While the drop in oil prices was interpreted by many as a passing of the insanity and the harbinger of a return to modest gas prices of previous decades, the fact remains that the long-term trend in oil prices is up - and way up. An article on today's Fortune/CNN website discusses oil investor and 2001 Cheney Energy Commission member Matthew Simmons educated view on the matter, who foresees a not-too-distant price of $500 bbl. If we think the economy is in danger of imploding due to bad debt, we ain't seen nothing yet. And, unlike our current situation, where salvation can come from overworking of government printing presses, there's no government program imaginable that can come up with a way to replace rapidly decreasing quantities of oil. Our military can expect to be working overtime - more than ever - to secure what overseas oil reserves are still underground, while we lazily and heedlessly continue our happy motoring paradise blithely unaware of the coming day when we won't be able to afford to fill our tanks with worthless dollars. Neither of our Presidential candidates dare speak the truth about this issue to the American electorate, with the one candidate who claims "country first" telling us that our future energy policy will be "drill, baby, drill" and the other candidate delusively pandering to the eco-Left by promising that we can run our military-industrial civilization on diffused sunlight and french fry oil. Neither is willing to level with the public that we have to change our behavior, because each knows that such a suggestion is the sure path to electoral defeat. Simmons, on the other hand - having no public office in his future - tells it like it has to be:
Simmons believes that a radical change in the way we live is inevitable. "We should basically be going back to creating a village economy, so that we really reduce the energy intensity of how we live," he says. "We need bigtime conservation, not feel-good conservation. Make things where they're used. You'll end long-distance commuting, and we have the tools to do that now with webcams. Grow food locally. Grow food in your backyard. If they're not commuting, people will have time to do that.
A democracy that cannot govern itself is arguably not a democracy at all, which makes the craven appeals that mark each candidate in the upcoming election less a symbol and accomplishment of our self-sovereignty than an indication of our enslavement to appetites over which we have no control. This latter condition was defined by the ancients as a condition of servitude, not liberty. Our leaders fear to tell us the truth, but their fear of electoral defeat pales in comparison to our unwillingness to level with ourselves.