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Commentary Last Updated: Mar 7th, 2008 - 00:42:20

Get a horse!
By Jerry Mazza
Online Journal Associate Editor

Mar 7, 2008, 00:36

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This was the major insult hurled at owners of early motorcars, putt-putting or stalling along America�s rutted road to the future. Yet today, having arrived there, with the automobile at its most luxurious, powerful, and gas gluttonous, the old saying deserves another run. Motorists, get a horse!

To begin with, the price of sweet crude for April delivery has zoomed past $103.76 per barrel. That is considered by many analysts, the New York Times reports, to be the real record high for oil, even after its $38 barrel price from 1980 is recalculated in 2008 dollars.

And speaking of dollars, the Fed�s policy of cutting interest rates has helped the dollar reach a new low of $1.5275 against the euro. You may consider changing your vacation to the Coast of Coney Island instead of the C�te D�Azur. That is, if you can afford a vacation on either coast. We should all consider bringing back this metaphorical horse (if not Pegasus, the winged horse) in lieu of gas-produced horsepower, in our cities, suburbs and rural areas.

In fact, I propose a National Get A Horse Month, particularly to honor all the horse�s asses in Washington who have overspent our Treasury to the max on war, tax cuts to the rich and a pathetic under-investment in alternative forms of energy, while our Texas Oil friends (who have plenty of horses, thank you) have gotten rich on the outrageous rise in oil prices. It doesn�t take a rocket scientist to figure this out. Exxon Mobil once again is having its best year ever.

Regarding the Iraq War, in particular, the New York Times� Bob Herbert called it The $2 Trillion Nightmare. He wrote, �The war in Iraq will ultimately cost U.S. taxpayers not hundreds of billions of dollars, but an astonishing $2 trillion, and perhaps more. There has been very little in the way of public conversation, even in the presidential campaigns, about the consequences of these costs, which are like a cancer inside the American economy.�

Herbert went to say, �On Thursday, the Joint Economic Committee, chaired by Senator Chuck Schumer, conducted a public examination of the costs of the war. The witnesses included the Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz (who believes the overall costs of the war � not just the cost to taxpayers � will reach $3 trillion), and Robert Hormats, vice chairman of Goldman Sachs International.� And here�s the kicker . . .

�Both men talked about large opportunities lost because of the money poured into the war. �For a fraction of the cost of this war,� said Mr. Stiglitz, �we could have put Social Security on a sound footing for the next half-century or more.��

Is it any wonder the earlier Times financial report said: �The struggling dollar has prompted a wave of speculative buying by oil investors seeking a safe haven from the ongoing volatility of the stock market. Such speculation can become self-perpetuating, driving prices higher and attracting even more speculators.

�Many analysts believe oil prices aren�t justified by crude�s underlying supply and demand fundamentals, and are due to fall at some point. While supply disruptions in Nigeria and the prospect of supply cutoffs from Iraq and Venezuela helped boost oil prices last year, domestic oil inventories are now rising even as a number of forecasters are cutting their demand growth predictions due to the slowing economy.�

Well, in plain English that means speculators are buying up oil instead of other equities more likely to bounce up or down in price, because they believe the oil price-gouging of the average American consumer will continue. I might suggest to President Bush that he �get a horse� for this economy and start shoveling the mess he�s made of it, not-so-lame duck that he is.

Of course �our friends� at OPEC are meeting next Wednesday to take a look at production levels. It is expected that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to hold output steady.

Also, has anybody noticed that the Big Three American Automakers have all showed substantial losses in this quarter, and that even Honda showed a mere .07 percent profit. Yet, Detroit�s horses� asses keep pounding out the SUVs, huge pickup trucks, and sell the �power of it all.� Oh man, get yourself some Viagra. What you drive is not what�s stuffed in your jeans, gents and ladies.

Of course, I realize being the country that�s most powerful, most able to blow up and kill things in the world, comes with a certain responsibility for even the humblest among us to live that way, from power mowers to power boats to power pickups to pull the horse trailers. Somehow we�ve got it backwards.

In fact, I was taking a quiet walk in the snowy woods, not far from a New York state park, just a few days ago, when some ding-a-ling in a power snowmobile came busting down the road whose sign reads, �No vehicles allowed.� Some woman walking in front me practically threw herself in front of the stinkpot, shouting, �You don�t belong here, go way.� But the gasoholic kept rolling, even past me as I turned both my thumbs down as he breezed by, and turned both my middle fingers up as he passed.

People, on the everyday level, just don�t seem to get it. I don�t think I get it, because I drive my car cross town in Manhattan to run errands. I used to walk. But I caught the car addiction. Maybe my sister-in-law in South Dakota would teach me to ride a horse. It would look something like Billy Crystal in City Slickers. But hey, we all have to try.

Meanwhile analysts are estimating away. Optimists see a decline to $67/70 for a barrel. Others see oil soar as high as $120 a barrel �as investment capital continues to flow to oil markets from overseas.� It seems bleeding our economy dry is becoming an international growth industry. There�s more than a bit of irony to that.

As a sidebar, the high production of biofuels to supplement fossil fuels has brought about a 41 percent surge in prices for wheat, corn, rice and other cereals over the past six months. This is limiting our emergency aid to poor nations, reports the Washington Post. We may be one of those nations in the not-so-distant future if this keeps up.

Our Energy Department�s Energy Information Administration�s latest prediction is that oil will average about $86 a barrel in 2008. That�s up 19 percent, friends, from 2007, when oil averaged $72 a barrel. Do the math for the future and you can see how getting a horse, a bike, roller skates, skateboards, alternative-powered vehicles, or actually walking more may be de rigueur.

You can definitely count on oil prices to keep surging as our military budgets surge. As of Monday, a gallon of gas was $3.165. Actually, in New York City it was up around $3.35 for a gallon of regular. Spring and summer are coming, so get ready for an upward bounce, conceivably to $4 a gallon.

What can we do in the face of all this? Well, obviously ride Bush and the Republicans the hell out of office, not to mention some slacker Democrats. Break the nexus of government and the oil industry (the same which helped cost JFK his life when he was about to cut oil depletion allowances big-time back in the early 60s).

Stop this money-draining, fuel-and-blood sucking war in Iraq as well as in Afghanistan. And let us stop, I mean stop, playing World Cop in the so-called War on Terror, which we invented as a result of blaming 9/11 on the Muslims, not our own corrupt insiders and their friends, the Mossad, who were behind it. Do your homework if you disagree and find out about it.

Oh, and while we�re at it, let�s cut that $3 billion a year to Israel and allow these fantastically gifted, imaginative people to make it on their own. As the old saying goes, �Charity begins at home.� Charity as well as simple thrift, not living our lives in ongoing debt, thinking we�re �owed� everything advertising tells us we deserve. This means curtailing debt sharply, from credit cards to subprime mortgages to ever-expanding budget deficits, which all add up to $9 trillion dollars in national debt.

Remember back in WW II, that other war we were in to save the world from fascism, not Islamofascism (a contradiction in terms), but real fascism, corporate statism with dictatorial, world-gobbling leaders, like Hitler, Mussolini, Hirohito. Back then, we rationed gasoline for the �war effort.� I haven�t heard that word �rationing� since 1945, when I was 7 years old.

Unfortunately, it was back then, when we discovered the Mideast could be our gas station during the war, that it all started to go wrong, that is, we sewed up the Saudi supply, got used to that dirt cheap sweet crude, sucked up Iraq's and Iran�s, and anyone else�s we could get our hands on. Now, China is waiting in line behind us. Russia, due to its deep-drilling initiatives has oil and gas to spare, and we have to get real.

This whole business of the New World Order has been about controlling energy resources, mostly of others, starting with GHW Bush�s speech on 9/11 1990, on the eve of starting the Gulf 1 War.

But in order to change, which every candidate is promising, we have, guess what, to change. Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Al was a hell of a smart guy, also responsible for the Theory of Relatively and the atomic bomb. Somehow all those forces are still in play when it comes to a barrel of oil and our addiction to it.

You want change? For the last time, get a horse. You know what I mean.

Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer living in New York. Reach him at

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