July 01, 2008

Counting Down on Oil

I'm reminded of my days back in Princeton, when many students of color were passionately lobbying the university to add an Ethnic Studies program to the curriculum through a series of rallies, protests, even a sit-in of the President's office. In the midst of this, were were a number of students who, at best, acted as devil's advocates that actively engaged the protesters on these issues. On many occasions, these Devil's advocates would make statements that were often contradictory, but were all individually inflammatory. As a result, some of these passionate protesters would become so incensed that they'd loose sight of their ultimate goal as they tried to shout down the inherent stupidness of elements of the opposition.

These so-called Devil's advocates, of course, grow up to be the Tucker Carlsons of the world.

And, in many cases, these well-intentioned passionates grow up to be Keith Olberman.

As much as I love and enjoy "Countdown with Keith Olberman", I suppose I must remind myself that, as often insightful and passionate as he can be, he can often loose sight of the forest for those damned trees.

Case in point: my recent post about his recent segment, laying much of the blame for high oil prices at the feet of Enron, oil speculators, former Senator & Mrs. Phil Graham, and, by proxy and omission, John McCain. As a number of commentators pointed out in that post, and, as this New Yorker article linked in the title addresses, while speculators can assume some of the blame, much of it must be laid at the feet of the insane growth of oil demand. Now, I'm still not entirely convinced that there isn't whole scale market manipulation, but I would not be doing my due diligence to not give voice to these other, potentially stronger factors.

And, as the New Yorker points out, these regulatory measures against speculators may, in some ways, be as much of a political stunt as the gas tax holiday proposal from the spring. While I believe it's clearly a more substantive stunt, it still beats up a familiar bogeyman for the public while not addressing the fundamental, underlying issues.