A day doesn’t go by without OPEC mentioned in the news. So let’s learn. OPEC is the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. It’s mission, per its website, is to “coordinate and unify the petroleum prices of Member Countries and ensure the stabilization of oil markets in order to secure an efficient economic and regular supply of petroleum to consumers, a steady income to producers and a fair return on capital to those investing in the petroleum industry.” Basically, it’s a cartel, or in economic terms an oligopoly - a small number of producers with a homogeneous product who collude to fix prices, industry output, allocation to customers, etc, to weed out competition.
OPEC was created in 1960 by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Qatar, Indonesia, Libya, United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Nigeria, Ecuador, and Angola have since joined.
So what do you hear about OPEC lately? Perhaps that it is looking to cut output on oil at its March 5 meeting in Vienna, despite China and India’s increasing oil demand. And perhaps that it is responsible for the return of the $100 oil (with Chavez’s power struggle, Nigeria’s political unrest, the explosion at a Texas refinery last week, and the cold weather in the northeast as culprits as well, of course.)
What don’t you hear about OPEC lately? Perhaps that its meetings are conducted in a small windowless bunker in Vienna, where a highly scientific method of determining oil prices take place: the oil ministers from each country gather with bottles of whiskey and cigarettes where a maelstrom of haggling, forming and breaking alliances with each other, and striking deals occurs until a consensus on a production quota is made. Great line from a book I’m reading: “Whenever gasoline prices rise.. American consumers blame greedy Big Oil and Europeans grouse about government taxes. Just imagine how much more outraged they would be in they realized that the price hikes are really due to such deals struck in the Bunker.”
Perhaps you have not heard that
OPEC fuels (literally) about 40% of the world’s oil demand with its production of 36M bpd (numbers as of 2006).
The US takes about 12 of those barrels every day to continue imbibing in 21M barrels per day (25% of total world consumption).
Meanwhile, the US produces only 8M bpd.
Keep in mind that US oil reserves, which basically is oil that exists and can be recovered, represent less than 2% of the world’s reserves.
What does it all mean? We use a lot of oil and pretty soon none of it will be our own.
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz became leader of Cuba in a decorated military uniform in 1959. It speaks volumes when that same revolutionary steps down in a leisure suit.
19 de febrero del 2008 Año 50 de la Revolución
Por entre la maraña mediática de deseos malsanos, ignorancia autoinfligida, y sueño de reconquista, nos llega la noticia de su decisión de no continuar al frente del Gobierno y de nuestras Fuerzas Armadas.
Una sociedad imperial, moralmente decrépita, no puede entender una decisión dictada por su sentido del deber al revolucionario de toda una vida. Mucho pedir sería que comprendan cuán profundo ha calado en los cubanos la semilla de su ejemplo, que inspirará a incontables generaciones de combatientes en todo el mundo cuando ya ni usted, ni nosotros, ni nuestros patéticos enemigos de hoy, estemos físicamente en él.
Hace ya 55 años que un humilde soldado del honor, convencido de que las ideas no se matan, preservó su vida para la posteridad. A quienes hoy cuentan con los dedos, atónitos y apesadumbrados, los sucesivos emperadores humillados por la resistencia de nuestro pueblo, con usted al frente, no les alcanzarán los pelos para contar a los conquistadores, tiranos y servidores imperiales que habrán de ser sepultados por sus ideas.
René González Sehwerert
Year 50 of the Revolution
For among the thicket media unhealthy desires,
Self-inflicted ignorance, and dream of reconquest,
Comes the news of his decision not to continue
As head of government and our Forces
An imperial society, morally decrepit, not
Can understand a decision dictated by his sense
Of the revolutionary duty of a lifetime. Much
Request that would have understood how deep draught
Cubans in the seed of his example,
Inspire countless generations of fighters
Around the world when neither you nor we, nor
Our enemies pathetic today, we
It has been 55 years since a humble soldier of honour,
Convinced that the ideas were not kill, preserving its
…For I have known them all already, known them all:—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?
And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?…
To much blogging and not enough quoting. Fact of life: attribution. Giving credit where it’s due.
Bill Gates is advocating a fuzzy new concept: “creative capitalism”, which calls for wealthy westerners to give money and innovation to poor third-world cultures.
Here are my reasons this idea makes little or no sense:
1) Capitalism is inherently creative. Before something can be capitalized, it must be created. Capitalism provides incentive to be creative — to create a product or a service that does not yet exist. ‘Creative capitalism’ is redundant, like ‘oppressive fascism’.
2) Capitalism has produced enough wealth to make Americans fat and there is enough left over to help the poor. Bill’s money would be more effective advocating capitalism, at home and abroad. These people he wants to help aren’t disadvantaged because they lack money. They are disadvantaged because they lack capitalism - the system for creating wealth.
Bill isn’t advocating any new laws, or really advocating anything specific. But he’s still doing us a disservice by undermining the moral base of capitalism: by justifying it as a means of helping others. Microsoft thrived by caring about itself first. This approach — putting altriusm second — is what allows someone to make enough money that he has the option to help others.
Many people would scoff at this idea. They’ve been brought up to believe that self-sacrifice is a moral virtue, and they have never fully challenged this belief. But how do they intend to ‘share the wealth’ that doesn’t exist yet?