Wednesday, February 01, 2006

20% of 60% by 75%

This morning, I forced myself to read Bush's SOTU speech. A couple of things jumped out at me.

First, this:

Keeping America competitive requires us to be good stewards of tax dollars....This year my budget will...reduce or eliminate more than 140 programs that are performing poorly or not fulfilling essential priorities.
For contrast, here's Bush in 2005:
America's prosperity requires restraining the spending appetite of the federal government....My budget substantially reduces or eliminates more than 150 government programs that are not getting results, or duplicate current efforts, or do not fulfill essential priorities.
Kind of interesting, I thought. This chart, which compares budget allocations by size, is helpful when pondering the nature of these cuts.

Second, Bush said that he'd cut imports of Middle East oil by 75% by 2025. It's a ridiculous claim. Currently, we import about 60 percent of our oil, and about 20 percent of those imports come from the Middle East. In other words, Bush is talking about cutting 20 percent of 60 percent by 75 percent, over a period of almost twenty years. This assumes, of course, that ME oil fields will produce at or above recent levels for the next 19 years; in reality, we may end up cutting our imports by a good deal more, whether we want to or not.

There are other logistical problems, too:
[O]il is a commodity freely traded on global markets. Bush offered no explanation for how oil importers would selectively stop buying Middle East oil.

"How do you get large-scale importers to preferentially focus on non-Middle East sources?" asked Ken Stern, an energy analyst for FTI Consulting in New York. "It seems to me that without an economic driving force, it's much more words than action."
Further, although Bush complains about the "instability" of the Middle East, countries like Venezuela, Nigeria, Angola, and Russia are far from stable themselves.

UPDATE: Never mind. It turns out that Bush was just lying again.

3 comments:

Kurt L. said...

Further, although Bush complains about the "instability" of the Middle East, countries like Venezuela, Nigeria, Angola, and Russia are far from stable themselves.

Call me paranoid, but I think that the instability in the regions you mention is to some extent by design: who benefits from instability in resource-producing areas? Answer: the dominant Empire. Us. Or should I say, the U.S. The way I that I see it, whenever you have (violently) competing factions in a region, the situation is ripe for the Empire to fund whomever will sell their souls for power, in exchange for continued resources flowing to the Empire.

Just to give one relatively unassailable example: the unrest in Venezuela over the past couple of years, as well as the near-coup in April of 2002, are likely paid for with our tax dollars (see http://observer.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,6903,688071,00.html for one example of reporting on this).

Just my two cents.

Kurt in Portland

Phila said...

Kurt,

I don't disagree. Although whether it's by design or not is almost beside the point...either way, it's a predictable outcome of the system that's in place, which is inherently unstable and irrational.

monkeygrinder said...

wait - the system or the president is inherently unstable and irrational?