Hit OPEC Where It Counts

I'm going to address this hub to Senator Obama, mostly since we know the John "Shoot From The Hip" McCain doesn't have a diplomatic bone in his body, and because it is my expectation that Senator Obama will next be known as President Obama. Mr. President, you've just taken office. Gasoline prices, even in the dead of winter, are sitting around $4 a gallon, and many of the people who voted for you in November are hurting. Tackling the cost of gasoline is one of your highest priorities, so what are you going to do?

If you don't mind some free advice, here's what I would do. I would immediately convene a summit somewhere in the middle east and tell the OPEC nations that gas prices at $4.00 a gallon is tantamount to declaring war not only on the United States, but on the rest of the civilized world.

My first thought, when I conceptualized this hub, was that we should tell OPEC that until crude oil prices drop to, say, $40 per barrel, we'll cut off all foreign aid to all OPEC nations. But then I did a little google search and found an article that talked about that very idea. The problem is that most of the oil rich nations do not receive any foreign aid from the United States, so that's not much of a bargaining chip to throw on the table.

But then I found an interesting quotation from former Representative Lee Hamilton, in an article in the CBS News archives titled "Public Enemy #1: OPEC." (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2000/06/23/politics/main209161.shtml)

"We can't approach the middle east simply as an oil problem and try to threaten all of these countries that are friends and allies of ours, whose support we need in order to keep Saddam Hussein in the box, in order for the peace process to go forward," former Rep. Hamilton was quoted as saying.

That quote was made back in 2000, before Osama bin Laden attacked the U.S., before the U.S. attacked the Taliban, and before Boy George Bush lied us into a war against Saddam Hussein. In fact, correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the U.S. depose Hussein? Didn't we do it without help from these OPEC nations? And didn't the Iraqi "government" already execute him? Yeah, I thought so.

So while the august Representative Hamilton's quote may have made sense in 2000, does it still make sense? What have the OPEC nations, particularly those in the Middle East, done for us lately? How valuable are they as allies if they were not even willing to join us in the ill-fated war against Iraq?

In short, it seems to me that there must be something that we have that the OPEC nations want, whether it be military aid or some other incentive that we can say to them, "You're not going to soak us for $140 a barrel for oil and expect us to keep our end of the pipeline flowing."

I don't expect OPEC to roll over and play dead just because President Obama threatens to cut them off. I fully expect they will continue to manipulate the supply of oil as long as they can in order to keep gas and crude oil prices as high as possible for as long as possible. If that is the case, my suggestion to you, Mr. President, would be to take every last dollar that you can squeeze out of those countries and send it right back to the American people, so we can afford to drive to work.


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Comments 15 comments

pgrundy 8 years ago

Interesting hub. I always look forward to your hubs and I like the way you referred to 'President Obama'. My better half and I have a $100 bet on the election. I say Obama will win by a landslide, he says not so much, too many racists left in the US. If Obama wins by 10 percent or more, he pays me the $100, if not, I pay him.

It's win/win for me though because I'll talk him into spending it on me or on us anyway.

My personal opinion is that we need to become as energy independent as we can, then ignore the Mideast.

Time will tell...

Constant Walker profile image

Constant Walker 8 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

Great hub, as always. I think there were quite a few smaller nations who were with us in attacking Iraq (or so claimed GeeDuh!), as well as England. Those that did not were the smart ones. They didn't agree with the so-called reasons Bush presented, and his general attitude.

I think the only way OPEC will lower their prices is when demand for their product starts to fall. They've made it very clear that they intend to take us for as much as they can, while they can.

jedgrey 8 years ago

Thoughtful treatise on a very sensitive subject. Keep on truckin'

crashcromwell profile image

crashcromwell 8 years ago from Florida Author

Constant - Your qualifying statement regarding GeeDuh is the critical point there. So far as I can see, about the only country that really did much of anything to help us was England. His so-called "Coalition of the Willing" was a great work of fiction, in my estimation.

Jedgrey - thanks for trucking by. Hope to see you again!

PGrundy - I hate to say it, but a 10 point win in this day and age would be well outside my ability to expect. I do expect that if Boy George was on the ballot, he would go down by such a margin, but with him gone, and McCain only tied to Bush by his partisan status, I expect he'll make a run at it. Still, I fully expect Obama to prevail, because the Dems have momentum, and for the first time in my life, a real strategy that involves all 50 states. We won't win them all, but I'd bet that Hillary and Bill will help Obama get Arkansas, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Obama win a few of the inland western states. Democrats have been much more competitive out there of late.

crashcromwell profile image

crashcromwell 8 years ago from Florida Author

Constant - Another thought occurs to me on your point. Americans have always been big time consumers of gasoline. Sure, we go through periods when we trade in the SUVs or station wagons in the old days and begin importing more cars from Japan, but we're still driving just as much.

In Maine, where I live, gas consumption during the first quarter of the year was declining. Yet gas prices are continuing to go up. My belief is that the issue here is that the OPEC nations have it all calcualated. As the demand drops, they drop production, to keep the ratio constant. So they pump out less oil and make more money. And they're doing it because they can. There was a time when oil prices were dropping through the floor. I remember a time back in the late 90s when gas prices in my hometown bottomed out at 89 cents a gallon. The only thing that seems to have changed is that now we have a Texas oil man as president, and his vice president is neck deep in crude as well. To me, OPEC has run rampant over the United States because they know there's no way Boy George and company will do a damned thing about it. That's why it's critical that Barack Obama be elected. We need to change the dynamic.

dboman profile image

dboman 8 years ago from Gainesville

While I don't agree with your political views, I strongly agree with you that something needs to be done about gas prices.  Unfortunately, to fully understand this topic, it takes a degree in macroeconomics.  As American consumers (and many reporters) we try to simplify this issue and figure out how to fix it.  We're all guilty of it, including myself.  But the real truth is that it's not simple.  That's why we vote in political leaders...they're supposed to use advisors that DO know how to solve these kinds of problems. It seems to me like our elected leaders aren't doing that.

From my limited knowledge, the main issue is that it's all about supply and demand.  In a free market, as long as our demand for oil is unlimited, the price will continue to go up. That's only the beginning of the economic situation with oil.  I believe that this hub has inspired me to write a hub on the same topic. 

This is the main issue on American minds, but it seems to me like neither of the candidates have a solid plan about our dependence on foreign oil.

crashcromwell profile image

crashcromwell 8 years ago from Florida Author

Oh I agree whole-heartedly about the need to become more energy efficient. I am fascinated by the concept of alternative fuel sources, and wholly support exploring any means to reduce our dependence on oil. The problem, though, is that such technologies take time to be fine-tuned, and what I am talking about is a short-term solution to a long-term problem.

Dbowman, I agree with your premise that the problem comes down to supply and demand. The underlying premise of my hub, however, is that the powers that be in OPEC are intentionally witholding oil, artificially creating a shortage. The Saudis in particlular, as the largest exporter of oil in the world, are implicite in the conspiracy to limit production in order to keep prices high. That's why the thief in chief has appealed to Saudi Arabia (to no avail) to increase production.

In the past, OPEC has not always been able to present a united front, and when one country starts surpassing its predetermined quota, the other members of the cartel follow suit. There must be a reason why oil prices would be as high as they are now, whereas in the past I recall times when the price of oil dropped down into the low 20s per barrel. Something tells me that it's just a little too coincidental to be a coincidence that this oil crisis should occur when there are two noted oilmen in the White House.

dboman profile image

dboman 8 years ago from Gainesville

Eh, I'm not gonna comment further than "I disagree" on the last comment about an oil conspiracy involving the White House (if I interpreted that correctly). But yes, what you said about OPEC is exactly what is happening. The oil producing countries are limiting the supply to create a shortage.

In my opinion, one major reason stands out among the rest. These people are business men, and they know that oil is a limited resource that modern society can not live without. They're not humanitarians, they don't care about the rest of the world. They sit in their giant ballroom of pure gold and watch half-naked women dance around all day (that may be an offensive and wrong stereotype, but I'm making it anyways). The only language they speak is money.

Now it is worthwhile to mention the fact that the dollar is basically firewood at this point, and that doesn't help our situation at all. Inflation here we come!

SirDent 8 years ago

A thought occurred to me as I read this. Are the prices of crude opil rising because the US is still in Iraq and the OPEC members unable to go into Iraq and steal their oil? Something to think about?

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crashcromwell 8 years ago from Florida Author

My understanding is that OPEC, as a cartel, determines how much oil each member nation should produce, in order to maintain production at a predetermined level. If a member state decides it wants to sell more, it can, but I would imagine that there would be intense pressure from the other states to toe the line. Right now, they're marching in lock step, but it hasn't always been that way.

RUTHIE17 8 years ago

Great Hub and very thought provoking.

I think it all boils down to what pgrundy said right at the first of these comments--

"My personal opinion is that we need to become as energy independent as we can, then ignore the Mideast."

Not until we are in charge of our own economy again and can be as independent as we once were, do we stand any chance of coming out of this looming depression that could, just possibly, bring this great country to its knees.

It won't matter that costs for food, shelter, gasoline and medical care are almost beyond the reach of most Americans because we won't have any jobs to go to anyway.  We could become a "third world country" with starving people living in the streets, riots over food and hundreds dying daily.  

Such a possible grim and sad future over the cost of barrels of "black gold" and all the earlier, unheeded warnings of the need to find other energy sources to replace it.

crashcromwell profile image

crashcromwell 8 years ago from Florida Author

I tend to believe that this "shortage" of oil is actually manufactured by the oil producers - tweaking the supply to maximize profits. If I am wrong, and we really are facing a short-fall, then we will really need to be investing in alternative fuel sources, pronto.

There is a delicious sort of irony there that if the world became less dependent on oil, Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves (aka OPEC) could find themselves in a world of hurt.

RUTHIE17 8 years ago


issues veritas 7 years ago


Any new thoughts on the subject?

crashcromwell profile image

crashcromwell 7 years ago from Florida Author

Well, I would certainly say we have made progress since this hub was published, but I am not yet satisfied. I recall when oil was 18 dollars a barrel, and gas prices were under a buck, and that was when Clinton was in office. I don't expect to see prices that low again, but I would be very happy with 1.50 a gallon!

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