“How Obama and the Democrats will Destroy the U.S. Economy” by Alan Caruba at:
Rid The Sea Lanes Of Piracy.
I reside just minutes from the Atlantic Ocean and the coast of North Carolina and those barrier Islands along our coast which made for wonderful hiding places for the pirates of yesteryear. The Coast of North Carolina is drenched in folklore about pirates. The infamous Blackbeard was captured here and decapitated. The sports teams of at least one noted university here are named “The Pirates.” So, we Tar Heels have a colorful history of interaction with pirates as does our sister state to the south. .
That was then. This is now.
Again the high seas are infested with pirates. Their aim is the same… to rob and steal. But now, they have added ransom.
Recently we heard of an Ocean Liner being attacked, but managing to speed away. A few days later, in the same waters, a freighter was attacked. It, too, managed to get away. As I write, at least one of the largest vessels afloat, an oil tanker, is being held for ransom by a handful of modern day blackhearts in full view of the world, and the world’s navies, including warships of the US Navy.
Our own Caribbean is littered with modern day pirates. Yachts disappear to show up at some other location, with a different registration, and different name. Sometimes passengers disappear, too.
On at least two different occasions in our history, under two Presidents, Thomas Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt, the US Navy, and Marines, had to rid the coast of Africa of pirates. The Barbary Coast Pirates.
I bring up these particular pirates because they were based along the African coast, mainly the North African coast. The pirates we seem to be having the most trouble with today are also on the African coast, but the east African coast…the coast of Somalia to be more exact. So far this year, alone, those pirates have attacked over 90 ships. They have managed to hijack 39 freighters, tankers, and fishing vessels. At least 14 of them are currently anchored, under heavy guard, off pirate villages along the coast of Somalia. Estimates run as high as 30 million dollars paid in ransom money.
Turns out it is not as easy today as it used to be to take on the pirates. All sorts of national and international laws tie the hands of governments and makes them less than eager to take on a couple of dozen men with small arms and two or three rubber boats. But there is an outfit, based here in North Carolina, eager to do what the governments of the world sea powers are reluctant to do. I speak, of course, of Blackwater Worldwide.
Equipped with their own warship, the McArthur, Blackwater is looking to provide a new service to the merchant navies of the world. Blackwater offers to escort paying customer’s ships through the pirate infested waters, safely. Their plan is simple: Issue verbal warnings to approaching vessels which appear to have piracy in mind, followed by a few shots in the air, and if that fails… then the sharpshooters aboard a couple of helicopters, flown from the deck of the McArthur, will do their job by taking out as many barefooted pirates as it takes to discourage the attack.
Already Blackwater is receiving inquiries from dozens of shipping companies and shipping insurance companies concerning Backwater’s services in escorting their ships through the world’s most dangerous waters.
There is an excellent article on all of this at:
The country of Somalia still has no functioning government and it is a breeding ground for this type of activity.
Teddy Roosevelt, the last President of the United States to deal with Barbary Pirates, had the opportunity to use the big stick he carried and, he did just that. He sent seven battleships from the Atlantic Fleet to the North African Coast. It worked and the pirates backed down.
This blight on the oceans will not go away if we turn a blind eye. It will get worse. Eventually they will manage to stop and board a passenger liner and death and destruction will be the result. Or, terrorists will seize an oil tanker, sail her into the harbor of one of the world’s great cities, and blow it up with unbelievable death and devastation as the result.
Now is the time to hunt them down and destroy them… even if that means following them to their center of operations in the seacoast villages of the country, or countries, providing them safe haven.
J. D. Longstreet
Turning Boom into Bust
By Alan Caruba
Energy is called “the master resource” because every other aspect of life operates off of it. Nations that are rich in energy resources such as oil, natural gas, and coal, grow wealthy.
There is also something called “the curse of oil” because, if the price per barrel drops, the fate of some nations goes with it. This is the case, for example, of the former Soviet Russia whose government collapsed when it could no longer secure hard currency when oil and gas prices fell. Venezuela is an economic basket case these days, having nationalized oil and most of its financial and business sectors.
The history of nationalized oil and gas-rich nations is that they tend not to invest in their energy industries. They do not engage in sufficient exploration. They do not expand their capacity to extract their natural resources or to refine it. We have seen otherwise oil-rich nations like Mexico encounter financial tremors as in the 1990s when the Clinton administration had to loan Mexico billions to keep it functioning.
America has adopted anti-energy policies because of incessant environmental propaganda about “dirty” coal, out of the fear of nuclear power, and the refusal to permit exploration of 85% of the continental shelf and, of course, Alaska’s ANWR area, a tiny fraction of that State’s landmass.
If Congress imposes a windfall profits tax on the American oil industry, it will quite simply wreck the economy. As my friend, Seldon B. Graham, Jr., a longtime oil industry attorney as well as a petroleum engineer, points out, “”President Jimmy Carter started the ethanol subsidy on November 9, 1978 and signed the oil windfall profits tax on April 2, 1980.”
In effect, Carter put in motion an anti-oil policy that has existed for over three decades. Why is that a bad thing? The ethanol policy has severely disrupted the price of food worldwide as corn is diverted into fuel. The justification for this is “energy independence” from the purchase of foreign oil, but U.S.-produced oil has always been cheaper than imported oil.
If, however, the government creates conditions under which it is simply too risky, too expensive or prohibited to explore for more oil reserves, obviously oil production declines. There has been a 59% decline in U.S. oil production since 1980, the year the windfall profits tax was imposed. It was later repealed, but U.S. oil companies have a responsibility to their investors to act prudently and that has driven them to explore for oil outside of the U.S. or, to put it another way, to find foreign oil.
When you add in the idiotic ethanol mandates, you compound the problem. Graham points out that, “After thirty years, U.S. ethanol production was only able to produce less than 3% of our oil demand last year.” Moreover, “ethanol cost taxpayers $3.3 billion in subsidies in 2007.” Environmental claims that ethanol is cleaner than oil are false. Not only do you get less energy and poor mileage when ethanol is blended with gasoline, it actually emits more carbon dioxide per mile. “It is absolutely impossible for ethanol to replace foreign oil,” says Graham.
The justification for a windfall profits tax on oil companies ignores, for example, that ExxonMobil, just one of the few remaining oil companies operating in the U.S., pays more than $100 billion in taxes on the average.
Less than 11% of ExxonMobil’s profits come from marketing and refining in the United States and the company recently announced it was spinning off its retail outlets. Yes, it made great profits in recent years, but it also had enormous, risk-filled expenses.
Imposing a windfall profits tax on oil companies will give them cause to consider moving their corporate headquarters to other more congenial nations. The city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates has been engaged in a vast office building effort, perhaps anticipating the movement of corporate headquarters.
Americans greeted the expiration of the ban on offshore exploration and drilling with the expectation that American oil would begin to flow and thus lower their costs for this vital national asset. That will not happen if the President or a Democrat controlled Congress reinstates the ban and/or imposes a windfall profits tax.
The city of Houston has been enjoying a boom due to the increase in the cost of a barrel of oil. Even at $80 dollars a barrel, it is enough to have created “its strongest resurgence in more than 20 years” according to a 2007 New York Times article about Houston. “Some energy companies are expanding and putting up new buildings.” Others, like Schlumberger among the hundreds of service providers to the energy industry have established their headquarters in Houston.
Houston is home to the headquarters of ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, and foreign owned companies like Citgo, BP and Royal Dutch Shell also maintain corporate offices there.
About half of Houston’s jobs, an estimated 1.1 million positions, are tied to the energy industry. The impact of a windfall profits tax would prove devastating to Houston.
Destroying the oil industry in America, a process that has been in place since the Carter administration, has left the nation vulnerable to foreign sources. The U.S. already imports some 70% of its oil. There has been a significant decline in the exploration and development of national reserves.
Unleashing the energy industries in America could dramatically improve our present financial troubles. Congress, having turned boom into bust, has a historical opportunity to reverse that trend.
Editor’s Note: “Why Your Gasoline Prices Are High” by Seldon B. Graham ($10.95) is available from Amazon.com.
© Alan Caruba, November 2008