Matt Forney
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The Sick Man of the West

Over at Spootville, Tim muses on how Obama’s policies have worked to increase gas prices:

Gas prices are high, did destroying cars help? Did preventing an oil delivery system reduce gas costs? Did banning drilling in shallow water prevent shoreline damage? Did banning all offshore drilling reduce gas costs? Does having taxpayers pay to put corn in their cars reduce gas (or food) prices?  Does requiring 35 mpg cars sound like fun?

This is all true, but let me mention the third rail of the oil market: speculators.

Both liberals and conservatives/libertarians hate hearing about the massive role oil speculators play in butt-fucking the economy. The liberals hate it because it smashes open their neo-Luddite fantasy of making Americans drive around in “eco-friendly” clown cars and ripping up city downtowns with light rail lines. Conservatives and libertarians hate it because it demolishes their claim that we live in a rational free market in which the only problem is evil socialist regulation.

I don’t have my copy on hand, but Matt Taibbi’s Griftopia showed how fluctuating oil/gas prices are almost entirely the result of Wall Street oil speculators, who were given the green light to play roulette with the economy after futures were deregulated in the 1990’s. Taibbi also showed that Chinese and Indian oil consumption—which both liberals and conservatives blame for skyrocketing gas prices—has barely budged in the past decade, and mathematically can’t be responsible for the rising prices.

The mainstream, regardless of political ideology, thinks high oil prices are a reality we have to live with. But what if they weren’t?

The great oil boom/bust of 2008, when gas prices inexplicably spiked in the summer (going as high as $4-5 a gallon in some places) only to collapse in the fall, was almost entirely the result of oil speculators. Add in Obama’s suicidal environmental policies that Tim listed off, and we’ve got a replay of history in process. When I first rolled into Madison last month, gas was around $3.23 a gallon, at least half-a-buck cheaper than in neighboring Illinois; now it’s around $3.99. Wisconsin is a low-tax state, so I can only imagine what the poor folks in New York and California are paying.

As little interest as I pay to politics, all the defeatist conservatives and triumphalist liberals who think Obama’s got re-election in the bag irritate the hell out of me. Everyone thinks that Obama’s victory back in 2008 was guaranteed, but they forget that as milquetoast as he was, John McCain was actually a competitive candidate for most of the campaign. After he picked Sarah Palin for his running mate, his numbers actually spiked to the point to where he was within striking distance of Obama even in true blue states like New York. It wasn’t until the economy cratered in October that Obama was able to decisively pull ahead.

No, I’m not going to predict that Obama will lose. But neither am I going to arrogantly claim I can predict the future with pinpoint accuracy.

If I’m right, we’re looking at another speculator-driven boom/bust, only the aftereffects will be even more painful due to the one-two punch of Obama’s environmental policies and the hydrofracking craze. If the bust happens before the election, Mitt Romney will see a big boost in the polls, but if you think either one will be able to fix the problem—or even attempt to—you’re crazy. Every politician on the national stage, Democrat or Republican, is part of the System, and the System’s reason for existing is to extract as much blood and treasure out of we, the great unwashed, until our veins run dry.

During the later years of the Belle Epoque, the Ottoman Empire was derisively referred to as the “Sick Man of Europe.” Centuries before, the Ottomans had been strong enough to make the kings of western Europe tremble with fear: their armies leveled Constantinople, laid siege to Vienna, and their empire spanned from Algeria to the Horn of Africa. By the late 19th century, the Ottomans were a punchline, weakened by internal revolts, their leadership a bunch of fat degenerates more concerned with smoking opium and raping little boys than actually leading. The English, Russians and other European powers saw the Turks as a shared buffet, new territories to add to their growing empires. Even the Italians, a people whose cowardice is only matched by their martial incompetence, was able to kick the Ottomans around and steal their territories.

America is the Sick Man of the West.

We’re a deluded old codger with no influence or power. Our country is being sold piecemeal to foreign entities for a quick buck. Our wars always end with us fleeing with our tails between our legs. Our leaders’ only concern is ripping us off, down to stealing the pennies in our back pockets.

Don’t listen to the old farts who get their news from Diane Sawyer and Sean Hannity.

Don’t vote.

Don’t do more than the bare minimum you need to get by.

Don’t spend any more than you need to.

The System is a vampire and it’s sucking you dry. Get its filthy wet lips off your neck and live for yourself.

Read Next: Hydrofucked