Thursday, July 14, 2005

Damn Lies and Secrets

Enemies are everywhere, we’re told. Deep dark monsters loom in the shadows, some sanctioned by governments and others nothing more than angry men with bombs.

But it’s never as bad as we’re told it is. Experts exaggerate to keep us in line or to scare us so we buy their counsel. Sometimes they go over the top so no one can blame them for not crying wolf when the shit finally does hit the fan and sometimes scare tactics crop up because it’s expected. Paranoia is rarely justified.

Fear knows no boundaries, no matter how absurd. Today on Kudlow & Company, Jerry Taylor from the Cato Institute and Frank Caffney from the Center for Security Policy exchanged opinions about CNOOC’s buying of Unocal. CNOOC is a Chinese oil and gas company; American Unocal also focuses on those energy commodities.

Caffney accuses CNOOC of being a puppet of the Chinese government (they are heavily subsidized) and this acquisition is but a step in an economic attack of epic proportions. I wish I kept track the number of time he said “strategic,” but it was a great deal.

Taylor made the very good point that you can’t control a market as wide and deep and vague as energy, but he didn’t push it hard enough. If, in the unlikely event, that this is just part of the much larger puzzle and “they” are trying to take our energy, then we have nothing to worry about it. There are endless alternatives to oil and gas; even if I were to make the paranoid assumption that everyone was out to get us, they cannot plunge us into darkness.

It’s fitting that Rep. Richard Pombo suggested that this deal could be the Sputnik of our time. Sputnik I orbited the earth for less than six months. It did little more than gather information about electron density in the ionosphere. It wasn’t a spy satellite, nor could it fire lasers from space. It had absolutely no military application at all. Like this deal, all the danger is in the fear-monger’s heads.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

But what Sputnik did is showed the US government and the public that Russia had an extremely visible advantage into what was (at the time) the last great scientific and military frontier. Sputnik was a symbol of Russian dominance in space, and it is what spurred the US into going to the moon and developing the shuttle program.

Perhaps this is the kind of scare the renewable-energy folks need. Like Sputnik, maybe it can scare some good science out of everyone.