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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 16, 2008 / 13 Tamuz 5768

Throwing gas on the oil fire

By Jonah Goldberg


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Contrary to nearly all received wisdom in Washington, not to mention the rhetoric of the presumptive nominees of both major parties, the scariest moments in American politics are often its most bipartisan. Some would say this was demonstrated in the wake of 9/11, when all those allegedly terrible national security laws were enacted by both parties, or in the run-up to war, when Democrats and Republicans united to topple Saddam Hussein. But I find it is most true when Washington takes a populist turn, which it is doing now with pugnacious stupidity, attacking that classic populist boogeyman: the "oil speculator."


Sen. John McCain has declared the profits of American oil companies "obscene" and wants to hunt down "speculators" with congressional investigations. Sen. Barack Obama also sees "speculation" as the culprit behind our energy woes. Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) blames Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street star chambers. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warns that "we are putting oil speculators on notice." Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid vows to "end speculation on the oil markets." Even former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — who actually knows how markets work and is better at explaining them than any other politician today — says we have to "punish the speculators" for "betting against America."


Et tu, Newt?


Is trying to anticipate the correct price of a commodity now un-American — an act the United States government should seek to punish?


It seems that whenever things go bad and government is largely to blame, politicians look for villains other than themselves.


In 1892, the Populist Party platform warned of "a vast conspiracy against mankind" run by gold bugs, bankers and, yes, "speculators." American populists joined the fascists and socialists of Europe in calling for the heads of those who produced nothing while making vast sums from moving numbers around. The German Workers Party platform promised in 1920 to abolish "incomes unearned by work."


Intellectuals, too, have always had contempt for the men who made money on that bourgeois horror, the market. "His name was George F. Babbitt," wrote left-wing novelist Sinclair Lewis. "He was 46 years old now, in April 1920, and he made nothing in particular, neither butter nor shoes nor poetry, but he was nimble in the calling of selling houses for more than people could afford to pay."


And so it goes today. Never mind that there's no evidence "speculators" — i.e. commodity traders — are doing anything to increase the price of oil. They aren't hoarding it. No one's cornering the market. The speculators make money when the price goes down, and they make money when it goes up. In short, they don't care if oil prices are high or low as long as they guessed correctly.


And that may be the most infuriating part of all this. The speculators don't want high oil prices, but Washington does.


The U.S. government has barred billions of barrels of oil from coming to the market by declaring huge petroleum reserves off-limits to drilling. Uncle Sam stores vast amounts in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, in a petro-lockbox for a rainy day now called "election season." Government — at the federal and state levels — drives up pump prices with gas taxes and regulations against increasing refinery capacity.


What's funny is that oil markets are telling many policymakers what they want to hear. Liberals in particular have insisted for years that the world is approaching — or has passed — the point of "peak oil." This is the idea that we've hit the maximum rate of global oil extraction, so the supply will steadily diminish, causing prices to rise. I'm not personally convinced — though Reason magazine's science correspondent, Ronald Bailey, may be right that we've reached the point of "political peak oil," which is to say that various political inefficiencies mean we can't keep up with demand.


Either way, liberals should be rejoicing. High oil prices not only lend credence to the "peak oil" argument that we need to wean off petroleum, they change consumer behavior far more effectively than environmental hectoring. Americans are driving less, taking mass transit more and ditching SUVs for hybrids without (much) benefit of government subsidies. I think we should drill more, but if the goal is to wean America off oil, things couldn't be going better.


With the laudable exception of McCain's economic advisor, former Sen. Phil Gramm, Republicans seem desperate to show they too feel the pain at the pump by piling on the scapegoat.


One hopes that this shoot-the-messenger bipartisanship represents the moment of "peak hypocrisy" in Washington. But few speculators would take that bet.

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