Japan's People Come Together to Ration Energy While We Continue to Pump Tankerful of Profits Into Big Oil

Aug 02, 2011 | Updated Oct 02, 2011

Certainly you have read the headlines, among them "Big Oil Companies Post Huge Profits...": "The sputtering economy, high unemployment taking huge toll on average Americans." This while Big Oil is posting record profits, with Exxon clocking $10.7 billion, 41 percent more than last year, Shell doubling its profits to $7 billion year over year, Chevron $7.7 billion, and on. The rape of the American consumer goes on unabated. Isn't it time our government finally said "enough is enough". This must stop and we will take forceful action to make it happen.

There are presently ample supplies of oil and gasoline. Yet, that being said, there is a massive shortage of candor and transparency in the pricing of these commodities permitting the oil-ogopoly to price these products practically at will through outright manipulation (OPEC) and through the speculation driven and casino directed trading on the commodity exchanges. The wealth and political power of the oil-ogoply has permitted these distortions to exist for years while we pay, pay, pay as our economy goes down the drain. It is time we insisted that our government exercise leadership and take action to bring this perverse excess back into line. (please see "The Billion Dollar Day Extortion: A Somnolent Administration and Dysfunctional Congress' Gift to the American People").

In a situation somewhat analogous to which we find ourselves, the Japanese have willingly assumed a shared sense of purpose by rationing electricity since the nuclear disaster at he Fukushima Daiichi plant that has left only 17 of Japan's 54 reactors in operation. Preliminary figures have shown that the originally mandated consumption restrictions have not only been met, but exceeded. This in a nation that already had been consuming half as much energy per capita as the United States according to studies made by the United Nations Population Fund.

But the cut back in electric power usage has not been achieved simply by government edict. The power of social coercion is a mighty force. Not cooperating is sorely frowned upon. "We are doing this for Japan" goes the theme of citizenship and shared sacrifice.

Those in Japan old enough to remember, recall the restrictions imposed during World War II. They same could be said in categorizing our current experience with the oil companies, OPEC and their allies. In a very real sense we are at war with them, while they proudly flag their war booty trumpeting the billions on their bottom lines, achieved on the backs of the American worker and industry, and the millions of shattered home budgets they have brought to ruin.

Perhaps the moment has come to face the realities of these facts and to change course in a fundamental way. That given the distortions at hand, is it not time to set limits on the use of gasoline throughout the nation by mandating consumption ceilings that would apply to gasoline only, while alternative fuels would be unencumbered? At the outset, implementing a national gasoline consumption ceiling that would not be onerous, but would be decreased annually over a period of, say, ten years, permitting the general public to adjust to the new reality by changing the nation's car fleet to alternative powered vehicles at a prudent pace; to hybrids, electric powered cars, biomass, and yes Mr. T. Boone Pickens, to cars powered by the newly abundant and American sourced natural gas.

Would the program add a new layer of bureaucracy? Yes. But the savings to the public would far outweigh the cost. Consider, a drop of $10bbl in the price of crude would save consumers some $200 million a day (we consume about 20 million barrels of crude oil daily) or $730 billion a year. A tax incentive program to convert America's car fleet to the more energy efficient and environmentally friendly transportation vehicles would be another powerful incentive, and probably keep Detroit humming for decades.

A program could be devised, using up to date Internet technology, through the issuance magnetic/debit card vouchers to all car owners who would be free to use their 'voucher' miles themselves or market those for which they had no need. Special non-transferable vouchers could be issued to businesses where cars and trucks are legal business expenses, as well as to car owners living say more than 20 miles from their place of work, and where mass transportation is not readily available.

Critics will say, if the unused vouchers are available for sale, that means only the well to do will be able to drive if and when the spirit takes them. Well perhaps yes, but how much better than all of us paying it to the oil companies and their OPEC brethren. Better that it goes to those of us domestically, who would restrain their driving habits.

Most importantly, given the governmental miasma in which we find ourselves, it would give a sense of shared solidarity and a vision of what we can achieve if we worked together for the common good. Will there be those who will try to take advantage of the program. Of course. But perhaps, as in Japan, there will rise a sense of "We are doing this for America", and a sense of sharing that would bring serious societal opprobrium to those flaunting the public will. In many ways it would help reassert America's moral leadership and importantly, serve as an example for others to follow in our path. Should that come to pass, OPEC's days would be numbered.