Monday, March 12, 2007

Oil Politics 1: Bush vs. Chavez?

As Bush tours a number of Latin American countries mainly to projectthe US government as not-as-evil-as-pictured by Hugo Chavez, theVenezuelan President, the usual anti-US government sentiments in the continent (and elsewhere actually) are fired up.

In most news analysis and stories, Mr. Bush is pictured as the leaderof "open capitalism" while Mr. Chavez is the leader of "modern socialism" in Latin America. The former is backed up by trillions of $ of American taxpayers' money, while the latter is backed up by millions of barrels of petroleum production and deposits. But are they really ideological nemesis?

Mr. Bush's government confiscates a big portion of American people's monthly and annual incomes, whether they work in the US or abroad. His government further collects taxes from the savings and consumption (the after-income-tax take home pay) of the citizens, a substantial portion of which goes to Iraq war (about $8 billion/month direct costsalone), in Afghanistan war, and anti-terror war elsewhere around the globe.

Mr. Chavez's government "nationalized" foreign petroleum companies (mainly American, British and French companies) and sold oil to manyLatin American countries at low prices. I dont know how much taxes from Venezuelan people Mr. Chavez also confiscates from their monthly and annualy income.

At the end of the day, both Mr. Bush and Mr. Chavez are not exactly "ideological enemies". Both believe in the coercive power of the state in taking away a big portion of the private citizens' income and savings, and both are practicing it. What distinguish one from the other, however, is the degree of coercion that they practice. While Mr. Chavez attempts a socialist, really-big-state model, Mr. Bush attempts a welfarist and militarist, still big-state model.

Meanwhile, I posted this last June 30, 2006:

World Oil Prices 

World oil prices, in US$/barrel

2006: New York, Dubai
May: 70.96, 65.25
April: 70.25, 64.31
March: 62.97, 58.37
February: 61.93, 57.70
January: 66.15, 58.65(?)

December: 60.04, 53.04
October: 62.22, 53.86

World oil prices, 1970-2005
West Texas Intermediate (WTI) prices, $/barrel

Nominal price, Equiv. in current $
Feb. 1970: 2, 7
'73 1st oil crisis
Dec. 73: 5, 17
Feb. 74: 11.5, 39

'79-80 2nd oil crisis
Feb. 79: 22, 51
May 79: 30, 70
Nov. 79: 40, 87

'85-86 OPEC production hike
Feb. 86: 16, 26
July 86: 10, 15.5

'90-91 1st Iraq war
July 90: 17, 23
Oct. 90: 35, 47

'98 Asian crisis + OPEC production hike
Dec. 98: 10, 12

'99-00 OPEC production cut
Sept. 00: 32, 36

'02-03 Venezuela gen. strike + US invasion of Iraq
Jan. 03: 33, 35
June 03: 30.5, 32

OPEC production cut
May 04: 40, 41

2005 Hurricanes, Gulf of Mexico
Sept. 05: 66

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