Dr. Marya Zilberberg has an interesting post on Kevin,MD, speculating on the effect a worldwide oil shortage will have on healthcare, and what we ought to do about it. Marya is herself a notable blogger who has commented here several times (but whose comments, alas, were among those lost when the catastrophe struck), and she is one of the more thoughtful critics of DrRich. Her criticisms are always fact-based rather than ad hominem, and thus she always gets DrRich to thinking. Her post on Kevin, MD had that typical effect.
So DrRich hopes his readers will give Marya at least a little of the credit for what follows.
We as a nation face several apparently intractable problems at the present moment. Indeed, the problems individually seem so unsolvable that it will obviously take some major “outside of the box” thinking to solve any one of them, let alone the whole mess.
DrRich refers, of course, to the following five problems:
1. We as a nation face more than $50 trillion in debt obligations over the next several decades, thanks to Social Security and Medicare alone. This is an obligation we have no prayer of meeting.
2. Thanks to that massive accumulation of debt, we as a nation are mortgaging our futures to foreign nations, principally China. In fact, this totalitarian power will soon have veto authority on any initiative the US proposes to take.
3. We face an apparently growing threat of terrorist attacks whose base of operations (while it may be insensitive to say so) is in the Middle East.
4. Thanks to our profligate use of oil products, we are causing runaway global warming (and anyone mentioning the past decade of global cooling is a global warming denier).
5. As Marya points out, we appear to be drawing ever closer to a worldwide oil shortage that will threaten every aspect of our lives, even our healthcare.
Marya’s post was the key for DrRich.
DrRich, being a conservative American, has previously subscribed to a “Drill, Baby Drill” sort of philosophy. After all, we have oil in the ground, and we need oil to run our economy – so let’s go get it ourselves, instead of paying all that money to Middle Eastern and Venezuelan dictators, who just turn around and give it to terrorists.
But now DrRich sees the error of his ways.
There is a simple and straightforward solution that addresses all five of our intractable problems, indirectly if not directly.
Here it is: Stop drilling altogether. Leave American oil in the ground. And buy up all those other peoples’ oil (and take physical possession of it) – as fast as we can.
The estimated worldwide oil reserve is about 1 trillion barrels. Let’s buy as much as we can of those reserves, and bring it here. At $100 a barrel that’s only 100 trillion dollars, or only twice what we’re obligated to pay for our old farts over the next few decades. But the difference is, when we spend all that money on Social Security and Medicare, all we’ve got to show for it is old farts who are even older. But when we spend that money buying up the world’s oil, we’ve got a corner on the market.
Where are we going to put all that oil, skeptics might ask? Why, we’re going to store it in the rapidly-depleting Ogallala Acquifer, which is capable of holding up to 978 trillion gallons. The world’s oil reserves, if we choose to follow DrRich’s plan, will be right under Kansas and Nebraska – the heartland.
Even if the price of oil rises to substantially higher than $100 per barrel (which it certainly will as the world’s supplies become sequestered beneath Lincoln and Dodge City), it will still be a bargain for us to buy it up. It will be a bargain at any price. After all, we’re already in a debt hole so deep we cannot possibly get out of it. If we’re destined to perish in a sea of debt, we might just as well drown in $500 trillion as $50 trillion of debt. We’ll be just as dead either way.
So we should be delighted to accumulate whatever amount of debt is required in order to corner the world’s oil market. It’s our only hope.
Because, when the only oil left in the world is American oil, we strike back. Our oil will be a precious, life-sustaining commodity, which nobody in the world can do without. Even if energy technology develops to the point where people can really fly around in airships powered by solar batteries, oil will remain precious. Just try building those solar batteries without petroleum products. Marya herself points out that it’s only petroleum products which allow us to do all the remarkable stuff we do every day in healthcare, as well as in every other modern endeavor.
We’ll be able to charge whatever we want for our oil – DrRich (a humanitarian) is thinking merely $1000 a barrel, as a nice round number. We’ll be able to pay China back, and any other of our debt holders, in a trice. And in another trice they will all owe money to us (like in the good old days).
The Middle Eastern terrorists will become defunded.
Since nobody else in the world will be able to engage in hydrocarbon pollution any longer without our say so, we can control worldwide carbon emissions as we see fit, and “tune” the earth’s temperature like a fine clock.
Best of all, since (according to the current plans of our leaders) the American government will remain permanently in the hands of benign progressives, who by definition care very deeply about the people of the world, all this will be done with the most beneficent of intents, which will assure the very best of outcomes.
Of course, none of this will work if it turns out the world’s oil reserves are vastly greater than current official estimates. This might be something to think about, considering that today’s oil reserves are twice what they were in 1980, even though we’ve burned through (and, of course, spilled) 30 years of oil since then. Thankfully, the experts assure us that this time they’re correct. And if we’re not going to listen to the experts, what the heck are we paying them for?
Besides, given our current situation, we have nothing to lose by trying. So: Cap, Baby, Cap!
DrRich explains it all in, Fixing American Healthcare – Wonkonians, Gekkonians and the Grand Unification Theory of Healthcare.