," but does that even mean anything? It sounds like it just means "charging more than I would prefer to pay." As in:

Motorist: "I'm a reasonable guy and I figure I could pay, say $1.20 per gallon."

Gas station: "The price is $2.89."

Motorist: "@#^&*!!!! You, you, you... GOUGER!!!!!"

I mean serious, do we live in communist Russia or what? First we got some panel of federally-appointed bureaucrats dictating interest rates at their monthly meeting and everyone is all, "America is the land of the free market. Now let's see what the Fed decides to do next!"

And when the price of gas goes above so-and-so's comfort level, it's all gouging. Yeah well buddy, Apple.com is gouging on I-pods cuz I want mine for $50. $50 is a fair price and I refuse to pay more! I'm holding out for $50. You hear that, apple, you GOUGER, you????


After calling the gas station attendant a gouger, the motorist will then proceed to fill up his car and pay the full $2.89 per gallon.

As a lay-person, it is hard to believe that there isn't something happening when a company such as Exxon made a profit of nearly $100,000,000 a day last year.  

Oil industry folks and experts (many of the people who comment here are probably in that group) can explain in excruciating detail how this is possible and how they are NOT sticking it to the consumer, but to Joe Public who just wants to get to work in the morning, why would they think it is any more complicated than this:

  1. Oil companies sell gasoline.
  2. Oil companies are making obscene profits.
  3. oil companies set the price of gas.
  4. gasoline is awfully expensive, and it's always an excuse of "well, our refinery needs maintenance" or "it's almost hurricane season" or "it's summer driving season" or "there was a snowstorm"
  5. gas prices will jump 20 cents in a day or so, but then will only drop 1 or 3 cents at a time, taking a month or more to drop back 20 cents.

Here's a question: what is the easiest way to explain to somebody (who really couldn't care less about markets, they just want to buy  gas) how it all works?  I'm being taken to task for a response I made to my family about one of those silly Exxon/Mobil gas boycott e-mails.  The "drive less" argument is falling on deaf ears, they are convinced it is a conspiracy of some kind.  What can I say to them without making their eyes glaze over?
Explain to them that the oil companies profits as a % of revenue are about 10%, with is in the middle of all industries.   Some are much higher.

And while you are at it, you can point out to them that if an oil company executive makes $20 million per year, and there are 100 million customers in the U.S., then if that executive made nothing it would reduce the cost of their gasoline by about 20 cents/year, or less than a half penny per week.  (And if you consider all of the customers worldwide, that is about a billion customers, and removing that executive salary would provide a 2 cents/year reduction in the gasoline cost.)
So when Sen. Byron Dorgan and others say that executive salaries are increasing fuel costs, the reality is that it is on the order of pennies per year.

Exactly. ExxonMobil made $36 billion profit on about $350 billion revenue as I recall.

Microsoft made $7 billion profit on $12 billion revenue from MS Office alone. (Microsoft has similar profit ratios on almost all product lines.) And this is with a product, that once created, has almost no cost to reproduce endlessly.

Now who is gouging whom here?

I do not need to buy MS office or OS products.

Even if I use MS office or OS products, I do not need to buy new ones.

I'm no fan of Microsoft, but this worn out analogy holds no water.

And I don't need to buy gasoline, I can just take the subway or ride my bike. But lots of other people do. What percentage of people with computers have Microsoft Windows on their computer? Over 90% I imagine. And Office is probably something close, especially in businesses. So almost everyone does end up paying.
I cannot take the subway or ride my bike to work. And regardless of how many DO buy the MS products, they could stop tomorrow and it would not cause them much hardship.  One I could cut down on, the other I could cut out.
Of course you have a choice. You could move to the city, where taking the subway is feasible. That wouldn't hardly cause you too much hardship. Considering how much money people spend on computers, and how much they spend on cars, the proportional hardship of switching would be about the same. And even some of the issues, like getting businesses to move to the city or switch away from MS Office and .doc and .xls files.
I do not work in a city, I work in a large urban sprawl zone.  There is no public transportation, other than circuitous bus routes with multiple changes.

Perhaps moving to such an area or to a city would not be a hardship for you, but it most certainly would for my family and me.  Living in a city would remove much of the joy from my life - which I would indeed regard as a hardship.  And selling a home and buying another entails a significant amount of transaction costs.

Do you seriously compare moving one's home to not upgrading a computer?  Really?  And the money you've paid for computers compares to that which you've paid for cars?  I presently have 7 working computers, and I've never paid more than $1000 for any of them.  At least 3 of them were state-of-the-art when I bought them.  And you can work with .DOC and .XLS files with Star OpenOffice for free.  Please explain to me one absolutely essential feature of, say Office 2003, that is so critical you would be unable to function with only Office 2000.  99% of people have no idea what version they are even using, or care.

Either you have really cheap cars, really expensive computers, or you are really reaching to make your hopeless argument hold.

Nobody gives a rat's arse what version of windows or office they have, because they just use what comes with their computer. They pay the (hidden) microsoft tax through higher prices on the computer, but the tax is small enough that they don't bother about it too much. Likewise, when you live in the suburbs, the whole package comes with a car tax, because you NEED to buy a car to function effectively there. It's not a big cost now, but that's changing and maybe more people will strat caring, and start to demand change to a system where they have no choice but to pay high gas prices.
One problem in your list is #3. Oil companies only indirectly set the price of gas. The price of gas is dictated by the open market (the NYMEX, for instance).

Here is how I have started explaining the issue to people. If I have an inventory of gasoline, and I need to keep the public supplied, and week after week my supplies are falling, then I have two choices. The first is to run out of gas, and say "Sorry, my prices are great but I have no product." The second is to raise prices to the point that some people choose not to buy your product, so that your inventories stop falling. Simple supply and demand. I want to raise prices to the point that I don't run out of product, but I am still making sales. If I try to undercut everyone else, and there is limited supply, I will run out of product.

The result is that the oil companies make money. The people who have it confused are those who think they are making money due to gouging. They are making money due to short supplies. That is what is driving prices (that, and fear).


Spectacular chart of plunging gasoline inventories on this link - I'd post the chart but don't know how or can't.


Holy Shit!

Diesel is quite a bit better:

Further down, they have charts that show gasoline production, and show drops all over the place.  I am not sure what to attribute it to though.  

A couple of possibilities come to mind - taking care of maintenance deferred after Katrina.  It could be the switchover from winter/summer.  They talk about the phaseout of MBTE.  We had borrowed finished gasoline from Europe after Katrina & Rita - maybe we are paying that back now.

Thanks - apprreciate your stepping in.
Diesel only looks better because of the way the chart is scaled. Gasoline stocks are down 12% from the peak, diesel is down 20%.
I will throw out something else on gasoline and diesel, and let you make your own conclusions. This may help explain why the diesel situation looks as it does.

  1. Gasoline is more expensive to produce than diesel.
  2. Diesel is priced higher than gasoline on the street.
  3. Refiners have some ability to swing production from gasoline to diesel.

How about " sorry kids, the party is over. Let's work the lawn now, here are some seeds, and here is a spade. We didn't mean to squander all the good stuff!"  
Thanks for the input, y'all.  The only response I've received so far from my initial email to family and friends (responding to the XOM boycott idea) was "they can all go to hell, I'm gonna drive my truck."


You live in the neo-commie west so don't be surprised.  In spite of all the bleating about free markets it is obvious that when push comes to shove the reflex by western governments and media is to act like commies.  For example take the recent hysteria about Gazprom raising gas prices to NATO aspirant Ukraine.  The hue and cry was about a supposedly politically motivated price increase when it is still far short of the price in oil equivalent energy terms.  There is no such thing as a political price increase since it is the seller's choice to do whatever they want and it is the buyer's choice to shop elsewhere or make do without.  But it is pure politics of the commie variety for the west to attempt to put pressure on Gazprom and Russia to maintain an obscene subsidy to other countries for nothing in return.
When markets are tight, they become much easier to game the system. The basic problem now is not enough gas, but that doesn't mean that the oil companies aren't exploiting the situation.

A comparison: the California power crisis of a few years ago resulted from a lack of adequate generation reserve, but the actual black and brownouts occurred because the lack of margin made it possible for Enron and other corporations to lie, cheat, and steal.

The oil companies are leading with their chins on this gouging business. The consumer remembers the MSM stories on how much money the CEO of ExxonMobil was paid for example.

What was that number... $400 million over the last 13 years or something? It worked out to $138,000 a day. He figures (correctly) that all of the senior oil guys are getting mightily spiffed. He also knows that it is impossible to do anything meaningful about energy because the oil lobby makes the rules and owns at least half of Congress (maybe more).

None of this changes the geological situation, the real production constraints, the fact that fools are driving SUVs and pickups. But it does mean the Average Joe isn't entirely brain dead. He knows his vote doesn't count anymore.
And he is annoyed the dollars he forks up at the gas pump do.    

Don't forget that we have been "at war" for the last four years, and that being "at war" is one of the reasons there isn't enough oil.  People get pissed at war profiteers.

Schumer has a winner politically.  Even moreso since the Repiblicans will never, ever cross the oil cos.  On the other hand, any Democrat that comes out in favor of a fuel tax in an election year should be committed.

There is a price point for oil at which supporting oil companies will become politically damaging. Note that American consumers today can barely tolerate Exxon's 10% profit margins which are quite small compared to pharma and software (for example). Those numbers will jump dramatically when oil is at $100 a barrel and beyond. With consumers screaming bloody murder at them as much as anyone (Arabs, terrorists, environmentalists, whoever) the government will almost certainly cap their profits and take the rest for some other purpose (probably to bail out US automakers but that is a different discussion).

Thus the oil companies much like OPEC have very clear reasons to keep prices at a certain level - oil companies want to keep the price as high as they can before citizens make demands on their profits or call for set pricing, OPEC wants to keep the price as high as it can before consumers and governments are spurred to look for alternatives. Both will prove unable to control prices - to the extent that it is even possible, the corporate structures formed by short term interests that drive the business community will ensure prices are not kept down.

When Exxon publicly insists there is no basic supply problem and lots of oil to be had, they are asking for such criticism.
Lester Brown, in a recent talk nearby, said the real price of gasoline is about $11 per gallon.  
I'm pretty sure that it just oil from the ME that was pushing 11 bucks (when a barrel was 'only' $60). He probably got that from the 3/30/06 Senate Foreign Relations Committe presentation by Milton Copulos, pres of the National Defense Council Foundation.

Gads, I wish the government would work on educating the public about the implications of our energy intake. Certainly some of the 'players' around GWB know the score and are just letting us float down the stream... towards that roaring sound.

Woo hoo!  The prices in my area just broke $3 on average:


(averages are in the bottom left of the page, $3.008 at time of posting, may fall back down)

I expect some congressional inquiries ... the interesting question is what happens after that, whether people just go away satisfied with effigy bashing, or it goes on to something more useful.

Have to insist: US $ 7+  per gallon all over Holland.
I have Ortlieb panniers on my bike?
I wonder if European gas prices are much more expensive than the US gas prices due to the fact that European countries are much smaller and getting from city to city requires less mileage.  In general, I believe many Europeans drive less due to less distance from living communities to work places and better integrated mass-transit systems than in the US.  

The overall impact of your monthly gas expenditures compared to mine may be somewhat equal because I pay less for gas, but have to drive further to go to work, shop, or attend cultural events than you.

No it is tax in Europe that makes the difference. I just did a rough calculation from 96 pence (£0.96) per litre at my local garage this evening and arrived at $6.52 per US gallon BUT we reckon about 65% of the price we pay is tax which would give a net price of about $2.28 / USG. This is probably near right allowing for some small tax in US plus it seems to take longer for market price increases to hit the pump here. I did read that London has £1.09 / L = $7.39 / USG, say $2.58 net which is about the same as US with the small tax addition. I guess this more or less proves the fungibility of gasoline with the slight differences reflecting time lags and maybe some transport cost. The price is moving around too fast to be precise.
My point above was this.  I hear too often from Europeans that Americans shouldn't complain because gas prices are so much higher in Europe.  Due to the design of our cities, the larger acreage in the US, and the lack of intelligent mass-transit,  I have to drive further than most Europeans do for basic things (work, food, entertainment).  It would be interesting to see if my (weekly driving miles * my weekly cost of gas) compares to someone in Holland or England.

Just because you pay more per liter than I do for a quart doesn't mean you are spending more money on a daily or weekly basis.


Gas is only a part of the cost of a car. If you take the total:

  • Write down of the car
  • Insurance
  • Road Tax
  • Repairs
  • Gas / Diesel
  • Parking fee / tickets / ...

and base it on the most popular car in the Netherlands, the peugeot 30x, then the monthly cost of driving a car in the Netherlands is between 500-800 euro. That would be 600-1000 US$ per month.

Gas is about 25%-33% of that.

Ofcoarse, there are a number of assumptions in this calculations (bigger/smaller car, Diesel/Gas engine, More/less popular brand, km per year, new/second hand etc) but this is about it.


Another observation is that
  • if on average gas is 30% of the monthly costs of driving a car
  • and the price of gas is 2.25 US$ on the NYMEX, but about 7 US$ at the pump,

that would mean that if oil doubles in price to 140 US$, the cost of driving a car would increase a mere 10%.

Hardly a crisis.

If you go by bike once a week, you are already in the black.

Gas is only 10% of the cost of using the car...maybe when you include all the others insurance, monthly instalment etc....but it is probably 80%+ of teh cost of using the car if you take only the variable costs and dont include the fixed costs since those are costs that you have to pay if you want the car to be on the road.
so doubling the cost of oil will impact driving.

Second as the price of crude goes up...it's contribution to the cost of gasoline (percentage) goes up too...for example when oil went from 10 to 20 dollars a barrel it did not lead to a doubling of gas prices ...but movements from 60 to 70 are contributing to about 40-50 cents increase in the price of gas...a movement from 90 to 100 will lead to more than the 40-50  cents

sorry if there isnt clarity above ...details of this tidbit are in Leeb's 'teh coming economic collapse'

It would be interesting to see if my (weekly driving miles * my weekly cost of gas) compares to someone in Holland or England.

Mine, too.  If I drive 10 miles a day it's a lot, and that includes groceries, dropping off/picking up kids at two schools, and work commute.

It all depends on where you live and what you do.  The person in the next cubicle over commutes 50 miles a day, not counting the other errands.

I will probably get shot as an oilco apologist but here goes...
Politicos (G. Brown UK Chancellor included) , take pot shots at 'big oil' regularly. Usually what follows is a windfall tax or similar grab . (helps pay for the payroll vote) and looks as if they are doing something constructive.

'Big Oil'- actually quite small compared with Saudi Aramco, Pvdsa etc are hostages to fortune. NYMEX sets prices, on the basis of future beliefs about the price. Mostly by fear and Greed. 'Big Oil' is doing quite well right now. Bear in mind the oil industry spent about 17 of the last 20 years in recession from 1986 to last year.

On face value it looks like gouging, but it isnt. They are making 'obscene' profits by the look of things, but if they were interested in obscene profits only, they would have chucked the oil business years ago and gone into internet porn (no pun intended), or perhaps organised religion or drugs.

XOM's CEO's exit package is particularly tasteless at this time, but no less tasteless than that of many other CEO's.

We, the oil cos and Joe Public are at the mercy of oil futures on the NYMEX . 'Big Oil' is reaping a lot of money, but that is relative too. A deep water drillship kitted out for the GOM recently tripled its day rate to $500 000 per day. Personnel day rates have practically doubled for contractors of experience in less than two years.

Two real questions are begged:

  1. What do they do with the 'obscene' profits?
  2. What do we do to delay personal bankruptcy?

OilCos could:
'Drill on Wall Street' - done , by and large
Gain access to National oil co areas as JV's - trying , but I suspect not doing well
Drill frontier areas - Costly, (see above), risky.  
Think outside the box: I cannot understand why none of the Oil Majors has not got into Nuclear Power in a big way. After all, they are in the Energy Business, and they certainly have the loot and access to engineers,political clout etc.

They could of course buy more corporate art or build a new atrium...

What do we do?
Cut your engine capacity asap
Drive less
Combine trips

Whatever they do or we do, dont wait for the politicians of any stripe to help.

In Humboldt County (Northern California) Prices are up to $3.25 today.
Got2Surf has got the right idea.  "Marketing trumps content...".    IMO, with fuel prices rising, tacking on a fuel tax is political suicide.  That would be a very good idea for one's political opponent.   Now, pushing the idea that 3 quarts will now equal one gallon, might have a better outcome.  The true shame about PO not being an open subject politically is that consumers currently car shopping might make a 10 year decision that will benefit Exxon more than themselves by buying an inefficient vehicle.
More specifically, clever TV commercials win elections.  Appeal to emotion overwhelms reason.

The reaction to sudden high gas prices for no *apparent* reason is rapidly becoming a deafening howl.  And NOBODY (in the MSM) has mentioned depletion.  It's all conspiracy, gouging, etc.  I keep hearing "inventories are really high..."  This is becoming a clusterf$#k of ignorance and wild flailing in the dark.  Where will this go?

They've always said Americans are ignorant and apathetic, but me, personally, I don't know and I don't care.

The Gov't should make sure there is no price collusion.  The term 'Gouging' doesn't really apply I think.

Other than that, as I heard Deffeyes say - there will be rationing.  Either we will ration by price (free market), inconvienence (price controls/long lines/shortages), or we will ration by coupons.

I see it this way:  It was Tuesday, Chuck knows the report is comming out on Wed, so here is his photo op for his election, ( I think he is up for election again, not sure, just guessing). So, he can not really bash to much on homosexuals or immirgration, and he does not need to, because he had found the perfect election year ticked which is bash big oil.  It is a no risk situation because everyone hates higher prices, and everyone feels victimized by big oil.  The opportunity was just too good to pass up.  I just wonder when the other elected officals will pile on board the new election year gravy train to get people to vote for them?
Hey, on the subject of politicans not being Peak Aware, check this out:

(From NRDC's "Earth Action")
"Cape Wind, set to be built off of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, would be the first
offshore wind farm in the United States. This exciting energy project has
enormous potential and would create jobs and help boost local and national
economies while providing a clean and renewable domestic source of energy. Once
operational, Cape Wind's 130 turbines would be able to meet about 75 percent of
the electricity needs of Cape Cod and surrounding islands, helping to reduce
fossil fuel consumption and cut global warming pollution from power plants.

Despite the huge potential benefits of Cape Wind and other offshore wind farms,
Senator Stevens (R-AK), without any hearing or debate, snuck an amendment onto
a Coast Guard bill that would essentially kill this important project and set a
terrible precedent for other offshore wind development within the United
States. Using the pretense of navigational safety, the amendment would allow
Massachusetts Governor Romney to veto Cape Wind even if the Coast Guard
concludes that the project poses no navigational hazard. Although a majority of
Massachusetts residents support Cape Wind, powerful private landowners on Cape
Cod oppose the project, and Governor Romney has announced his opposition as

unrealted comment

84 million barrels a day
square root 9165.151389911680013176094387456 (a side)
(a barrel is 2 feet square)
into feet 18330.302779823360026352188774912 (a side)
into miles 3.4716482537544242474151872679758 (a side)
into square miles 12.05234159779614325068870523416

about 12 square miles of barrels a day

(unless you stack the barrels, i know)

                  temp | kg/m^3
Crude oil, 48° API 60 F 790
Crude oil, 40° API 60 F 825
Crude oil, 35.6° API 60 F 847
Crude oil, 32.6° API 60 F 862
Crude oil, California 60 F 915
Crude oil, Mexican 60 F 973
Crude oil, Texas 60 F 873
from: http://www.simetric.co.uk/si_liquids.htm

oil about 800 kg/m^3

1 barrell is 55 gallon

1 US gallon = 0.0037854118 cubic meters

84,000,000 X 55 = total gallons 4,620,000,000

4620000000 X .0037854118 = 17488602.516 cubic meters

17488602.516 * 800kg/m^3 = 13,990,882,012.8 kg

13990882012.8 * 2.20462262 = 30,844,614,959.170009536 pounds

is 15,422,307.479585004768 tons

about 15.4 million tons of oil a day

(more like 16 million if oil is 850 kg/m^3)

i probably should have done it for 85 million
but there is no reason to do calculations
for 86 million (sorry, inside joke)

don't mean to piss on your calcs...but a barrel of oil is 42 gallons.

A barrel of beer is 36 gal and a barrel of wine is 31.5 gal...go figure

The oil barrel is 42 gallons.  A ton of oil is about 7 barrels.

Why waste your time writing letters to politicians and elected leaders?  You know as well as anybody that they are not who is running the show.  It's who has the money. (And no that's not the "Jews" for any anti-semites reading this.) So instead of writing politicians why don't you cut out the middle (wo)man and write to whoever has the money?

Look at the Peak Oil resolution in SF. I guaran-damn-tee you that what, if anything, that comes from it will be favorable to whoever controls the money in that city.

What got Bush to admit we're addicted to oil? Was it letters and emails to the White House or was it billionaire Richard Rainwater?

I think it would be much effective and efficent use to write to either the members of the Fortune 500 or to the richest people and biggest businesses in your state.  They're going to decide what, if anything, is the response to these crisis.

This is something I'm goint to talk about at the conference next week: "Follow the money!" We live in America folks, a plutocracy with the trappings of a democracy so screw going to the elected democrats and republicans, go to the wealthy plutocrats!"



Actually, I was hoping that the massive clout of The Oil Drum would have caused Schumer serious embarrassment by calling him out for the whole wide interweb to see—thereby sparing me the time I would waste writing him a letter. </snark>

You think the CEO of a Fortune 500 company is any more likely to read and respond to my letter than my own senator is? However it was that Richard Rainwater got on board, I need to find out and start disseminating that method.

"You think the CEO of a Fortune 500 company is any more likely to read and respond to my letter than my own senator is?"


I can guaran-damn-tee you writing to your Senator will do nothing but help him and his staff figure out what you and others need to be told in order to calm you down while they do the bidding of people who have $$$.  Whatever legislation that gets passed and funded will be legislation that the $$$ interests wants. It might happen to coincide with what you want but that's mostly a convenient conincidence.

While he or his staff might respond with a letter, he'll propose/vote for/support legislation originally presented to him by $$$ from lobbyists, think tanks, corporations, etc.

This may sound condescending but here goes anyways cause it's important and I don't know how to communicate it without sounding insulting: writing to your elected official demonstrates that you fundamentally don't understand how our system of government works.

Let's say I have billions of dollars. I use my money to set up think tanks, newspapers, magazines, college endowments, lobbying groups etc.  The politicans who are elected are elected based on their ability to make the public feel good. That's why I hire them, albeit the hiring takes  place indirectly: they are professional liars. The best liars appear totally sincere when speaking to their constituents and may even conscisouly believe the bullshit that comes out of their mouths. This way they can do my bidding while, more or less, padding your head and thanking you for being a concerned citizen and you fall for it while I get what I want done.

See how it works?

Here's a hypothetical:

Let's say you want a gas tax passed. That tax won't be passed and implemented until the folks/institutions with money want it passed.  So write to those folks and persuade them that a gas tax is in their best-interests. Then they will get the appropriate legislation passed faster than you can imagine.

Here's an example:

We all want our politicians, including the much-hated Bush, to address the nation's oil dependency in highly public platforms like the SOTU. So James Kunstler (accidentall/metaphoricallY) wrote a letter (his book) to a billionaire investor and Bush-financier (Richard Rainwater). It took only three months from the time Rainwater found out about Peak OIl from Kunstler to the time Bush was addressing it in the SOTU. (Okay, he didn't say "peak oil" in the SOTU, but you get my general point)

That's how it works: the person/institution with the money decides what gets done by legislation, said by the politicians, and financed by the treasury, etc. The politician is then hired as though he were a PR man or something for the folks with $$$.

What do you get out of it? Well, you can brag to your fellow activists that you wrote to your offical, I guess this makes you look like a mover and shaker or something along those lines.  You may as well attempt to acquire social capital by bragging about twidling your thumbs though.

Another thing I'm going to touch on at the conference is that the most important thing in regards to dealing with Peak Oil is money.

TOD, LATOC, FTW, Energy Bulletin, PO.com etc are the top peak oil sites in the world. Guess what? Our influence on the legislature and the public discourse is equivalent to a hot cup of jack squat beyond our minor ability to influence the members of the Fortune 500. (My guess is Rainwater isn't the only person of means who reads these blogs.)

Now if each of us had $100-$500 stashed away, then yeah letters to our legislators would make a difference.



Meant to write "$100-$500 million" stashed away.



Jay lives! Broadly agree, and will add that Fortune 500 CEOs are slightly more likely than politicians to have some actual learning beyond rat cunning and so might hear better.

Suspect the uncertainties of depletionist scenario's doesn't mix well with highly programmed decision makers, but we've got plenty of ammunition with which to convince. Check out ASPO-Au convenor on investment risk of toll roads (in a nation of compulsory superannuation):

"...By contrast, many economists, including ABARE, predict that oil prices will have fallen by then.  But ABARE forecast just a year ago that oil would be $35 this year and $30/bbl in 2010.  Lots of people, including New York oil futures traders, are betting seriously against them. ..

Superannuation fund managers who do not closely assess the risks that Peak Oil will bring will have more than retirees' incomes at stake.  ASPO-Australia will be approaching regulatory authorities to increase the level of oversight of high-risk investment options like the Brisbane tunnel. "

Actually, I was hoping that the massive clout of The Oil Drum would have caused Schumer serious embarrassment


What it will do is help his staff craft a message that will make Yankee and friends happy campers. Meanwhile, the money from the treasurey will go to finance the implementation of legislation that the $$$ interests of our society wants.

Maybe you don't feel comfortable writint the Fortune 500. Understandable. Then write to the people in the richest county in NY or the folks who own homes worth over $10 million or something like that.

Make $$$ what you focus on cause we live in America and $$$ is all that counts. Need I remind you this country was established to serve the upper 1% of the population? The abolotion of slavery and the civil rights movement did not change this fundamental dynamic, they just expanded who gets to work for the top 1% (or 1/10th of 1%) as their employees: attorneys, accountants, entertainers, doctors, military officers, etc. That's only good business sense on their part when you think about it.



Matt: Good series of rants. It is amazing that some adults need to be informed of something so obvious.
I guess you missed the </snark> tag, since you didn't include it in your quote. Too bad—it was important to getting my meaning across.
Oh no, I understood you meant it to be sarcastic. The point of my response was that all the letter writing, blogging, petitioning, etc. on our parts does close to nothing unless it influence the $$$ in the country.

Even if TOD, LATOC, etc each grow to 50,000 visits a day that won't do any good unless it's influencing the $$$.



Even if TOD, LATOC, etc each grow to 50,000 visits a day that won't do any good unless it's influencing the $$$.

If you can get those 50,000 out in the street like the recent French protestors, you might get your point across. :^)


Let's wait and see what the results of the French protests are.  

Furthermore, what do you think would happen if people in the US acted likewise? I can tell you what would happen by recommending you read this story:


Keep in mind that things like blocking traffic while protesting can be considered terrorist activites under the Patriot Act (interfering with systems of mass transportation).



Yeah, I have lived in Europe, and they can get away with a lot that we can't get away with here. I have run into those traffic stopping protests a couple of times over there.


I can only imagine how that large a protest would be depicted by the American MSM:

"there's a throng of 50,000 satan-worshipping, homosexual, Al Qaeda sympthasizers all hoped up on methamphetmines trying to burn down SUV dealerhsips!!!!"



Ah, now you say "close to nothing" rather than what I took to be an actual "nothing" earlier.

I think it's true that elected officials in many cases track "counts" and a letter is an easy way to increment the count.
How sensitive that official is to counts depends on things like how close he is to election and what his opposition looks like.

The things to be aware of are:

  1. form emails are not even counted ("click here" type)
  2. personal emails are probably rarely counted
  3. paper letters have the highest chance of being counted

The interesting thing is, with standard "scan, search, and shred" operation, the counts you increment may be all automatic, and a human may never read your letter.

That's ok though, what do you want for 39 cents postage?

You know, it just sounds so unseemly when you describe it that way.  ;-)

One of the biggest differences with the crowd that's running things now is how "in your face" they are about it.  In some ways it is refreshingly open.  And yet I'm still amazed at the mental contortions people will go through to avoid seeing it.


It's cause the whole thing is more sinister and dark then most folks, even ones who are extremely informed,
concerned and well-read, could ever imagine.



Couple thousand years ago one of them old-time Roman pols spouted off a DUET (Deep Universal Eternal Truth) about government that translates:

"The people want to be deceived, [Therefore let us]deceive them."

Yep, if that wasn't true Fox News wouldn't exist.



Hello Matt,

I agree with your points, but it all boils down to getting the rich & powerful to first put their $$$ into personal Powerdown for themselves and encouraging everyone else to do the same.  That is why I was so delighted to see Richard Rainwater take the first steps to get off the non-sustainable, and false paradigm of: the infinite growth and detritus-powered 'hamster wheel'.

I have tried my best to get email responses from Oprah, Bono, Alice Cooper, the Walt Disney Board, Bill O'Reilly, and many more through my submitted comments to their websites.  All have failed because I believe the employees hired by these shaker & movers don't want to present my Peakoil bad news to their boss.  Unfortunately, I lack the clout or funds to wheedle a personal introduction to meet any such person.

In response to this, I have somewhat shifted my Peakoil PsyOps strategy into doing my best to bring Peakoil Outreach into the Energy Infrastructure itself.  Basically, it revolves around informing every gas station attendent I can get to listen when I go into a gas-station to buy fuel.  As the unwashed masses' mis-directed rage against the energy industry rises, it offers a golden opportunity for Peakniks to get the employees themselves to start pressuring their topdog bosses.  I hope I can explain this further in the rest of this post.  

As gas prices continue to skyrocket, the Peakoil ignorant addicts bitching and whining at the poor minimum wage gas-station cashier will make many ask for raises, or else they'll quit, forcing the gas-station owner to having to man the counter.  Then when the real detritovores start putting a gun to the owner's head telling him to turn on pump #3 so his fellow addict thug can top off the tank-- expect owners to start sending nasty Peakoil letters to the oil companies.  When the gasoline tanker truckdriver is subjected to the real fears of armed hijackings [see '70s gas crunch], they too will be sending a message up the corporate chain that Powerdown is a better idea.

Eventually, this will result in all ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP,Peabody Coal, etc, employees being corporately trained in Peakoil and Powerdown understanding as the cheapest way to calm the public at large.  This corporate mindshift will be started at the corporate board level before the employees revolt from ever-rising job fears.  I would expect a large campaign of directly consumer targeted info programs and other enhanced viral-marketing schemes.

The Chevron WillYouJoinUs website is an excellent start:  I expect further programs such as a free gift of a chapter/week of some Peakoil tome with every gasoline purchase [Matt Simmons or Savinar's books, for example], or a specialized 'Peakoil' gasoline credit card that gives a small percentage discount if you log a certain number of hrs/week on Peakoil websites.

The major websites I check often [EnergyBulletin, TOD, LATOC, Dieoff.com [my favorite], Peakoil.com, and Yahoo energy forums could form a non-profit, non-affliated consortium to remain truly independent from the detritus corporations influence, but would be providing the independent service  of being the vehicle to inform millions, to eventual billions, about the Hubbert Downslope and all the other concepts we discuss.  The software to track membership hours should be simple enough to design so that you could receive your discount on gasoline, electricity, natgas, and heating oil purchases.

But the instant energy savings of millions of Americans becoming Peakoil aware and starting a personal Powerdown will vastly outweigh any associated costs of this program.  Otherwise, expect police escorts for tanker rigs, and policemen standing guard making sure everyone behaves as we queque for the declining fuels-- and this will make the remaining detritus just that more expensive.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?


If I may shift into Jay Hanson mode for a moment: how do you see your "Peak Oil Psyops" strategy increasing your own inclusive fitness?

As you do not operate a regularly updated website in order to promote your popularity with other members of the peak oil tribe, are not selling anything in order to acquire meat to trade for mating opportunities, not promoting any conferences in order to socialize with females, not forming any non-profits to acquire social status, and are not (so far as I know) affliated with any activist or political tribes, I am curious what your motivation is? What about your extensive efforts provides you with the amount of dopamine to make the time spent feel worthwhile?

It's what always puzzled me about Jay too once I understood his theories about human nature and inclusive fitness. I could see no way that he was benefitting from what he was doing so I began to wonder why he put so much time into it. He once wrote that he might be a genetic mutant.

As far as answering the question myself regarding LATOC, it is the most efficient means for me to acquire inclusive fitness in the form of both social and financial capital. I could do other things that might afford me more financial capital (legal practice) but that would be at the expense of much social capital (anonymous junior associates or DA/PDs don't get their picture in Fortune).



Hello Matt,

Thxs for responding. Your quote: "If I may shift into Jay Hanson mode for a moment: how do you see your "Peak Oil Psyops" strategy increasing your own inclusive fitness?"

I, too, feel like a genetic mutant like Jay Hanson: except, that I am much more cash & time limited in enhancing my inclusive fitness--I have accepted the stark reality: that I am just another face in the billions living, then dying from the ever-tightening grasp of the Thermo-Gene Collision.  Most poor souls will never realize, until too late, their gene-driven compulsion that in deliriously raging for the leverage afforded by the Detritus Machine is only hurting themselves.

Entropy rules All, All the time, and most of us will die in a short distance from where we live now with the passage of time.  Even a 3,000 mile move will not gain much in inclusive fitness if the broader context of our lifestyles do not drastically change.

Your Quote: "What about your extensive efforts provides you with the amount of dopamine to make the time spent feel worthwhile?"

My fondest hope [or wishful delusion?], is that my free gift of ideas already planted in many member's minds, and stored in the archives of key websites will spur others long after I cannot afford a web connection anymore.  This is the source of my dopamine rush, and any new ideas that pop into my head: I want widely dispersed ASAP to accelerate proactive chamge.

I think my ideas of profitably incentivizing energy companies to choke production, then shifting huge sums to the creation of large biosolar habitats geographically distinct from detritovore habitats, and protected by Earthmarine buffer areas have great merit.  Most importantly, those first mover pioneers seeking sustainability will be inspirational role models for the remaining addicted detritovores to consider.  The mere creation of Earthmarines will make it obvious that a new paradigm is underway, and any required violence should be specifically targeted towards those continually grasping for the senseless wasting of ancient sunshine.  My belief is that this can reduce the overall violence as we descend the Hubbert Downslope.

My "Peak Oil Psyops" strategy is fundamentally created in trying to optimize the inevitable Dieoff Bottleneck, not only for future humans, but for the other helpless lifeforms on this little blue marble.  The vaunted desire to plan for the Seventh Generation ahead.  In short, I am trying to elicit in others a proactive behavioral change to want to Powerdown.  Time will tell if sufficient 'generous genes' exist in the populace to make a difference.

Bob Shaw in Phx,AZ  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Oil company profits: A perspective
Earnings, Revenues, Profits (Billions) for selected companies, recent quarter, 2005
Source: Bloomberg News, reported in AAPG Explorer Dec. 2005

Company, Net Profit, Revenue, Profit Margin
Citigroup (banking), $7.1, $21.5, 33%
Microsoft, $3.1, $9.7, 32%
Coca-Cola, $1.3, $6.0, 21%
Procter & Gamble, $2.0, $14.8, 14%
General Electric, $4.7, $41.6, 11%
ExxonMobil, $9.9, $92.6, 11%
ConocoPhillips, $3.8, $48.7, 8%
IBM, $1.5, $21.5, 7%
Chevron, $3.6, $51.1, 7%
Wal-Mart, $2.8, $76.8, 4%

Oil industry average profit margin is about 8.2%; (3rd Q. '05) for all US industry, the average is about 6.8%.
Profits in the oil industry were easily outpaced by those of the Pharmaceuticals, Banks, Household Products, Software, Telecommunications, Semiconductors, Consumer Services, and Food, Beverage and Tobacco sectors.

Citigroup makes 33 cents for every $1 of sales.
Microsoft makes 32 cents for every $1 of sales.
Coca-Cola makes 21 cents for every $1 of sales.
Procter & Gamble makes 14 cents for every $1 of sales.
General Electric makes 11 cents for every $1 of sales.

Where are the cries from the public that these companies are gouging them?

So who then do you propose we blame cause, gosh-darnit, I'm fixin to blame somebody for the $100 it's taking to fill up my aircraft-carrier on wheels! I've narrowed the list to the following:

  1. Poor people
  2. Black people
  3. Mexican people (seems underway already)
  4. Jewish people
  5. Arab people (already seeing alot of this)
  6. Persian people (seeing this too these days)
  7. Gay people (not sure what Gays have to do with oil prices, but I'm sure we can come up with something)
  8. The elderly
  9. The young
  10. Single mothers
  11. Lefthanded people

Anybody else?



How could you forget the dope smoking liberal left enviros? Yer losing it, man! \jk
You know what Shakespeare said.



Right on, Matt!!

Your grasp of the subtilties of our political system seems very accurate to me.  

Assuaging the public while serving the moneyed interests is what it's all about.

Come election time, it's all gay marriage and immigration and 'morals'

By the way, I 'grew up' in West Marin, less than an hour away from you, and attended SRJC for a year and a half.  I think you're in a relatively good spot if TS really H'sTF.  Fade North, and West, learn to hunt and gather a bit (seafood, mushrooms, wine grapes, pigs, deer).  You're in a wet and fertile area.  Buy a chainsaw.  

I'm very interested in where this collective howl over gas prices will go...

I'm not exactly thrilled with my current location, but it could certainly be worse. As you say, a bit furhter north and that 's about as good as you're probably going to find it.

Regarding our political system: what I find particular funny/bemusing is when activists write to their politicians saying things like, "we want alterantive energy!!!"  Then the politicians turn around and give a contract for ethanol to Archer Daniels Midland and one for a hydrogen pipeline to Halliburton and turn back around and tell the activists "see how much money we're giving to alternative energy!". The activists then have a back-slapping celebration party while the money flows to the big corporations who fund think tanks, newspapers, leglislation, that will weaken the activists.

Like the antiwar folks who donated money to Kerry so he could take out ad campaigns on NBC which is owned by General Electric which is making tons of money on weapons contracts.




Out of all the non-techies who post at TOD, you are my favorite.  You have a very realistic view about the status of many things in this country.  What you say about our government is quite true in my view.  It is one reason I have stopped expending any energy whatsoever on politics and converted that energy into activities that concern taking care of myself and my family.  I will not vote again until I hear a candidate be as blunt as yourself to the American public.  

I'm more a "set up a apocalyptic religious cult, I mean 'ecologicall sustainablie community'" type of a guy than a "run for office" type of guy.

I agree with your assesment although a year ago I was stupid enough to send free copies of The Party's Over to all the council people here in Santa Rosa. Total waste of $100, I should have put that into silver, it would be $150-$175 now.



I don't think disseminating information is a bad thing and not necessarily politically-motivated (nice of you to shell out your own cash), but I don't feel the need to convert the unconvertible.

Ya, investment in silver or gold would have been good two years ago.  In the end, though, when inflation hits the dollar, what will you have?  Are you going to actually "get" the silver or gold or the useless dollar equivalant?

I'm more into "buy your material goods now" crowd that can barter this stuff away latter.  Tons of beef jerky and the like [insert sarcasm here].

I could have used the $100 into a really good used bicycle, liquor to barter with, beef jerky,  freeze dried food, seed, etc. I've been putting it into silver because I didn't know what else to do with it and figured silver was better than just letting it sit in the bank and get hyperinflated into toilet paper.

Pretty much anything would have been a wiser use than sending them the books. Heck, I could have spent it on 10 dime bags of dope, smoked them and might have come up with some really great creative ideas about how to handle this predicament and then posted those on the net.  (Not that I do that type of thing, just saying I could have and it would have been more productive then sending people free books.)


Since we are talking about investments.  Two of the funds in my 401K have done pretty well over the last 2 years.  They basically go up quickly when European/Asian currencies appreciate against the dollar.  The rates below have been typical over the last several years.

Developed Int'l - Your Rate of Return - 15.0%
Emerging Markets Int'l - Your Rate of Return -  17.5%

Just another place to "hedge your bets" if you think the dollar will tank in the near future.

You should just say "No" to drugs...er, I mean, high gasoline prices...

Subkommander Dred

Or another political outcome: compromise!

If we compromise, and give-up half of what we're fighting for, and do it again and again, and again, what are we left with?

(Hint - not much)

Regarding your location and possible relocation:
  1. Go up river.
  2. Think hydroelectric dams and irrigation water.
  3. In N. Calif. most stuff grows well up to about 3000 ft. altitude and sometimes higher on south-facing slopes.
  4. Mountain (even Sierra foothill) roads are easy to block with strategically-felled trees and a few hundred caltrops.
  5. Consider played-out gold mines and unprofitable vineyards for relatively inexpensive real estate--also some failed cattle ranches and orchards.
  6. Santa Rosa gets too darn hot in the summers, and anyway it could quickly be overrun by a million starving refugees fleeing Bay Area chaos.

 The retreat you have completed and fully stocked is the one you'll most likely never need. Same thinking as my never needing the survival kit I bought in 1957: What you are prepared for you probably will not encounter.

And vice versa.


I have this theory that if spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about something, then it will either never happend or it will happen but won't be nearly as bad as something you hadn't thought about.

It's the things that come out of the blue or that you were ignorant of that generally cause the most trouble.

Let's take Peak Oil as an example: I spend a ri-cock-ulous (that's lilke "ridickulous" but even worse) amount of time worrying about the matters we talk about on this board as do I suspect most others who post or lurk here. The thing is though since we are aware of the problem, many of us are positioning ourselves to benefit from it at least in short-to-medium run. (Long run all bets are off).

So the folks here who have moved their money around stand a good chance of actually being BETTER off as gas goes to $3, $4, $5.

MEanwhile, we'll probably get bitchslapped by something we hadn't even thought of. Like living in a state that gets taken over by half-man/half-machine cybernetic killing machine sent back from the future, for instance.

On the other hand, most Americans don't even have PO on their radar screen. With no savings, adjustable ARMs on overpriced Mcmansions they had no place ever buying, and fuel guzzling aircraft carriers on wheels in their garages which they drive 120 miles a day, theire going to get slapped silly by $4 gas. Meanwhile their probably worrying incessantly that they haven't bought enough stock in Google.



Excellent post. Your thinking so closely parallels mine that sometimes it is almost as if I see my younger self writing.

My solution has always been to worry about everything, working on the theory that then nothing can get me. So far, this technique has worked for me.

Beware of paralysis through analysis.

Get out of Santa Rosa.

Make new friends.

Find strong women.

Consider new hobbies, such as cowboy action shooting or saber fencing. Fencing is much like knife fighting, except that you do not get bloody. BTW, acting is a survival skill and very useful in case you decide to enter the political arena. (Especially this is true in Calif.)

Before I forget, to my list of recommended movies I now add "The Seven Samurai," and also its later Western version, "The Magnificent Seven."

Coke makes 21 cents for every $1 of sales???

Damn, I want a raise!


Most products are secondary to energy.  Energy is the larger issue, the foundation.  My Coke habit is secondary...
India's president is a top scientist so yes he is technical and aware of the preoblems regarding energy sufficency. That was the focus of his speech last independence day - Aug 15th 2005.

However, the Prime Minister who is the head of the executive branch of tehe government doesnt seem to have a clue about it. He was recently talking about laying gas pipelines in the major cities of India (right now distribution of LPG/Cooking Gas is done by oil companies using cylinders). So hence I feel he has no clue. The finance minister who has a very big role to play in policy making is a Harvard trained attorney and going by the statements that he makes regarding growth, credit etc  he also has no clue. Folks feel he thinks of himself as a very "smart economist".

Gas is only 10% of the cost of using the car...maybe when you include all the others insurance, monthly instalment etc....but it is probably 80%+ of teh cost of using the car if you take only the variable costs and dont include the fixed costs since those are costs that you have to pay if you want the car to be on the road.

so doubling the cost of oil will impact driving.

Second as the price of crude goes up...it's contribution to the cost of gasoline (percentage) goes up too...for example when oil went from 10 to 20 dollars a barrel it did not lead to a doubling of gas prices ...but movements from 60 to 70 are contributing to about 40-50 cents increase in the price of gas...a movement from 90 to 100 will lead to more than the 40-50  cents

sorry if there isnt clarity above ...details of this tidbit are in Leeb's 'teh coming economic collapse'

If Hillary and the Democrats get elected watch for the U.S oil debate to follow the updated version of the Ant and the Grasshopper.

In a field one summer's day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart's content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.     
  "Why not come and chat with me," said the Grasshopper, "instead of toiling and moiling in that way?"     
  "I am helping to lay up food for the winter," said the Ant, "and recommend you to do the same."     
  "Why bother about winter?" said the Grasshopper; "we have got plenty of food at present." But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil. When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food, and found itself dying of hunger.  The Grasshopper and his friend went and killed the ant to take his food stocks because they were hungry but found out that what the ant had collected was not much and of poor quality so the Grasshopper and all his friends starved to death.  The End.