I’ve tried a few times to argue that "foreign oil" is a bit of a red herring. The problem is oil, full stop.

Today my argument finds support from, of all places, Dilbert.

(hat tip: Corey)

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Update [2006-2-19 17:12:48 by David Roberts]: Hm, the folks over at Oil Drum take a rather dim view of this comic. Just a couple of comments:

  • It seems like a common sentiment that if there were enough Dilberts buying hybrids to actually reduce U.S. oil demand, the price of oil would fall, foreign despots would get less money, and Dilbert would be vindicated. But the basic oil story is one of leveling-off-and-declining supply, coupled with inexorably rising demand. Billions of people in China and India are having their standard of living rapidly raised. Moderate reductions in U.S. demand seem woefully insufficient to offset this rising tide of demand. Rising oil prices seem inevitable absent a truly historic — and truly unlikely — commitment by the U.S. to radically curtail its demand, and possibly even then. So to the extent that oil money funds terrorists, it seems likely terrorists will have ample funding for the foreseeable future. In that, Dogbert is correct.
  • My own view is that the "foreign oil" motivation articulated by Dilbert is rather naive, for the simple reason — voiced by Dogbert — that we can’t pick and choose where we get oil, or who ultimately gets our oil money. If you participate in the world oil economy, you participate in the world oil economy; you don’t get to do it daintily, or in some targeted way that’s in line with your values. But there are good reasons to reduce U.S. oil use, period. Aside from all the environmental benefits, we would reduce our vulnerability to geopolitical manipulation and arguably provide an enormous stimulus to the economy. I attributed both halves of my view to the cartoon, but re-reading it, I suppose I may have been projecting the latter half. Scott Adams (the author) may simply be arguing that it’s pointless to reduce oil use at all (and not just for Dilbert’s stated reasons). That would indeed be monumentally stupid.
  • Yes I’m droning on and on about a cartoon, but it’s Sunday evening and the kids are napping. What else am I gonna do?