Wednesday, October 25, 2006

What I Said About Proposition 87 On The Show Saturday...

Greetings, space monkeys-- and welcome to another episode in the long and terrible saga of Why California Is Doomed. Brought to you by The Chevron Corporation, Shell, Exxon, the usual rogue's gallery of California right wing tax-cut zealots, and every major newspaper editorial board in the state with the notable exceptions of La Opinion and the Oakland Tribune.

One of the initiatives on this November's ballot in California, Proposition 87, is a truly remarkable and revolutionary proposal. When I finish telling you what it will do, you will be astounded that it wasn't passed without debate, thirty years ago. The fact that it is 2006 and it *still* never has been done, explains more about what's wrong with California-- about what's wrong with America-- than pretty much everything else you are thinking about.

Just give up looking for a better symbol of California and American unravelling: this is it.

Proposition 87 is a plan to make ethanol flex-fuel vehicles a reality on California roads, and to pay for the investment in infrastructure this requires by charging a fee for the extraction of crude petroleum from California wells and offshore oil fields. Just about every state in America that has any oil in the ground to speak of charges a fee to the oil companies for every barrel they pump into the world's oil supply. Every state, that is, but California.

We're talking about billions of dollars in revenue that we've never collected because California politicians have never had enough spine to tell the oil companies that There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. Can you imagine Texas not charging a tax on oil pumped from the West Texas fields? If you can, then I want to be introduced to your dope dealer.

Texas charges 4.6 percent on every barrel lifted out of the ground, which is even more than the tax proposed in Proposition 87. But, you know what? At 4.5 percent, Texas is practically giving it away, compared to Louisiana and Alaska, which set their rates at 12.5 and 15 percent respectively. California has the third largest reserves of oil and gas anywhere in the United States, and for the last N-mumbledy years, we've been letting the drillers pump the state down completely tax free. Now, there's *finally* a proposition on the ballot to make California oil drillers pay the same tax they do in Texas, and you can watch the oil biz paid smear artists come out of the walls to get you to vote it down.

They want you to believe the money will be raised at the gasoline pump. It's cleverly worded garbage, usually presented with pictures of fuel nozzles to help cement the misinformation in your mind.

Note very carefully: they'll say that gasoline prices will go up if Proposition 87 passes, but they won't tell you why or how. They want you to assume that an "oil tax" is the same as a gasoline tax, but look at their campaign materials. Their real argument is that the tax will somehow magically cause a drop in the global supply of oil, thus driving up crude prices worldwide and the fraction of oil coming into California from foreign sources, bringing about higher gasoline prices indirectly by that process.

The text of the law even formally prohibits vertically integrated oil companies from passing the costs of extraction in California on to the state's gasoline consumers-- which is pretty comic, if you think about it. How many times have we been treated to oil industry experts coming forward to explain to us, we poor benighted consuming gluttons that we are, that, of course, oil companies have no control over prices at the pump and they can't possibly be gouging us with price manipulations.

It's impossible, you see. They couldn't pass the Proposition 87 tax on to consumers even if they wanted to-- making it illegal just drives home the point. No, really. That's the truth.

Most importantly, they want you to believe that Proposition 87 will increase dependence on imports of crude oil from the Middle East. This is the worst fornication of the truth in the whole buggering perversion of a campaign the opposition to Proposition 87 is running.

The whole point of raising the four billion dollars from taxing crude oil extraction in California is to spend it on promoting a transition to E85 and flex fuels in our cars. For those who don't know, E85 is 15% gasoline and 85% ethanol. To use it, you need a slightly different engine and fuel system in your car, and more importantly a different fuel refining and distribution system in the marketplace. That's the part that's expensive, and it's what that $4 billion will go to do. If California could manage to do what Brazil did twenty years ago, and switch over to E85 in most of the cars on its roads, that would produce a *dramatic* reduction in California's consumption of crude oil from the Middle East. We can make lots of ethanol, right here in the Golden State ourselves. Only the 15% gasoline in E85 fuel needs to come from the Santa Barbara channel, Texas, or-- well, *Kaboomistan*. Indeed, that very concern is exactly why Brazil went for ethanol: for its own national security reasons. Look it up. It's true.

The opponents of Proposition 87 want you to believe that the funds raised from the tax will be managed without any accountability or transparency. This is just a naked and obvious lie. The proposed Authority will be a state agency, subject to all the accountability, openness and transparency standards of every such body. That means mandatory audits by an independent CPA firm, audit reviews by the State Controller's office, publicly issued reports, open meetings, compliance with the Political Reform Act and additional prohibitions against conflict of interest specifically written into the text of the act. No accountability or transparency, my left thumb. Where do they come up with people who can say things like this without having to unscrew themselves from their seat afterward?

They want you to believe that Proposition 87 creates a whole new bureaucracy. Again, this is just a horrible, vicious lie. It only reorganizes an existing one--one badly in need of reorganization anyway, for all the reasons the opposition wants you to think about the new one. Read the first page of the act. I've read the whole thing, of course, but it's pretty obvious that it doesn't create a new bureaucracy out of nothing. It's a reform package. The oppositions just lies on general principle, not even because it's fun--but because it's necessary for their brains to function, like breathing. The volition for it is entirely autonomic.

Are you going to buy all these lies from the opposition to Proposition 87. Will you vote against the single most revolutionary improvement in California law that's ever been proposed in our lifetimes? That's not an exaggeration.

Yes. You will. You'll buy it all. You'll vote it down, with a laugh and hearty job-well-done, because you're that fscking dumb.

You'll believe all those oily lies, and smile as you suck down the rotten air produced from burning all that gasoline that your ancient car engines need because they can't handle E85 or other flex fuels. You'll feel good about yourselves as you do it, too. And when the consequences for this stupidity finally comes clear to you-- when your grandkids ask you why nobody in your generation did the obviously smart thing to do when the time came-- you'll feel all dead inside, because you'll know you sold them out for no good reason.

Proposition 87 is losing in the pre-election opinion polls right now by a margin of about ten percent. The opposition campaign is funded to the tune of $100 million dollars. If you're going to get involved in a campaign, this is one of the crucial ones. Peace out.

No comments: