Sunday, December 25, 2005

Oil and Blood

Tibor R. Machan

Imagine that an emergency made the need for blood transfusions especially urgent but Jehovah Witnesses were in charge. That’s what we are experiencing now, only not with blood but oil supply. In that case the Jehovah Witnesses are the environmentalists.

Jehovah Witnesses are often very nice people, certainly well mannered and often dressed spiffily. But their idea on the merits of blood transfusions is really, really perverse, like the ideas of Christian Scientists on seeking the help of physicians when one’s body is ailing. I am sorry but this is just so. Sure, so long as it pertains to them and they aren’t forcing their views on anyone else, I can live with both, although when either of them inflicts these views on their own children, I get very worried. Children are dependents, not yet of age so as to figure out what’s best, and when they are subjected to parents’ peculiar religious or any other sort of notions, especially ones that can kill them, it’s time to call in the trial lawyers, I say. They are injuring, even killing kids, with ideas the kids never had a chance to consider and decide about.

But never mind that. It is with the environmentalists’ impact on public policy that I am concerned. The country has been terribly dependent on imported oil and that would not be so bad if the oil were owned by reasonable people abroad, people who, like reason would guide one to do, wished to earn a decent living off their good fortune and hard work. That would make for healthy trade between, say, the oil rich Saudi Arabians or Venezuelans and the rest of the world.

Sadly, however, as things are, the oil abroad is under the control of a bunch of rouge states that (a) use it to make the population addicted to free lunches that can only last so long and (b) play geopolitical games instead of conduct trade with people outside their borders. This makes is especially crucial that the rest of the world institute rational economic policies when it comes to oil exploration, extraction and refinement.

No, of course oil will not last forever. But it could do us a lot more good without irrational restraint of production and trade that’s often brought about by the irrational exuberance of too many environmentalists who haven’t found an oil rig they didn’t hate or an oil refinery they didn’t want to ban.

Even in a time of emergency, such as many Americans had and are still reeling from involving the hurricanes, instead of retreating in shame of how little they care about human well-being, both the environmentalists and their political pawns in Washington prefer dragging a bunch of oil company executives in front of pontificating Congressional committees and subjecting them to various attempts to humiliation, as if their duties were first to appease the politicos rather than enrich all those who own oil stocks (which, by the way, includes millions of people who are far from “fat cats,” whoever that insulting term is supposed to refer to).

Oh, yes, about that gauging issue—no doubt some folks love to exploit other people’s dire needs, but it is simply impossible to know from afar who is doing this as opposed to taking reasonable advantage of having prudently saved up (horded) resources while others gave not a fig about a rainy day. If one thinks charging high prices for goods and services in short supply is a bad thing, we might as well shut down all labor unions which flourish by advocating that policy, or doctors who actually live by it (given how they are mostly needed and diligently charge for this when their patients are in dire need of their expertise).

Anyway, I look at environmental opposition to oil exploration in, say, Alaska, or offshore, or anywhere, as rank obstructionism and the cause of much misery, especially to those who can least afford or cope with it. This is just what you get when people’s value systems have become so warped that they are willing to put trees, snail darters, and rare frogs ahead of human lives and well-being on their list of priorities. But, like the Jehovah Witnesses or Christian Scientists, if they do it to themselves, that can only be argued with in a free country. But if they inflict their perverse notions on us all, they should be stopped.

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