There’s a little flurry of debate going on about oil, and what it’s used for. Alex Knapp of Heretical Ideas (Tuesday Oct 22 – the direct link doesn’t work) has just one word to say to us: plastics. His point is a good one: oil is not just for making cars and lorries go. Our entire economies now depend on it.
And here’s another point about oil. It is said by some of its opponents that the war that GWB2 wants to start Real Soon Now is really only about oil, only about keeping western economies well supplied, only about economics. And it is agreed by almost everyone that the President is being so delicate with the Saudis, again only because of the vast amounts of oil that they dispose of.
Only? War is a matter of life and death, but so is economics. I’m not saying that this war is/will be only an oil war. (I don’t think this at all as it happens, but that’s not my argument here.) Nor am I saying that all oil wars are good wars. Nor am I saying that the Saudis should be allowed to get away with absolutely anything, and with paying for absolutely anything, for ever, because giving them a seeing to would be too costly, in oil. I’m merely saying this: that when economies flounder people die. They go out of business, get divorced, get stressed and die of heart attacks, commit suicide. They torment one another, beat their kids, the kids leave home, the kids rob people, the kids kill people, the kids die, …
How many gallons of oil are worth the life, by which I mean the death, of one young soldier? It’s not a stupid or merely a rhetorical question. The serious answer cannot be that no amount of oil could possibly be worth any blood. No amount? Any? Just think about that.
All those studies proving that poverty is bad for you and can even kill you are true. They’re wrong only when they say that the way to reduce poverty is to nationalise it.