Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Energy Crisis of 1973, Tomcats and Cars

This week we had new carpet (made of recycled plastic bottles) put down throughout the upper floor of of our tiny home. To prepare for this traumatic event my husband and I moved boxes of stuff from closets and bookshelves to the lower floor. Today, we are putting stuff back and I came across a notebook filled with tear sheets of my old newspaper stories. This blog is a result of that discovery.

In the fall of 1973 I was working for a small newspaper in Virginia while the U.S. was experiencing its first oil shortages. One November issue of the weekly featured a huge photograph of railroad cars piled high with coal awaiting export to places around the globe. A sudden surge in the demand for coal had clogged up supply lines as unexpected demands for
shipping vessels were unmet in the short term.

Stories on the frontpage discussed solar energy research, the increasing demand for coal and the local demand for electricity. (I think the issue a week before had featured photos of closed gas stations and cars lined up around the block at stations that were still open.) One in particular caught my eye. The headline: "Local refinery still depends on Iran." For a moment I was confused. The oil crisis of 1973 was a result of the Arab Oil Embargo of Western nations during the Yom Kippur War. Then I realized Iran was not considered an Arab country. Its people were and are still Persians. I turned to an internet search to find out more and learned that in 1973, one of America's most powerful allies, the Shah, was still in power in Iran. I also learned that the Nixon Administration had just sold a bunch of Tomcat airplanes to Iran. The story was old but had been updated last December. It went on to say that Iran still owns about 30 Tomcats and that the planes are capable of carrying payloads which has turned out to be a problem for the U.S. and Israel.

Check this out at:

The following entry from Wikipedia explains the causes of the 1973 oil crisis:

The 1973 oil crisis began on October 17, 1973, when the members of Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC, consisting of the Arab members of OPEC plus Egypt and Syria) announced, as a result of the ongoing Yom Kippur War, that they would no longer ship oil to nations that had supported Israel in its conflict with Syria and Egypt (the United States, its allies in Western Europe, and Japan).

About the same time, OPEC members agreed to use their leverage over the world price-setting mechanism for oil in order to raise world oil prices, after the failure of negotiations with the "Seven Sisters" earlier in the month. Because of the dependence of the industrialized world on crude oil and the predominant role of OPEC as a global supplier, these price increases were dramatically inflationary to the economies of the targeted countries, while at the same time suppressive of economic activity. The targeted countries responded with a wide variety of new, and mostly permanent, initiatives to contain their further dependency...

Despite being a target of the embargo as well, Japan fared particularly well in the aftermath of the world energy crisis of the 1970s compared to other oil-importing developed nations. Japanese automakers led the way in an ensuing revolution in car manufacturing. The large automobiles of the 1950s and 1960s were replaced by far more compact and energy efficient models. (Japan, moreover, had cities with a relatively high population density and a relatively high level of transit ridership.)[citations needed]

A few months later, the crisis eased. The embargo was lifted in March 1974 after negotiations at the Washington Oil Summit, but the effects of the energy crisis lingered on throughout the 1970s. The price of energy continued increasing in the following year, amid the weakening competitive position of the dollar in world markets.

The crisis was further exacerbated by government price controls in the United States, which limited the price of "old oil" (that already discovered) while allowing newly discovered oil to be sold at a higher price, resulting in a withdrawal of old oil from the market and artificial scarcity. The rule had been intended to promote oil exploration.[8] This scarcity was dealt with by rationing of gasoline (which occurred in many countries), with motorists facing long lines at gas stations.

In the U.S., drivers of vehicles with license plates having an odd number as the last digit (or a vanity license plate) were allowed to purchase gasoline for their cars only on odd-numbered days of the month, while drivers of vehicles with even-numbered license plates were allowed to purchase fuel only on even-numbered days.[9] The rule did not apply on the 31st day of those months containing 31 days, or on February 29 in leap years — the latter never came into play, since the restrictions had been abolished by 1976...

Coupons for gasoline rationing were ordered in 1974 and 1975 for Federal Energy Administration, but were never actually used for this crisis or the 1979 energy crisis. [11]

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The unbearable costs of Empire: from an address by Michael Ruppert, 2004

What we are witnessing now is a collision: a collision of a financial system relying on fractional reserve banking, debt-financed growth, and a fiat currency system with a planet and energy resources that are finite, limited, and running out. Infinite growth is battling with finite energy. One is not possible without the other and I have absolutely no doubt as to which side will win.

In November 2002 James Kenneth Galbraith wrote an article titled "The Unbearable Costs of Empire":
None of these problems will be cured so long as war remains our dominant political theme. But serious though they are, they pale in comparison with the larger problem of the international trade-and-financial order under conditions of permanent war. It is a straightforward fact that if global oil production starts to decline but U.S. consumption does not, everyone else will be required to cut purchases and uses of oil. But how can oil prices be held stable for Americans yet be made to rise for everyone else? Only by a policy of continuing depreciation in everyone else's currency. Such a policy of dollar hegemony amid worldwide financial instability, of crushing debt burdens and deflation throughout the developing world, is perverse. It will make our trading partners' exports cheap, render their imports dear and keep their real wages low. It will price American goods out of world markets and lead to unsustainable dependence on foreign capital. It will be a policy, in short, of beggar-all-of-our-neighbors while we live alone, in increasing idleness and inside the dollar bubble.
This is the policy that Bush and Cheney are actually imposing on the rest of the world. But they cannot make it last. It will make lives miserable elsewhere, generating ever more resistance, terrorism and military engagement. Meanwhile, we will not experience even gradual exposure to the changing energy balance; we will therefore never make the investments required to adjust, even eventually, to a world of scarce and expensive oil. In the end, therefore, that world will arrive much more abruptly than it otherwise would, shaking the fragile edifice of our oil economy to its foundations. And we will someday face a double explosion: of anger against our arrogance and of actual shortage and collapsing living standards, when the confidence of investors in the dollar finally gives way.
Compared with this future, a new commitment to collective security, to a new world financial structure, to a rational energy and transportation policy, and to spending to meet our actual domestic needs would be a bargain. At the end of the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin was asked what type of government the framers had given our new country. He famously replied, "A republic, if you can keep it."

In 49 BC Julius Caesar, fresh from a battlefield victory in central Italy ordered his legions to cross a small creek called the Rubicon. Under the laws of the Roman Republic, the army was not allowed to enter the capital city.

As Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon, the Roman Republic died and the Roman Empire was born.

Our task, if we and much of human civilization are to survive, is not to keep our republic, but to take it back.
Thank you

Address of Michael C. Ruppert
To the Commonwealth Club – San Francisco
Tuesday August 31, 2004

Posted: Tue - October 12, 2004 at 11:50 AM Dacha Dude Weblog Guilty

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Please Pray For Zimbabwe

Posted on Brother Martin's Advocacy site on, April 17, 2008. This is from Margaret Kriel's Morning Mirror, please try and pass it on to as many people as you can. the situation of Zimbabawe is worse than here in the Philippines in terms of food crisis and economic problem. Prayer is the last resort I think. Many thanks.

Dear World,

I am a 16 year old person living in Zimbabwe . I think the time has come for a more direct appeal, and so I am writing to you, the world.

Maybe, just maybe, there might be someone out there who can help us...

It's tough here now. The inflation rate is so high that if you don't change money within 6 hours you could get half the amount of foreign currency that you would have originally received.

We're starving now; people die around us. In the last year alone at least ten people associated personally with my family have died despite the fact that they were only
middle-aged. Other people don't make it to middle age. They don't even make it past childhood.

Our once-proud nation is on it's knees. We flee or die. This beautiful, bountiful once-rich land has become a living hell. We have dealt with it until now; we have made a plan. That was the Zimbabwean motto: "MAKE A PLAN".

But now we can't make a plan. We're too tired, too broken, too bankrupt. We can't afford life, and life does not cost much, not really. We cannot afford to eat, we cannot afford to drink, and we cannot afford to make mistakes, because if we do we die. We don't have the capital to support ourselves, and those few who do, have to deal with the horror of watching their friends and family fall into absolute poverty as they cannot afford to help them.

We're waiting desperately for a great hand to pick us up out of the dirt because at the moment we are outnumbered by Fate herself, and so we close our eyes and pray. We have fought for too long, and have been brought to breaking point. We simply stand, heads down, and bear it. Our spirit has gone; we are defeated. After a valiant struggle of over fifteen years, we have been broken.

There is no will left, no spirit. Like a horse that has been beaten until it cannot fight anymore; we are the same, and, like that horse, we stand dusty, scarred and alone, with dried blood on our sides and lash marks along our flanks. Our ribs too stand out; our hide is also dull. Our eyes are glazed, our throats are parched, and our knees struggle to support us so that we stand with splayed legs to bear the brunt of the next beating, too dejected even to whimper...

This is my plea. The thought of picking ourselves up again is sickening; one can only take so many blows before oblivion is reached, and we are teetering on the rim of the bottomless void. One more push will be the end of us all...There must be someone out there who can do something. There must be someone out there who cares! We are a destroyed nation, and the world sits back and watches, pretending they cannot hear our cries. I appeal to you all...