Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Offshore Drilling Boondoggle, Part II

Some time ago a certain business acquaintance of mine, in response to a particularly thorny strategic problem, sent me an email in which he laid out a fairly detailed scenario of -- shall we say -- questionable validity which he hoped would help to resolve the matter. He followed his complex and meandering narrative by asking: "Can you arrange such story toward [name of company]?"

I'm not sure if it was intended this way (the man is not a native English-speaker), but I found this rather peculiar formulation to be succinct and humorous while at the same time conveying quite a bit of finely nuanced subtext. I interpreted it to mean something along the lines of: I know this sounds far-fetched and somewhat pathetic, but it is the best I could come up with in these very difficult circumstances, so I would appreciate it very much if you could apply yourself to improving upon it and very carefully conveying it in its refined form to [name of company] in such a way as to make us not appear to be ridiculous, incompetent, or corrupt.

Since that time, I've found myself in meetings with people at my own organization, after hearing someone come up with a semi-plausible strategy or solution, saying things like "Yeah, well, ok, I'll see if I can arrange that kind of story toward [whoever]."

Speaking of which, such a phrase -- or one very similar -- was probably uttered more than once during what was apparently a pow-wow of GOP higher ups recently held to arrange toward the public the story of how we must (MUST!) rescind the moratorium against drilling for oil in U.S. coastal waters and in the Alaskan National Wildlife Reserve, because this is the only (the ONLY!) way we can quickly and effectively drive down the price of oil and relieve the suffering of consumers at the gas pump.

There must have been such a pow-wow, because these people are relentlessly pushing this agenda in recent days. As I mentioned in the post below, I don't claim to have any knowledge about whether we should allow any of this drilling. The pro- and anti-environmentalism arguments don't interest me a whole lot. What interests me is what the real agenda is here.

As we all know beyond any doubt, Republicans are notoriously pro-consumer and care very deeply about economically disadvantaged people who are having a difficult time dealing with the fact that the cost of putting gasoline in their vehicles has increased by a factor of 4 since 2001. Clearly, the two ex-oilmen running the Executive Branch have a built-in incentive to do everything within their power to reduce the costs of fuel and to transmit the corresponding benefits on to lowly consumers of such fuel. Right? Right.

So one might have cause to be skeptical when one reads that the Department of Energy has estimated the ANWR reserves at 10 billion barrels, and has predicted that immediately beginning exploitation of those reserves would result in oil reaching the market in significant volume in no less than 9 years, with peak production occurring in 21 years, then going on to predict that such an infusion of production into the market would decrease the price of oil by a maximum of $0.75 per barrel, thereby reducing the price of gasoline to the consumer in the astounding amount of $0.02 per gallon. In 21 years. And then given that the currently-off-limits coastal reserves are estimated at double that of ANWR, rescinding all moratoriums would decrease the price of oil and the price of gasoline by $2.25/bbl and $0.6 $0.06, respectively. In 21 years. And, further, that given the fact that the prices of oil and of gasoline have increased in the amounts of $100/bbl and $3.00 per gallon, respectively, over the last 7 years, then rescinding all relevant moratoriums would mean exactly FUCK-ALL to your average consumer. In 21 years.

The point being: given all of that, which is well-known to all kinds of people in the energy sector (and undoubtedly in the petro-political sector), are we really supposed to believe this story that is being arranged toward us? That these people, all of whom are themselves inextricably intertwined with and/or funded by oil interests, truly see the purpose of rescinding these moratoriums as benefiting us, the lowly gasoline consumers? I think you know the answer to that one.


Anonymous said...

That phrase is now officially being incorporated in my everyday life.

Also, nice job cutting through the bullshit.

Gleemonex said...

I would say less “pro-consumer” than “pro-consumption,” but I definitely agree with your point … arrrgh!

Also: I make my living "arranging stories toward" my employer ... that phrase is HILARIOUSLY apt, and I guarantee you that if I drop it in a meeting or start using it in email, it will become part of our company culture at LIGHT SPEED.

HHL said...

i'm with both of you guys. i think this phrase oughta become an institutionalized part of the lexicon.

and in case it wasn't obvious, that paragraph about the GOP being "pro-consumer" was total snark.