Saturday, May 21, 2005

End of Suburbia...

As a follow to my last post on the various links between economy, religion and space--particularly suburban space--I thought I just might bring you a picture from my neighborhood.

Yes, there are a couple of oil wells down the street from me and, yes, Virginia, they blow up. So, according to the Whittier Daily News, "One of the workers, a 49-year- old man, suffered second- and third-degree burns over 70 percent of his body. He was taken to a local hospital and later transferred to a burn center in Sherman Oaks."

I guess that's another argument for driving your car on vegetable oil, huh?

To get back to the larger point, the fire I saw bellowing from the well the other day reminded me of the real economy of the suburban "dream," which is built on fire and oil. Usually we are able to hide it, usually we ignore its costs (wars, pollution, etc.). What are those costs? As I was driving in to work, I saw yet again one of those magnetic ribbon car stickers with the American Flag on it and the words "The Price of Freedom." Well, if people really knew what the "price of freedom" was, they would understand that the real price of that oil burning in their--my!!!--backyard.

So, I decided to do a little calculation, just for fun. (Don't laugh, I'm not an economist or a mathematician).

According to Nationmaster we use 19.7 million barrels of crude per day in the United States. That comes out to 7.19 billion barrels per year. According to the Energy Department, "One barrel (42 gallons) of crude oil , when refined, produces approximately 19.9 gallons of finished motor gasoline." That means about 47% of a barrel of oil is use for gasoline. That means we burn about 3.3 billion "barrels" of gas, or 138.6 billion gallons.

So, now let's trot on over to Cost of War.

So far we have spent at least 171 billion dollars on the war, and that's not counting our annual defense bugdet.

So, let's just calculate this over a two year period (171/2) to make things simple (March 2003-March 2005).

138.6 billion gallons of gas per year / 85.5 billion dollars per year in Iraq= .61 cents per gallon surcharge per year.

So, we should add at least 61 cents per gallon to our gas to pay just for this war. This is just a rough calculation, of course, and I'm not counting increased disability payments, family services, manpower lost in many communities, harm to families, on-going mental health issues....

And, yet, the economic-religious-political triumvirate of the Right marches on, self-reinforcing, self-centered, hell-bent on securing power at home and abroad--no matter how disengenuous their leaders are, now matter how many fabrications proffer to the media.

And now a link to: End of Suburbia