One of the most numbing and continually irritating sound bytes that keeps coming up in this election cycle is “Energy Independence.” Both candidates are equally to blame.
Apparently, in the world these people live in, buying oil from Canada is dandy. Buying from Venezuela or Saudi Arabia is like peeing on the American flag. It’s almost as if they believe that Canadian oil is somehow a sweeter, prettier grade of crude that just feels better in our refineries.
Oil is a fungible commodity. That means that a barrel of light crude that’s pumped in Texas is exactly the same as a barrel of light crude that’s pumped in BabyKillingTerroristIstanAbad-Zuela. Exactly the same.
Oil is a commodity traded on international markets. That means the barrel of sweet, sweet Canadian light crude costs exactly the same amount as a barrel of disgustingly foul putrid light crude that comes from Iran. Even if we could buy all our oil from Canada, Mexico, and Care Bear Land, our purchasing would have the same effect on prices that it would have if we bought the oil from Satan himself.
This is a great analogy (courtesy of Reason)
S. Fred Singer [of the Science and Environmental Policy Project] came up with the best analogy. He described the global oil market like a big bathtub. All the oil production is dumped into one bathtub and all consumers have straws sucking oil out. [For all economic purposes] it’s like we’re all sucking from the same common pool. To say you are not gonna buy Saudi oil, or Algerian oil—it’s crazy. For example, the U.S. hasn’t purchased a dime of Iranian oil—except for a small amount in the early ‘90s, but for the most part no Iranian oil since 1979. And that hasn’t stopped Iran from supporting Hezbollah.
If we buy our oil from Canada, then China will buy oil from Iran. If we buy from Mexico, then Russia will buy from Venezuela. But more to the point, Oil is a commodity that is sold and resold. We don’t buy oil from the Canadian General Store or Fascists ‘R Us, we buy it from commodity brokers, who buy it from speculators, who buy it from brokers, who buy it in lots from all producers. Obama and McCain would have you believe that buying oil from Saudi Arabia is wrong and bad and evil, but buying oil from a Canadian broker that bought that oil from Saudi Arabia is just super keen. It’s absurd.