Let Them Drive Teslas!
$5.50 gasoline got you down? Here's a simple, $55k solution to your problems...
Joel Bowman, reckoning this Sunday from Buenos Aires, Argentina...
Our taxi came to a halt, right across the road from the Russian embassy in Recoleta. The scene is no doubt familiar at similar addresses around the world.
(Photo: To Russia, without love)
“Street closed,” our driver pointed out, explaining the somewhat circuitous route we had journeyed on. “Many protests. Even for Buenos Aires.”
Perhaps we didn’t appear sufficiently indignant, but we were not prepared for the follow-up question: “Wait, you are Russian?”
“Russian. You are Russians?”
Was that a question... or an accusation?
Through no fault or credit of his own, your editor happened to be born on the Gold Coast, in Australia. But what if we did hail from Moscow or St. Petersburg or Novosibirsk? Would we have to pay the driver double? Or would he have kicked us out? We alighted, unharmed, and got to thinking...
Are ordinary Russians facing discrimination in taxis around the world? What do they have to do with Mr. Putin’s actions? And yet “the West” pours out their vodka, boycotts their salad dressing and renames their namesake, suicidal past-time. (That’ll teach ‘em!)
But surely the Russians - and Belorussians, for that matter - loathe their politicians just as much as we in the West despise ours? We can’t have cornered the market on maniacal, out-of-touch leaders, can we?
Speaking of which, let’s dive right into today’s essay...
Let Them Drive Teslas!
By Joel Bowman
Attention, Dear Reader, your country wants YOU...
...to pay higher prices for gasoline.
As you no doubt noticed, the learned elites were out in force this past week, embarking on a special kind of media blitzkrieg, conscripting all
deplorable ordinary systematically racist patriotic Americans to do their part in defeating the great evil of our time: Saddam Hussein... Toxic Masculinity... White Lives... The Covid...
(Wait, wait... it’s in here somewhere...)
Putin’s Price Hikes (PPH)!
The nation’s Commander-in-Chief appeared earlier in the week, graciously sharing the credit for a job poorly done. His words, quoted here in the New York Post:
“Today’s inflation report is a reminder that Americans’ budgets are being stretched by price increases and families are starting to feel the impacts of Putin’s price hike [...]
“A large contributor to inflation this month was an increase in gas and energy prices as markets reacted to Putin’s aggressive actions,” Biden’s statement went on.
“As I have said from the start, there will be costs at home as we impose crippling sanctions in response to Putin’s unprovoked war, but Americans can know this: the costs we are imposing on Putin and his cronies are far more devastating than the costs we are facing.”
Seems a curious pivot from a man who ran on “taking responsibility,” no? Remember this one?
Never mind that, under Biden’s deft stewardship, inflation in the US was already at a 40-year high before Mr. Putin ordered a single shot fired...
What could have fueled this once-in-a-generation uptick in prices, you ask? We found a nifty little cartoon on the web to help explain. It’s so simple, in fact, we’d bet even a Nobel Prize winning economist/Enron consultant like Paul Krugman could understand it. Behold, the picture worth a few trillion dollars...
Nota Bene: If you dial the year in that first frame back to 2019, you get closer to “90% of all dollars in existence.” Might that have something to do with prices rising at their fastest pace, 7.9 percent, since January of 1982? Hmm...
This is a strange form of Pyrrhic victory, the likes of which we haven’t seen before, where one side shoots itself in the foot repeatedly, hoping the enemy will eventually give in.
“Putin may be disrupting world markets and driving up energy prices,” Mr. Biden might have declared, “but there’s no harm he can inflict upon us that we can’t better inflict upon ourselves!”
Indeed, as our colleague Dan Denning reminds us, the national average for gasoline prices was up more than 50% before Mr. Putin even got out of bed on the morning he had circled as Ukraine Invasion Day. Yes, it’s up another 18% since. “That's what happens when you take 4-5 million barrels per day off the markets,” writes Dan. All in, “crude is up 124% since Uncle Joe was sworn in.”
What gives? Let’s see, trillions more dollars chasing the same or fewer goods... Hmm...
Misty-eyed readers will recall the Keystone pipeline, for example, the one that brought a not unhelpful 900,000 barrels per day down from America’s friendly, NATO neighbor to the north. Well, Team Biden didn’t sit around like lame ducks, waiting for Putin’s missiles to take out that critical piece of strategic infrastructure. No siree-Bob! Uncle Joe’s cabinet got to work immediately, canceling the cross-border permit for Keystone XL on their very first day in office.
“Now that’s how you take out a pipeline, Mr. Putin!”
And the Build Back Better squad didn’t stop unbuilding there, either. Summoning the spirit of St. Greta Thunberg, the mentally unstable teenage girl from whom enlightened western nations derive their all-important energy policies, the administration promptly banned all new leases on federal land, too.
Bam! Take that, Mr. Putin! (And by “that” we mean much higher prices for Russia’s key export, the one Mr. Putin sells to the West in order to buy all those “peacekeeping” tanks currently peacekeeping the sh*t out of cities across Ukraine. History students will here note that it was during past crude rallies when Mr. Putin felt emboldened to march into Georgia - 2008, oil: $180/bbl - and the Crimea - 2014, oil: $125/bbl. A pattern, maybe?)
Facing (totally unpredictable... but nonetheless mounting) shortages, Team Biden wasted no time before raiding the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR); once for 40 million barrels worth last fall and now again, according to Press Secretary Jen Psaki, for a “coordinated release of what will be 90 million barrels [...] this fiscal year.”
Gee, that sure sounds like a lot... at least, it probably does if you’re United States Secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granholm, who was unable to answer a direct question regarding how many barrels of oil per day the US actually uses. (Seems like a fairly important number, eh? For the record, the average daily use for 2021 was 19.78 million... but Madam Energy Secretary could have received partial credit for anything close to 20 million.) Here she was, back in November...
For the mathematically-inclined reader, that means the entire 130 million barrels released from the SPR would last for, oh... (carry the six, divide by pie, find the hypotenuse, sin cos tan...) less than a week, or roughly the time between these Sunday Seshes. Then we’re back, hat in hand as Biden is presently, asking Venezuela’s dictator, Nicolás Maduro (who also happens to be BFFs with Mr. Putin), to plug the hole left by the dormant Keystone plumbing. That, and making trips to butter up past and future enemies in the Middle East...
But never mind all that jazz. America’s favorite Jens (Psaki and Granholm), along with Transport Secretary, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, just back from maternity leave, have a better plan for
proles peasants useful idiots workers who might be feeling the pain of rising prices at the pump.
Yes, Dear Reader, if you’re feeling the pinch of $5... $6... even $7+ per gallon gasoline (as is the case for these Beverly Hillbillies), the solution is a cinch: Just head on down to your local electric car dealership, whip out your credit card, and begin your journey toward smug, carbon-neutral* self righteousness today! And it’s a bargain, too. According to the Kelley Blue Book, the average transaction price for an electric vehicle is a mere $56,437, or just over $21,000 more than the average cost of a gasoline-powered four-door sedan, at $35,000.
Here’s Granholm again, flashing the kind of condescending smirk working class Americans just love seeing wrapped around their multi-millionaire, Dear Leaders’ faces...
The rain may fall on the just and the unjust alike, but higher prices disproportionately impact those clinging to the lower rungs of the economic ladder. Pete and the Jens won’t be walking to work or riding the bus anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean you have to either, if you simply heed their sensible, totally-in-touch-with-reality advice: Let Them Drive Teslas!
That Vlad’s Russia is a key supplier of the world’s nickel - a critical component used in the lithium-ion batteries powering those electric vehicles - and that the metal went limit-up in trading in London earlier this week after crossing the $100,000 per tonne mark for the first time ever... well, they’re just problems for some other Jens...
And that’s all from us for another week. As always, likes, shares and comments below are always welcome.
The Fatal Conceits podcast will return next Sunday, following a bit of an audio revamp. For that episode, we caught up with our old mate Addison Wiggin to discuss the situation in Europe, the reality of sanctions, weaponized money, the potential role of cryptos in all this, and why whenever the situation calls for a scalpel, governments invariably arrive wielding a chainsaw.
All that and more next week. In the meantime, tune in again tomorrow, when Bill returns with his regular missives. And enjoy your weekend!
(*product may not actually be carbon-neutral)
And it will cause food to sky rocket with civil rest in poorer countries to follow.
Before you come to the conclusion the average Russian is against the war, watch this:
Nearly every American is just hearing about Ukraine for the first time, apart from Hunter's exploits yet the Russians are very aware of what has been happening.