Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Brazil "Nationalizes" Its (Major) Oil (Discovery), and Liberals Up in Arms

James Call: Expert here! A reminder: I am still looking for your questions. But for today, I'll just spiel through this haze of claritin some of our more exciting goings-on.

Today in 2nd-World Countries Nationalizing Oil

So, hey, good news! Brazil has declared that Petrobras (Brazil's oil company, and a notable player in the exciting world of oil companies, sort of the "John Stewart Green Lantern" to the international oil industry's "JLA") straight-up gets the rights to the remainder of the massive deep-sea oil deposits off its coast, which were discovered in 2007. About 38% of these deposits have already been bid away, including to foreign developers. The rest is for BRAZIL!

This is pretty huge shit, becaus the world hasn't weaned itself off of oil yet, and these fields are expected to be amongst the world's more significant oil resources for the, uh, remainder of the oil age, probably. Unless the oil age ends up lasting another century instead of just another four to five decades or so...

The risk to whitey (i.e., consumers, globally) is that Petrobras will bungle the extraction process and not get the oil to the market. This has happened with state-owned oil companies numerous times before. Look at Venezuela's PDVSA if you want, or look at Iran, which has to actually import oil when it should be a major exporter. State-run oil companies just don't get the job done the way private companies do.

But: private companies also tend not to give one solitary shit how the countries they operate in fare. For all that output has dropped in the wake of Hugo Chavez's takeover of PDVSA, the profits from that oil company now go to Venezuela itself. There's plenty of reasons to oppose Chavez, but there's no denying that PDVSA is now working for Venezuela and not the other way around.

So I say good for Brazil. If Petrobras can't get the oil out of the ground in time, well then, oil prices will just have to rise, globally, which will encourage investment in the fuels and energy sources of the future, which is much better than relying on a 19th century energy source proven to be a finite resource, anyways.

Today in Health Care Reform

I have to give some props to the mainstream so-called "liberal" media, for actually acting like liberals, for a change, and sticking it to Prez Obama for backing down on the public option. Specifically, Jon Stewart and Rachel Maddow demonstrated some real cojones on calling Obama on his shit. A health care bill without the public option is weak stuff, and those shitty little "co-ops" aren't going to cut it.

Perhaps these House liberals will surprise us and not back down in threatening to scuttle any bill without a public option? We can get a bill with a public option through the Senate; we just have to live with zero GOP votes, and use reconciliation. It'll be tight, but we can do it. The question is, would Obama lean on the swing Senators to get the job done?

Nate Silver thinks we're being too hard on Obama, not being realistic (by "we" I mean "we liberals who feel betrayed that he's abandoning the public option"), and Mr. Silver is always worth listening to. However, he's also prone to often take a pro-statist, almost anti-progressive view of how business should be conducted in Washington, and I have to disagree with him. I think Pelosi threatening to pull the plug on the whole bill is exactly what is needed.

I don't think Obama is genuine about wanting a public option, but if he is - and he still says he is - then it's time to do this bill through reconciliation, not the normal procedure, because the GOP is going to oppose the health care bill even WITHOUT the public option. So might as well cut them out of the whole process. The Dems, and Obama, will enjoy a 5-point poll bounce once health care reform gets passed - so sez former Prez Clinton, and I have to give Bill Clinton props for political saavy (most of the time), if nothing else. People will completely forget about "socialism" once they have cheap, reliable health care.

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