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Antitrust lawsuit against OPEC:

On Tuesday, the U.S. House overwhelmingly passed a bill authorizing Sherman Act enforcement against OPEC. Among the proponents of the idea is The Heritage Foundation. A radio report which includes my take on the issue is available in MP3 and transcript. However, it's in Russian, for the Russian station of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and may be difficult for non-Russophones to follow.

My basic analysis is: OPEC's actions are plainly contrary to the Sherman Act. In Hartford Fire Insurance Co. v. California (1993), the Supreme Court ruled that the Sherman Act could be applied to the acts of foreign corporations committed in foreign countries, if the purpose and effect the foreign acts was in part aimed at the U.S., which OPEC's actions obviously are. So even without the explicit language in the House bill, the Sherman Act allows anti-OPEC lawsuits. (And, notably, the Sherman Act, as amended by the Clayton Act, is much friendlier to civil enforcement by private parties than are the antitrust laws of most other nations.) Accordingly, the real barrier to an anti-OPEC Sherman case is the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act. Indeed, in 1978 the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers brought a Sherman Act case against OPEC, only to lose the case on FSIA grounds. So the House bill creates an exception to FSIA for anti-OPEC suits.

Although I am in general an antitrust skeptic, my objections do not apply when governments are the monopolists.

Still, my view is that there are more important steps that the U.S. could take to reduce its dependence on OPEC, such as opening up ANWR, building more nuclear and clean coal plants (even though OPEC oil is a small part of US electricity production), importing more oil from Alberta, and allowing the current high prices of gasoline to encourage market solutions for less use of OPEC gasoline.

Struthius:
Not to mention opening up all the oil fields offshore of the lower 48, lifting restrictions on new refineries, allowing oil shale development, dropping restrictions on Brazilian sugar cane-based ethanol, etc etc.

But wait -- it's more productive to bring the heads of Big Oil to a Senate hearing for yet another browbeating. Gimme a break.
5.22.2008 7:11pm
jfb2252:
www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=90714692
A Chicago-based entrepreneur says many industrial power users can save money, get more electricity, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by using the energy they already consume more efficiently. It's called recycling energy — capturing waste heat and turning it into power.

The guy interviewed said that ~250 GW electric could be co-generated if regulations making it impossible to sell the electricity to the power company or to other businesses were removed. He stated that this was 20% of US electric use. I haven't checked the numbers with EIA.

The idea of increasing energy efficiency by reduction of regulation surely resonates with many of those who frequent this site. This seems more likely to have near term results (5-10 year) than an antitrust suit.
5.22.2008 7:23pm
glass house (mail):
When it comes to the politics of oil, aren't we in a glass house? Will we like the consequences of what will follow if we attack OPEC?

If you were OPEC and the US courts started telling you what to do, what would you do in response?
5.22.2008 7:41pm
Dave N (mail):
Might I ask what, exactly, an antitrust suit against OPEC would accompish?

"We are sorry King Abdullah, you lost your suit, Saudi Arabia must divest itself of its oil fields."

"Hugo Chavez, you are required to no longer conspire to sell your country's oil at artificially high prices."

Give me a break.
5.22.2008 7:41pm
byomtov (mail):
This is really a dumb idea.
5.22.2008 7:47pm
genob:
Yeah. Stupid ..I'm not really sure how Congress thinks it will enforce the judgment.

Oh wait. War for oil.
5.22.2008 8:11pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Well, if they are looking for a conspiracy to raise prices, all they have to do is look around the hearing at the other Senators. We have a supply problem, exasperated by Congress locking up the vast majority of our reserves of oil and oil shale, while helping to prevent refinery construction over the last 30 years.
5.22.2008 8:12pm
Nathan_M (mail):
What a waste of time. What's the point in a lawsuit against foreign governments? It's not like bailiffs are going to head over to the Saudi embassy. I guess now congressmen can say they have "done something".
5.22.2008 8:14pm
MichaelB (mail):
So what is the "right" amount of oil OPEC should be exporting and who gets to decide this?
5.22.2008 8:29pm
CDR D (mail):
>>>If you were OPEC and the US courts started telling you what to do, what would you do in response?

<<<

Flip 'em the "JAKE".
5.22.2008 8:41pm
TimS (mail):

So what is the "right" amount of oil OPEC should be exporting and who gets to decide this?

Um, is the answer OPEC?
It's like some weird quiz where you gave the answer first.


(sorry, needed to be a smartass at the end of a long day...)
5.22.2008 8:45pm
Pon Raul (mail):
Kopel,

I find your analysis sub-quality for the Volokh Conspiracy. Why haven't you addressed the obvious question regarding how an anti-trust verdict against OPEC would be enforced? Why haven't you discussed the real results of this action?

Regards,

Pon Raul
5.22.2008 8:58pm
Snarky:
For those who are wondering what the remedy would be... OPEC members DO have assets that can be seized within the United States.
5.22.2008 8:59pm
FantasiaWHT:
So... Congress sues OPEC for not producing enough oil... is it going to sue itself next for refusing to increase American production enough?
5.22.2008 9:01pm
CDR D (mail):
>>>For those who are wondering what the remedy would be... OPEC members DO have assets that can be seized within the United States.

<<<

That may be true. But that's been tried before with other so-called "belligerents", and the issue seems to carry on for years.

Meanwhile, maybe the robes and the politicians will have to spend a good part of their day walking to work.

That might be a blessing in itself.
5.22.2008 9:10pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
US sues OPEC. We get 45% of our imported oil and products from them. Domestic production is somewhat less than imports, so we get about 20-25% of the oil and products we use from OPEC. US enforces judgment by attaching OPEC assets in the US. OPEC declares embargo in retaliation. Now we have to come up with about 6 million barrels a day. We currently have about 700 million barrels in the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which for everything else being equal, would allow us to keep going for about 4 months at our current rate of consumption. With some kind of drastic rationing plan perhaps we could go 6 to 8 months. What then? War? Crash program for synfuels?

I don't think the US has many options, and should stop this stupid lawsuit or else we will get an embarrassing defeat.
5.22.2008 9:32pm
Rochesterian (mail):
Zarkov,

What we have now is chaos to the point police officers sitting at a nearby table in Dennys Clearwater, FL (this very moment) are stating "something's gotta give." When I hear that kind of talk from cops, I know that when folks take this $4.00+ gas to the streets, the cops are going to stand there with their arms folded.

As a matter of national security of the highest order, the ex-parte asset freeze orders need to be filed/served on everything remotely OPEC the moment the 15 U.S.C suits are filed, to the extent everything from OPEC owned race-horses to refineries are slapped with the freeze injunctions.

Besides, OPEC is already hip to our scam of depleting their oil before ours. Given the falling dollar, they are going to be demanding Euros for crude any moment.

In sum, the jigs-up. OPEC is no use to us anymore. The time to freeze their assets is now, before they start transfering everything out and pull the rug from underneath us before we pull it from under them first.
5.22.2008 11:47pm
ReaderY:
One is reminded of the would-be Illinois state law prohibiting cats from chasing birds, or the law declaring the value of pi to be 3. Except here the stakes are bigger, because the cost of behaving stupidly in our relations with other countries can be much greater than stupidity and wishful thinking in our relations with cats or geometric figures. Not all problems are solvable by courts, and don't necessarily have the ability to make things so merely by declaring it. Countries that fail to realize this do not necessarily survive. International leadership has been lost by many countries in the past, often by a complacency that leads to dissociation from reality.
5.22.2008 11:56pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Maybe something has to give, but the Senate committee hearing today was a joke. They grilled five oil execs and they kept pointing out that the problem starts and ends with Congress. The Senators show boated, trying to pretend like the oil companies were at fault.

Congress seems willing to do all sorts of stuff that is only going to make things worse, such as sue OPEC and increase the taxes on the oil companies here in the U.S. that provide only a token amount of the oil used. But they absolutely refuse to address the underlying problems, which include locking up our oil and oil shale reserves from drilling (or in some cases, even exploration) and making sure that no new refinery capacity is built.

The problem is that the problem is just going to get worse. China and India, as well as other 2nd and 3rd World countries, are rapidly increasing their demand for petroleum products, at a time when the world supply is limited.

Thus, the problem is a supply problem, and Congress addresses that by suing other countries for anti-trust and raising the costs of the oil companies operating in this country.
5.23.2008 12:23am
Rochesterian (mail):
Bruce,
by all means, the big talk I made in my above post included un-locking every source of energy from shale to a flammable pig-fart.

OPEC has MASSIVE assets in our grip we could freeze and keep to ourselves. You are right China and India has changed the equation. In my opinion, the equation has changed to the extent its time to cash in our OPEC chips-on-the-table before we lose the next hand.
5.23.2008 12:44am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"Not all problems are solvable by courts, and don't necessarily have the ability to make things so merely by declaring it. Countries that fail to realize this do not necessarily survive. International leadership has been lost by many countries in the past, often by a complacency that leads to dissociation from reality." ---->

Reader Y you sound un-American. You tout the typical gibberish of the wealthy tax cut set and the McCain electoral campaign. But what you say is not necessarily so.

What is "international leadership" Apparently you equate that to two things: oil and money. But it is more than that, and includes such things as the university educations Middle Eastern students from OPEC Nations are earning at American universities to gain cutting edge technology and knowhow to take back to their OPEC Countries, numerous palatial U.S. property holdings by leaders of OPEC Nations, and the most important of all ...

"My Kingdom for a Horse."

I was immersed in Middle Eastern culture for 4 years of undergrad where Americans were only 1 of every 10 students and Middle Easterners (mostly from OPEC Countries) made up most of the other 9 of every 10 students. Every morning as I drove across the Golden Gate Bridge at about 5:30 am, I could see numerous OPEC-ers prostrate on the braches facing toward Mecca. Every morning when I arrived on campus at just before 6:00 am (had to leave early to avoid the commute gridlock), as I walked past St. Ignatius, the Jesuit Catholic Church on campus, I could hear the Mosque in the basement of the Church where OPEC-ers were chanting prayers loudly. I also took Arabic and could understand what many of the OPEC-ers were saying in their casual conversations.

Our biggest OPEC supplier, and most important ally, Saudi Arabia, wants certains things from our Country -- being headed by a ruling family of minority Sunnis, surrounded by hostile Shite governments, SA wants the protection of the Untied States. SA and other OPEC Countries send large numbers of their Nationals for educations in our universities, paying huge amounts of tuition dollars. Members of the ruling families of SA and UAE (Dubai) hold huge Thoroughbred racing farms and palatial mansion properties, and buy millions of dollars of U.S.-bred Thoroughbred racehorses from the summer Keeneland and Saratoga sales, some other more minor sales, and also private purchases of already successful Thoroughbred racehorses. For example, when Barbaro broke down, Bernardini won the 2006 Preakness Stakes.

You like to talk about your version of "reality" about "cats...chasing birds" and likening "cats" to " geometric figures." If I may say so, Reader Y, I think you have eaten one too may ergot rye sandwiches and it is YOU who is experiencing "dissociation from reality."

What do you predict is going to happen to our Country if the gas stays at $4 a gallon or climbs higher? Or can't you think that far ahead? Already, waiters and waitresses are being laid off from restaurants, numerous mom &pop stores are closing, foreclosures have increased and we only see the tip of the iceberg, the dollar is falling falling and falling, rising numbers of borrows are defaulting on their student loans, our highway infrustructure is failing, we won't even have a space shuttle program soon for the following 4 years, private and government pensions are upsidedown, new auto sales are in the negative zone resulting on Ford (for one) cutting back U.S. production, etc etc etc.

You are about to see bankruptcies in America on a scale exceeding the Great Depression. Food stamp recipients have not gotten increases anywhere close to keeping up with food price inflation, and in todays climate, food stamps are only buying food for these families for 15 days of the month; food pantries are turning away hungry people in droves. You are about to see mass starvation of poor people, disabled, women, and CHILDREN on the streets of America that will make it look like Ethiopia. Over 1/6 of all Americans do not have medical care.

The wealthy tax cut set is shifting billions off-shore, while the United States is debt-financing our military rediness and National Security.

China and India at appx. 2 billion people each, huge populations due to not properly controlling their reproduction, are in the unsustainable zone on water and food capacity for their populations. They are buying farms for food and water production in Africa and south America, and rapidly increasing their oil purchases because of all this.

Neither, however, can meet SA and UAE (the majority of OPEC's?) educational and racehorse wants. China has very few horses left, mostly in Mongolia. India has enough trouble feeding its sacred cows.

Yes, China can take over our position as a buyer of OPEN oil, especially Saudi oil, but if that is going to happen, it is going to happen WHETHER OR NOT WE INVOKE ANTI-TRUST LAWS. There is always the very real threat of retaliation, an embargo, closing off the Straits of Hormuz (Iran-OPEC), but if that is going to happen, it is going to happen WHETHER OR NOT WE INVOKE ANTI-TRUST LAWS.

A tit for a tat, if OPEC retaliates, we would likely withdraw from our agreement to protect the Sunni minority SA ruling family from the Shite monsters that surround them, not a palatable choice to SA.

Something DOES have to be done to stop the insane rise in gas pump prices threatening to destroy American democracy. Here are some ideas:
1. Use the anti-trust laws against BOTH OPEN Nations AND our American oil company executives living fat-on-the-hog with 400% profit increases (SA and other OPEC Nations won't protest as much of they share the pain with the other culprits);
2. Raise taxes immediately back to the Ike rate of 91% on all wealthy Americans earning/with assset accumulations over $1 million per year, and use funds to lower the gas pump prices for Americans earning/with asset accumulations under $75,000 per year to save mom &pop businesses, jobs, and America's middle class;
3. Seize all American oil company and exec's windfall profits for the above purpose described in #2;
4. Seize (freeze) OPEC and ruling family assets (tuition dollars, racehorse farms and mansions, thoroughbred racehorses, and racing prize money, and ban OPEC Nations and ruling family members and their agents from attending the Keeneland and Saratoga summer sales, etc. ...

until ...

OPEC, American oil companies, and U.S. interests can come to the negotiation table and work out a more reasonable arrangement that will guarantee Americans gas pump prices at $2 per gallon or under.

"It's not like bailiffs are going to head over to the Saudi embassy." ----->

You're right. They're going to instead head to where the money is -- Belmont, Arlington Park, and Saratoga to Barns A-Z and the other off-track OPEC racehorse strongholds.

The old Arabic mantra "My Kingdom for a Horse" dates back to the prized Akhal Teke trade centuries ago, and should NOT be underestimated in the diplomatic vs Anti-trust solution to save our Country readily at hand.
5.23.2008 12:54am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
Bruce, I am not suggesting by my above post that your ideas should not also be pursued:

"But they absolutely refuse to address the underlying problems, which include locking up our oil and oil shale reserves from drilling (or in some cases, even exploration) and making sure that no new refinery capacity is built."

Likewise, I agree with Ilya that among his suggestions, the following should be pursued as well:

"there are more important steps that the U.S. could take to reduce its dependence on OPEC, such as opening up ANWR, building more nuclear and clean coal plants (even though OPEC oil is a small part of US electricity production), importing more oil from Alberta...."
5.23.2008 12:58am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
corr:
"borrows" = borrowers
" OPEN " (two typos) = OPEC
5.23.2008 1:05am
ReaderY:
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano,

Getting American courts to order other countries to cease and desist from having a treaty with each other is hardly a realistic strategy. And that's what applying anti-trust to OPEC amounts to. Claiming to have such a power does nothing more than make us look rediculous. One might as well pass an agriculture bill permitting farmers to petition our courts to order rain to appear when there is a drought. As many other commentators have asked, how will such an order be enforced?
5.23.2008 1:26am
ReaderY:
One likely consequence would be that a lot of countries would dump their dollar holdings, stop lending us money, cash in their existing loans, and demand payment for goods they sell to us in a safe currency like the euro.

If we had to start paying for our debts and our lifestyle in hard currency, where would we come up with it?
5.23.2008 1:33am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano:

Look at this graph of oil prices and you will see that in real dollars we are still below the modern peak set in 1981. The list of actions you specify will do nothing to increase our supply of oil. If anything it might decrease it because it looks like you want to shift away from investment towards consumption, and over consumption lies at the very heart of our problem. Increasing the marginal tax rate to 91% (which virtually no one paid in the 1950s) won't increase the supply of oil. Drilling offshore and in Alaska will. Building synfuel facilities will do that too. Building means investing, but you want to reduce investment. So what you write is inherently contradictory.

I will take these sob stories about gasoline prices more seriously when I see cars loaded up with passengers instead of just the driver. That will happen if and when gas gets to something like $6 per gallon.
5.23.2008 2:21am
A. Zarkov (mail):
ReaderY:

What you say is a real risk, although I'm not sure foreigners will sell their assets all that quickly because they would take a real bath. However if the dollar stops being the international reserve currency, we might have a real problem. We can print all the money we want and it won't do any good because no one will want dollars. The Fed seems to indicate it won't lower the interest rate target any more so they might be catching on that we have a real problem with the dollar. Gold is headed up again.
5.23.2008 2:28am
Tom952 (mail):
Senator: "So how do you explain your record profits to the American People?"

Oil Exec: "Over the years we have increased our oil production capacity through careful investment, so that our company is positioned to reap excellent returns to our shareholders as the price of crude oil has inevitably risen."

The U.S. auto industry could not have served the country more poorly if they had accepted a script from Osama Bin Laden himself. They did their best to lure consumers into big inefficient vehicles with fat profit margins, to the strategic detriment of the country. High gas prices will change consumer vehicle choices, but it is a painful mechanism for low and middle income people. Congress failed to lead on this issue until recently, exempting SUV's and pickups from CAFE regulation year after year while gas prices rose.
5.23.2008 8:40am
nutbump (mail):
Iraq is an OPEC member since 1960. Suing OPEC essentially means seizing all Iraq's oil property legally.
U.S. is capable to do it.
5.23.2008 8:46am
Lazlo Hollyfeld:
I often browse through the VC for something intriguing (or amusing). But this thread filled with so-called conservatives and libertarians is simply ridiculous. First-off, what is this inane mantra of “energy independence”. What does that mean exactly? If you stop and examine carefully, it really says that the United States should be petroleum independent. Energy is produced for mainly three things: electricity production, industrial processes (farming, chemicals, steel, etc.), and transportation. In the former two, the main fuels are coal, natural gas and, to a certain extant, nuclear power. For all intents and purposes, the US is fairly self-sufficient in all three, though importation of LNG will probably play a rising role in the coming years. What about oil? It accounts for 1.6% of electrical generation.
Where does oil go? Transportation (gasoline, diesel, and Jet fuel) accounts for over 70% of our oil consumption. How much does the US consume? 20.5 million barrels a day. Just how much is that? If the US had no oil and ALL of Saudi Arabia’s and Russia’s oil went to us we would still need to import some oil. The US currently produces about 8.5 million barrels a day. How much would ANWR or other off-shore sources produce? The estimates vary, but no one has claimed anything more than 1.5-2.5 MBD. That would still require us to import over 10 million barrels a day.
But what is most curious for me is the almost emotional claim that the US should, or ought to be, or somehow deserves to be energy independent. Why? The US wants something it doesn’t have. Isn’t that the most basic concept in economics? I’m sure Japan would love to be iron ore-independent. I’m sure France would have loved to be coal-independent. I’m sure numerous nations in Africa would love to be food-independent. Which brings me to another point. Are the troglodytes on this board who demand OPEC to set prices and production amenable to this country’s birthright of cheap gas also willing to force our corn and grain producers to sell food to Africans at their desired price? Mmhhhh….. I wonder.
As for the ridiculous notion that we could sue OPEC. In most OPEC nations, petroleum is considered a national, strategic asset. They will sell as much or as little as they want based on their NATIONAL INTEREST. Why? Because that’s what nations do. They maximize their national interest. Remind me again, aren’t conservatives the ones who are supposed to be telling the rest of us these uncomfortable truths? And what do you think would happen the second OPEC nations thought that the US would actually go through with this and sold their US treasuries and priced oil in Euros? Now that would be something to see.
5.23.2008 9:04am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"Getting American courts to order other countries to cease and desist from having a treaty with each other is hardly a realistic strategy. And that's what applying anti-trust to OPEC amounts to." ----->

Maybe you need to go back and re-take your class on international Law and review how to terminate a treaty. Passing federal legislation (statute, anti-trust) is not as you put it "court ordering other countries to cease and desist from having a treaty with each other."

Really, what your objection amounts to is no different than the Bush Administration deciding to follow Yoo Torture Memos and gut the Geneva Conventions to torture suspected associates six degrees removed of suspected Nationals of OPEC countries involved in 9-11.

"One might as well pass an agriculture bill permitting farmers to petition our courts to order rain to appear when there is a drought." -----> so you don't think Congress could pass an ag bill mandating cloud seeding over drought areas when it reaches a certain drought index?

Are you even a law student? how do you get the idea Congress issues court orders anyhoo?

Zarkov, I agree we have a real problem with the dollar, and the risk of change to the Euro as the international reserve currency (currency used to buy petro) is very real EVEN IF WE DO NOTHNG. Enemies and comptetitors of the U.S. know the disaster it would be, as well as we do.

Also, I did not suggest we shift away from investment to consumption; I only addressed the immediate question regarding applying anti-trust laws to OPEC to deal with the $4 a gallon gas pump prices freaking out Americans. But, since you bring up investment, please tell me, if any, what efforts are the fat-on-the-hog American oil companies and execs doing with all their 400% windfall cash to invest? Have you even seen the gut of those Exxon execs on C-Span? Looks like they're putting that money into beef steaks, if you ask me. I wonder how opulent their palaces are and thir private jets? The point is, I don't see much investment activity, just a lot of shareholder wealth. Congress needs to rein-in American oil cos. obscene profits, egulate them like utilities, and cut the CEO pay a LOT.

If we were investment-minded, we would be drilling off the coast of Florida and California, as well as probably Atlantic regions like Virginia. We can't have it both ways -- if we want cheaper oil, we are going to have to deal with oil derricks in our coastal waters. Look at the recent find in Brazil. We're energy-dumb; they're not.

Consumption vs. investment isn't as easy as the black/white dichotomy you state. You can't stop the oil consumption cold turkey and say "now we're going to invest." Consumption must continue in the short term to keep the American economy perking along. Really, we should have put more tax incentives and fast tracked energy patents to shift R&D into investment BACK IN THE NIXON 1973 OIL EMBARGO ERA AND DEFINITELY BY THE CARTER ADMINISTRATION. Instead, the handsome Ronald Reagan rode into town in his cowboy hat and decades of Republican anti-investment/oil consumption Administrations followed. We are now reaping what we sow.

The idea of halting the filling of the Strategic Oil Reserve is nutty. But so is the idea of $6 a gallon gas pump prices, or anything over $2 a gallon. The idea that high pump proces will curb demand or force multiple people into one car really has a harmful disparate impact of disabled Americans who are too poor to afford the higher prices and use their vehicles as transportation accommodatios to their respective disabilities.

The only way to deal with our problems as a matter of National Security is to raise taxes on those wealthy gravy-train-ers who have lived a life of Riley for far too long to around the 91% rate I described above, subsidize gas pump prices for those who cannot afford more than $2 a gallon, drill our coastal oil reserves, pass new tax R&D and patent law incentives, and prohibit all the global outsourcing of American jobs.
5.23.2008 9:13am
Tom952 (mail):
But what is most curious for me is the almost emotional claim that the US should, or ought to be, or somehow deserves to be energy independent. Why?

Because many of the OPEC countries are hostile to our ideologies and values, and our dependence upon undermines our self determination.
5.23.2008 9:15am
Rochesterian (mail):
Reader Y WROTE:
Getting American courts to order other countries to cease and desist from having a treaty with each other is hardly a realistic strategy. And that's what applying anti-trust to OPEC amounts to.

ReaderY, what you refer to as treaties, SHERMAN refers to as "contracts, combinations and conspiracies."

ReaderY SAID:
As many other commentators have asked, how will such an order be enforced?

It's called an Ex-Parte TRO crafted to seize and/or freeze assets from sale, transfer, hypothecation, etc. It gets filed with along the Sherman COAs on Day 1.

Easy to do. Call Price Waterhouse, employ a staff of about 500 accountants to sum-up and target OPEC and ruling family assets.

ReaderY SAID:
One likely consequence would be that a lot of countries would dump their dollar holdings, stop lending us money, cash in their existing loans, and demand payment for goods they sell to us in a safe currency like the euro.

If we had to start paying for our debts and our lifestyle in hard currency, where would we come up with it?


I will quote MKDP above. I can't top her take on things in this regard:

1. Use the anti-trust laws against BOTH OPEN Nations AND our American oil company executives living fat-on-the-hog with 400% profit increases (SA and other OPEC Nations won't protest as much of they share the pain with the other culprits);
2. Raise taxes immediately back to the Ike rate of 91% on all wealthy Americans earning/with assset accumulations over $1 million per year, and use funds to lower the gas pump prices for Americans earning/with asset accumulations under $75,000 per year to save mom &pop businesses, jobs, and America's middle class;
3. Seize all American oil company and exec's windfall profits for the above purpose described in #2;
4. Seize (freeze) OPEC and ruling family assets (tuition dollars, racehorse farms and mansions, thoroughbred racehorses, and racing prize money, and ban OPEC Nations and ruling family members and their agents from attending the Keeneland and Saratoga summer sales, etc. ...

PEACE
5.23.2008 9:17am
Lazlo Hollyfeld:
Tom,

I agree that most OPEC nations are have values inimical to ours. What I was pointing out were economic and geochemical truths. We like and use oil. We don't have enough of it domestically. Ergo, we must buy it from those who do. That's it. I personally find the values and ideology of the Walton family to be very different than mine. I like cheap, quality products. Ergo I buy from Wal-Mart. For me to chant endlessly about Wal-Mart while also saying I will not change my consumption habits would be righfuly ridiculous.
5.23.2008 9:22am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
corr:
"thir " = their
" egulate " = regulate
"proces" = prices
" disparate impact of disabled Americans " = disparate impact on disabled Americans
"transportation accommodatios" = transportation accommodations
5.23.2008 9:22am
ParatrooperJJ (mail):
Yes let's do this. Then what are we going to do when OPEC doesn't sell us any more oil? I hope people are aware that OPEC has pleanty of other customers that would love to take our share of oil.
5.23.2008 9:25am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"I agree that most OPEC nations are have values inimical to ours. What I was pointing out were economic and geochemical truths. We like and use oil. We don't have enough of it domestically." ---->

I disagree with your "geochemical truths." Look at Brazil's recent GIANT oil field find off the Atlantic. I think trade secrets of American oil companies would reveal we have the BIGGEST oils fields in the World off shore coastal areas of this Country, but if the American people are enlightned with this fact:

1. We will deplete our oil before the rest of the world does (bad for our National Security);
2. American oil co. profots will go down and the oil execis opulent homes will join the foreclosure parade going on in this Country.

I have another solution -- put that handsome horseback riding hunk Vladimir Putin in charge of American oil, and we WILL find our missing American oil fields.
5.23.2008 9:30am
Lazlo Hollyfeld:
The idea of halting the filling of the Strategic Oil Reserve is nutty. But so is the idea of $6 a gallon gas pump prices, or anything over $2 a gallon.

Marry,

The idea of a grown man getting paid over $30 million dollars to hit a leather obeject with a wooden one is nutty. The idea to pay 2 dollars for water that could be gotten out of your tap for less than a cent is nutty. The idea that people sit and spend time watching some washed-up celebrity being followed around his house while he acts like a jackass is nutty.

Charging four dollars for something people will probably be willing to pay five dollars for sounds pretty sane to me. Isn't that called supply and demand?
5.23.2008 9:30am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"I hope people are aware that OPEC has pleanty of other customers that would love to take our share of oil." --->

Yes, but the competitors don't have what most OPEC ruling families WANT ... American racehorses.

As I said, it is an Honor and culture thing with the Arabs ... "My Kingdom for a Horse."
5.23.2008 9:32am
Rochesterian (mail):
Lazlo Hollyfeld SAID
I like cheap, quality products. Ergo I buy from Wal-Mart.

Lazlo, you left out one small tid-bit. I like cheap, quality products. Ergo I buy from Wal-Mart. REGARDLESS OF THE FACT WALMART GOODS ARE MANUFACTURED AT SLAVE LABOR WAGES ABSENT ANY DEGREE OF ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS AMERICAN MANUFACTURES MUST ABIDE TO.

Deal with it Lazlo, the moment we lifted the import tariff taxes, we shut down U.S. manufacturing base and literally shipped our manufacturing equipment to China. Ever wonder who is buying up ALL THE FREGGIN' OIL, HOLMES?
5.23.2008 9:33am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"The idea of a grown man getting paid over $30 million dollars to hit a leather obeject with a wooden one is nutty." ----> What the heck are you talking about? i have autism, you need to speak literal; I'm not a mind-reader.

"Charging four dollars for something people will probably be willing to pay five dollars for sounds pretty sane to me. Isn't that called supply and demand?" ---->

My answer to THAT is --

The new ADA and RA disparate impact/removal of transportation barriers action entitled: Disabled Associated Americans v. "Exxon-Who-Does-not-Want-To-Be-Threatened-with-An-ADA-Suit."
5.23.2008 9:38am
Lazlo Hollyfeld:
until ...

OPEC, American oil companies, and U.S. interests can come to the negotiation table and work out a more reasonable arrangement that will guarantee Americans gas pump prices at $2 per gallon or under.


Mary,

I actually read your post in its entirety and am just curious about any legal, economic, historical justifications you might have for gasoline at $2 a gallon?
5.23.2008 9:38am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"I actually read your post in its entirety and am just curious about any legal, economic, historical justifications you might have for gasoline at $2 a gallon?" ----->

Easy. That's all the majority of disabled Americans can afford, and to raisee prices higher poses transportation barriers to their use of their vehicles as accommodations to theor disabilities, genius. I suspect a LOT of American single mothers have the same problem.
5.23.2008 9:42am
Rochesterian (mail):
Lazlo,
I have read some of your posts. I used to think like you until I enrolled in antitrust / unfair trade practices / intellectual property / environmental law / taxation / Americans With Disabilities Act.

It "kinda-sorta' changes the way you look at things when you read the cases and sum-up all the scams which very evil people devise/craft.

Thing is, when the market-place is left unchecked, the evil thugs always choke on their own vomit. At the end of the day, even the evil-doers are better-off with the controls set forth in the areas of jurisprudence described above.
5.23.2008 9:43am
Lazlo Hollyfeld:
Rochesterian,

I am absolutely agnostic about the points in your post. Wal-Mart may or may not be detrimental to our long-term economic well-being. You may very well be right. I was just trying to point out that rhetoric is cheap compared to actual consumption and purchasing patterns.
5.23.2008 9:44am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
corr: "raisee" = raise
" theor " = their
5.23.2008 9:44am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
" Wal-Mart may or may not be detrimental to our long-term economic well-being" ---->

*Banging my head against the wall trying to deal with YET ANOTHER critical-thinking-deficient A-B-C-D test taker.* Hello, genius, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to recognize the following:

Wal-Mart IS China.
Wal-Mart produces CHEAP goods IN CHINA to sell to Americans.
China guzzles oil.

Therefore, Wal-Mart is detrimental to the short and long-term economic health of America by inducing CHINA to engage in oil price escalation in competition with Americans to drive the Wal-Mart juggernaut.
5.23.2008 9:50am
Lazlo Hollyfeld:
Rochesterian,

I think you might have misunderstood me. I don't believe that an unfettered free market is the be-all and end-all of human existance. But I do believe in the laws of supply and demand and think a crucial distinction must be made between corporations (no matter how large or multinational) and sovereign nations.

The simple fact of the matter is that we want the oil and they have it.

Few of us think how often the roles are reversed. You think other nations (especially in the Middle East or other under-developed areas) enjoy the fact that they not only have to buy but are dependent on their airplanes, medicines, machine tools, electronics, etc. on us?
5.23.2008 9:51am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"But I do believe in the laws of supply and demand and think a crucial distinction must be made between corporations (no matter how large or multinational) and sovereign nations." ----->

Even if you might have been right before the Kentucky Derby, I belive the distinction to which you reference eviscerated when the Queen syndicate paid $50 mil for breeding rights to Big Brown just prior to his win in the Preakness Stakes.
5.23.2008 9:58am
Rochesterian (mail):
Lazlo, when we dropped the import tariffs we enabled China's economy to expand to the extent airplanes, medicines, machine tools, electronics, etc. are made by them in spades. Heck, have you seen China's newest nuke ICBM subs?

Who need U.S.A. stuff anymore, Holmes?

In a nutshell, we shop at Walfart, the $ goes to China. In turn, China buys up OPEC oil, rolls-over the incoming $ and builds super-duper ICBM nuke subs with us in mind.

RIGHT ON!!!!!
5.23.2008 10:03am
TruePath (mail) (www):
Christ we haven't even managed to internalize the externalities for use of fossil fuels yet (put a premium on them proportional to their harm) which is the economically rational thing to do. The absolute last thing we need to be doing is going around trying to force oil prices lower.

Admittedly it would be nice if we were getting the money in taxes rather than middle eastern countries but people in this country seem utterly incapable of understanding the idea of a revenue neutral gas tax, or at least have an irrationally strong reaction to it so we should be thanking opec for keeping prices higher than what they might be.
5.23.2008 11:22am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"Christ we haven't even managed to internalize the externalities for use of fossil fuels yet (put a premium on them proportional to their harm) which is the economically rational thing to do. The absolute last thing we need to be doing is going around trying to force oil prices lower. ... so we should be thanking opec for keeping prices higher than what they might be." ---->

Okay, Posnerian lego-econo thinker, here's some of those OTHER externalities you failed to mention that dictate either inducing OPEN/American oil co.s to lower the gas pump price or raise taxes on the wealthy to subsidize the gas pump price:

1. Higher gas pump prices will cause MASSIVE job losses to American's poor disabled masses, who already earn on the lower end scale and simply won't be able to afford the gas to get to work ... I believe the figure given by Congress in the Legislative History of the ADA was appx. $15 k per yr.;
2. This will lead to ENORMOUSLY increased warehousing costs for these disabled displaced American workers going from appx a 72% National unemployment rate to about a 100% disabled AMerican unemployment rate;
3. Taxpayers will have to throw in ADDITIONAL warehousing money so the disabled folks can travel to their medical doctors (disabled Americans see LOTS of doctors), etc.;
4. American innovation and productivity will drop preciptiously, since the laid-off American disabled workers disproportionately contributed to American innovation and productivity (e.g. Stephen Hawkings);
5. Food demand and food subsidies to the displaced disabled American workers will rise due to their warehousing relegating them to sitting around eating and evidencing dramatic weight gains;
etc etc etc.

In sum, just like the U.S. subsidizes American farmers, the U.S. needs to impose the above-"externalities" (or true cost of doing the oil business) on OPEC and American Oil Co.s to subsidize poor disabled Americans' gas pump prices to bring them down to around $2 per gallon.
5.23.2008 11:58am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
corr:
"OPEN" = OPEC
5.23.2008 12:01pm
M. Gross (mail):
This thread is... words... fail me.
5.23.2008 12:02pm
nutbump (mail):

Lazlo Hollyfeld:
Mary,

I actually read your post in its entirety and am just curious about any legal, economic, historical justifications you might have for gasoline at $2 a gallon?

That is exactly the price of gasoline per gallon calculated in Euros.
5.23.2008 12:28pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano:

You still haven't told us what the US could do if OPEC declared an oil embargo against us in retaliation for an asset seizure. They've done it twice before (for other reasons), and I don't see why they can't do it again. It seems to me that this is make a bad situation even worse.

"Also, I did not suggest we shift away from investment to consumption;..."

When you call for increased taxes on personal income and corporations that's exactly what you call for. High income individuals invest most of their income. Corporations either invest their after-tax revenues or give them to their stockholders in the form of dividends. You want to increase taxes and give the money to low income individuals who consume most of their income. How is that not a shift from investment to consumption? Something has to determine investment allocation.

You want to levy a "windfall" profits tax on oil companies. If you look at the graph I provided you will see that that the price of oil was pretty stable between 1985 and 2004. It was a mediocre business to be in all those years, and some smaller oil companies went out business in that period. Windfall profit taxes raise investment risk and the market will adjust for that by directing capital away from the industry. Is that what you want? Exactly who do you want to make decisions on where capital should be invested?
5.23.2008 12:46pm
ruralcounsel (mail) (www):
What crossed my mind was that if OPEC was violating US anti-trust regulations, by "conspiring" with their own sovereign natural resources ....

... seems like there might be some counter cases against the US and the co-signors of nuclear non-proliferation treaties. That seems like a pretty vast conspiracy to control products and processes of nuclear energy.

Which leads me to think that this has got to be a pretty big timewaster for Congress ... posturing ineffectually (we might hope). Congress seems schizophrenic ... they can't decide if we should wean off of an oil economy, or if they want it cheap so it can continue.
5.23.2008 12:52pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano:

"American innovation and productivity will drop preciptiously, since the laid-off American disabled workers disproportionately contributed to American innovation and productivity (e.g. Stephen Hawkings);..."


Stephen Hawkings is not an American, nor does he live in America. Moreover, Hawkings is a theoretical physicist who specializes is cosmology, General Relativity and Black Holes (Hawking Radiation). How does he affect American innovation and productivity? Are you asserting that Hawkings is typical of the disabled?

You have presented no evidence that American productivity significantly depends on the skills, knowledge and ability of the disabled. Aren't they more of a cost than an asset in an economic sense? Now I agree that the disabled should be cared for, but that does not mean we should let their interests drive the economy as you suggest.
5.23.2008 12:56pm
ruralcounsel (mail) (www):

In sum, just like the U.S. subsidizes American farmers, the U.S. needs to impose the above-"externalities" (or true cost of doing the oil business) on OPEC and American Oil Co.s to subsidize poor disabled Americans' gas pump prices


Everyone needs to eat. Not everyone needs to drive.

The lower economic tiers of society will find themselves priced out of modern transportation ... and perhaps that is the way it should be. Maybe we'll have fewer "drive-by" shootings! They may find that this kind of economic dislocation will actually provide them with some new opportunities for crafting their own micro-economies, rather than continuing to play in the current one that they have failed at.

Perhaps we've seen the high water mark of an oil-based civilization that trended towards egalitarian.
5.23.2008 1:01pm
KeithK (mail):
This thread is... words... fail me.

Seconded.
5.23.2008 1:51pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
The US needs to increase its liquid fuel supplies one way or another. Congress is grandstanding with this OPEC lawsuit, and it provides a distraction from the real problem. Congress needs to remove barriers to drilling and exploration and encourage a shift to synfuels production. Until we develop a high energy density battery we will need liquid fuels for transportation. No amount of "alternative energy" development is going to change this, short of a transition to something like hydrogen which is too expensive and will take too long to implement.

The global warming problem should be resolved. I propose funding an independent effort that would review and replicate all the work of the IPCC. We need to insure that the effort is absolutely independent of the IPCC and will get shut down when it completes its work. It would also need full access to all IPCC work and be required to remain at arms length from them.
5.23.2008 2:03pm
ak47pundit (www):

nutbump (mail):
Iraq is an OPEC member since 1960. Suing OPEC essentially means seizing all Iraq's oil property legally.
U.S. is capable to do it.



What the heck the State Department et. al. were thinking when after the invasion we let Iraq stay in OPEC?

There was a great opportunity to breakdown the OPEC cartel that has been and still is against America's interests and they blew it nicely.
5.23.2008 2:53pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
I think under sovereign immunity we would have to declare war on the OPEC countries to get the taps flowing any harder. Remembering the 1973 Arab oil embargo, which even the wily Nixon could not stop, I think going to war with the supplier of 2/3 of our oil supply is a bad idea.

Americans bought gas guzzling trucklets to haul their families and soccer teams around after EPA fuel economy regulation eliminated full size cars. Not everybody is a 2+2 family, and trucklets were exempted from the fleet fuel economy requirements.
5.23.2008 3:54pm
zippypinhead:
Back to the original topic -- Dave, in your 2001 anti-U.S. v. Microsoft screed (which you helpfully reminded me of by linking to it), you wrote the following:
The Sherman Act today is what it always has been: a tool for failed competitors to win in the political arena what they cannot achieve by satisfying customers in the free market. The fast pace of the digital era makes relying on government bureaucracies even less defensible today than it was in the past. It is long past time to repeal the pernicious Sherman Act.
But now you attempt to explain away your call for the repeal of the antitrust laws by writing "my objections do not apply when governments are the monopolists."

Leaving aside all the practical and diplomatic problems raised by suing foreign soverigns that have been so graphically laid out by other comments on this thread, I am still perplexed by the obvious inconsistency in your positions. Particularly since I have it on good authority you actually got an "A" in Professor Tom Kauper's antitrust course way back in law school.

At bottom, you appear to be confusing the VERY different types of conduct implicated by different antitrust prohibitions. Your objections in 2001 and, extrapolating from your government vs. private monopolist comment, in 2008, appear to run primarily, if not exclusively, to §2 of the Sherman Act (prohibiting monopolies), and perhaps §7 of the Clayton Act (prohibiting anticompetitive mergers).

The allegations against OPEC, however, are that the member states engage in collusive price-fixing, which virtually all industrial organization economists agree is nearly always detrimental to consumer welfare. And which is subject to both civil and criminal enforcement under §1 of the Sherman Act. The fact that OPEC's oil is controlled by a group of soverign states rather than private corporations is little more than a geographic and/or historical accident. In the Western world at least, other commodity extraction industries are generally in private corporate hands (think coal, metals, etc).

But the harm, whether imposed by colluding governments or colluding corporations, is identical. Indeed, the problem with OPEC is that a group of soverign states are participating in commercial markets and acting like private profit-maximizing parties. Albeit without the constraints imposed on private parties by the antitrust laws. In the oil market, whether the collusion is by a multi-governmental cartel at the raw material extraction point or a pan-industry private cartel of "big oil" at a downstream point like refining, there would be an identical effect -- the excess/monopoly rent available in the market is transferred from the consumer and captured by the colluding parties.

The basis for both per-se illegality and criminalizing of price fixing and bid-rigging under section 1 of the Sherman Act is that such conduct: (a) is almost never pro-consumer; (b) is inherently fraudulent, since the colluding competitors generally hold themselves out as making independent pricing decisions when that is a lie; and (c) is less intrusive and disruptive of the free market than almost any other effective regulatory scheme, since simply telling people they have to compete rather than collude does less violence to unfettered capitalism than most alternatives, such as extensive governmental regulation of competition, command pricing economies, and pretty much anything else you can think of (this last is a decidedly libertarian explanation of the wisdom of antitrust).

So in fact, by endorsing a Sherman Act §1 attack on OPEC, aren't you in fact saying that antitrust DOES have a role in policing collusion, regardless whether the actor is a government versus private entity? Or to put it differently, in fact your 2001 call for the repeal of the Sherman Act in toto really has no merit?
5.23.2008 4:08pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Zarkov, your chart of oil prices is five months out of date. Oil is now over $130, literally off the top of the chart you posted. (As the chart is in 2007 dollars, the adjustment for inflation is too small to matter.)

So oil is indeed at an all-time high as measured in dollars. In euro, that might be something else.
5.23.2008 4:30pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
Okay, Zark,

"You have presented no evidence that American productivity significantly depends on the skills, knowledge and ability of the disabled. Aren't they more of a cost than an asset in an economic sense" ---->

Yes that is a great mouthful of psycho-babble; why don't you go tell it to the following icons of American history/ productivity what you think of the second-class status of disabled Americans and how they offer no worth to our Great Country:

1. George Washington, Founding Father and President of the United States (learning disability, could barely write and had poor grammar);
2. Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States (learning disability, severely dyslexic);
3. Calvin Coolidge, President of the United States (asthma);
4. James Garfield, President of the United States (Aspergers,s able to write in Latin with one hand, and in Greek with the other hand…at the same time (Botham, 2006, p. 4));
5. Abraham Lincoln,President of the United States (depression);
6. Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States (epileptic seizures, vision impairment, asthma);
7. Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States (polio, wheelchair user);
8. John F. Kennedy, President of the United States (asthma);
9. William Taft, President of the United States and Chief Justice of the united states Supreme Court (got stuck in his bathtub on the day of his Inauguration, and “had to be pried out by his attendants,” (Botham, 2006, p. 5), eating disorders part of Asperger’s Syndrome and autism);
10. George Patton, leading U.S. Army general in World War II in campaigns in North Africa, Sicily, France, and Germany, 1943–1945, Virginia Military Institute, West Point (did not begin his formal education until age 11, dyslexia);
11. Thomas 'Stonewall' Jackson, Confederate general during the American Civil War, probably the most revered Confederate commander after General Robert E. Lee, rose to prominence and earned his most famous nickname at the First Battle of Bull Run (also known as First Manassas) in July 1861 (OCD);
12. Albert Einstein, great scientist of the twentieth century and notable physicist of all time, theory of relativity, Noble Prize in Physics in 1921 (autism-learning disability, dyslexia, bad memory with constant failure to memorize the simplest of things);
13. Alexander Graham Bell, (learning disability);
14. Thomas Edison, great inventor who has over 1000 patents and his inventions are in various fields used in our daily life, inventor of the Phonograph, Electric Bulb, carbon telephone transmitter, carbon microphone (learning disability, could not read until age 12, unable to write until much older, dyslexic, deaf, a problem child, and a mischief-maker);
15. Charles Schwab, founder and CEO of the Charles Schwab Schwab Corporation (dyslexia-learning disability that makes reading and writing difficult);
16. Buzz Aldrin, American astronaut (depression and alcoholism);
17. Alan Shepard, first American in space and fifth person to walk on the moon, commanding the Apollo 14 mission (Meniere's Disease);
18. Howard Hughes, Aviator and American icon (Tourettes);
19. Truman Capote, American writer whose stories, novels, plays, and non-fiction are recognized literary classics, including the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's and In Cold Blood (epilepsy);
20. Louis Braille, became blind after he accidentally stabbed himself in the eye with his father's awl, inventor and designed braille (blind);
21. Edward Hallowell, child and adult psychiatrist who specialises in ADD/ADHD and who also has ADHD, created The Hallowell Center for Cognitive and Emotional Health in Sudbury, MA, alumni of Harvard and also on the faculty of Harvard Medical School since 1983 (ADHD);
22. Doc Holliday, Dentist, gambler and gunfighter of the American Old West frontier (cleft palate and partly cleft lip);
23. Walt Disney, famous producer, director, animator, Disney Land and Disney World (learning disability);
24. Martin Scorsese, American Academy Award-winning film director, writer, producer and film historian, one of the most significant and influential American filmmakers of his era, directing landmark films such as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and Goodfellas; all of which he colloborated on with legendary actor Robert DeNiro (OCD);
25. Mike Wallace, American journalist, correspondent for CBS's 60 Minutes (clinical depression triggered by accusations of libel and a related lawsuit);
26. Richard Dreyfuss, Academy Award-winning American Actor, office, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind (bi-polar);
27. Dan Ackroyd, Actor and American icon (tourette's and asperger syndromes);
28. Robin Williams, Hollywood Star (ADHD);
29. Tom Cruise, Hollywood Star and Scientologist (severely dyslexic);
30. Richard Burton, Hollywood Star and husband of Elizabeth Taylor (epilepsy);
31. Elizabeth Taylor, two time Academy Award winning English American actress, known as one of the greatest actresses of Hollywood's golden years, National Velvet (asthma);
32. George Burns, Academy-Award winning Jewish-American actor and comedian (dyslexia);
33. Harrison Ford, Actor: Star Wars, "Indiana" Jones (depression with sleep disorder);
34. Mia Farrow, renowned American actress and has appeared in over 40 films winning several awards, Unicef Goodwill Ambassador (polio);
35. Bruce Willis, Hollywood leading man and supporting actor (stuttering);
36. Leonardo DiCaprio, three-time Academy Award-nominated and Golden Globe Award-winning American actor, garnered world wide fame for his role in Titanic (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder);
37. Jimmy Stewart, iconic, Academy Award-winning American film and stage actor, classics The Philadelphia Story, Harvey, It's a Wonderful Life, Rear Window, Rope, and Vertigo (stuttered speech, long legs and clumsy hands);
38. Casey Pieretti, actor and stuntman who has had a life full of tragedy and triumph, triathlete, skated as amputee on inline skates from San Diego, CA to Washington, DC in 1993 (at nineteen, while on a college basketball scholarship, struck by a drunk driver, loss of right leg below the knee);
39. Gary Burghoff, Actor: Corporal Walter Eugene "Radar" O'Reilly in the M*A*S*H series and Charlie Brown in the 1967 off-Broadway musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown (club foot and four short fingers on left hand);
40. Alan Alda, five-time Emmy Award-winning, six-time Golden Globe-winning, Academy Award-nominated American actor, most famous for his role as Hawkeye Pierce in M.A.S.H. (polio);
41. Charlie Sheen, Actor: Ferris Bueller's Day Off" (OCD);
42. Brooke Shields, child model, Vogue, Calvin Klein, American Actress (severe postpartum depression);
43. Stacy Keach, American actor and narrator, dramatic roles, educational programming on PBS and the Discovery Channel, as well as some comedy and musical roles (a cleft lip and a partial cleft of the hard palate);
44. Whoopi Goldberg, American actress, comedian, radio host, TV personality, game show host, and author (dyslexia);
45. Henry Winkler, Golden Globe Award-winning American actor, director, producer and author, most famous for his role as Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli on sitcom Happy Days (1974–1984) (dyslexia).
46. Nicholas Brendon, Actor Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003);
47. Cher, musical duo with Sonny Bono (dyslexia);
48. Johnnie Ray, American singer, songwriter, and pianist (became deaf in his right ear at age 13 after an accident during a Boy Scout event);
49. Stevie Wonder, is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer (blind);
50. Michael Bolton, famous pop and rock singer, sold 53 million albums (deaf in one ear);
51. Marlee Matlin, 1987 Academy Award for Best Actress (deaf);
52. Tiger Woods, American professional golfer whose achievements to date rank him among the most successful golfers of all time (stuttering);
53. Jack Nicklaus, known as "The Golden Bear," thought by many to be the greatest golfer of all times (polio);
54. Charles Woodson, an American football cornerback for the Green Bay Packers, Heisman Trophy (club foot);
55. Lawrence Sherry, Most Valuable Player of the 1959 World Series for the Dodgers (two club feet);
56. Marla Runyon, Olympic athlete 1500 metre track (first blind woman to represent the U.S. in the Olympic Games);
57. Kristi Yamaguchi, American figure skater, 1992 Olympic Champion in women's singles, two World Figure Skating Championships 1991 &1992, U.S. Figure Skating Championships 1992, two national titles 1989 &1990, junior world title 1988 as a pairs skater with Rudy Galindo, 2005 inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame (club feet);
58. Bruce Jenner, U.S. track athlete, known principally for winning the decathlon in the 1976 Summer Olympics, broke the world record by scoring 8,634 points and earned the title, "World's Greatest Athlete" (grew up terrified of reading due to dyslexia);
59. Christopher Reeve, Superman (quadraplegia, wheelchair user);
60. Tom Whittaker, first disabled person to climb to the summit of Mount Everest, founded the Cooperative Wilderness Handicapped Outdoor Group (C.W.HOG) in Pocatello, Idaho, on May 27, 1998, on his third attempt, Whittaker reached the summit of Mt. Everest, a lifelong dream, making him the first person with a disability to accomplish this feat (right foot amputated following a car accident in 1979. Through training, his prosthetic foot became an advantage to climbing rather than a disadvantage);
61. Thaddeus Stevens, known as "The Great Commoner," United States Representative from Pennsylvania, Radical Republican, gained fame as a lawyer defending runaway slaves, encouraged strong, sweeping action by the federal government to revolutionize the institutions and culture that bolstered white supremacy in the South (club foot)
62. Daniel Inouye, recipient of the Medal of Honor, senior United States Senator from Hawaii (over forty years) (lost his right arm in the war, but he remained in the military until 1947, discharged with the rank of captain);
63. Thomas Jefferson, Founding Father, political philosopher, a man of the Enlightenment, horticulturist, statesman, architect, archaeologist, paleontologist, author, inventor and founder of the University of Virginia (autism speech difference).
64. Jesse Jackson, American civil rights activist and Baptist minister, candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988, served as "shadow senator" for the District of Columbia from 1991 to 1997, founder of both entities that merged to form Rainbow/PUSH (Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr. is his eldest son) (cleft);
65. Kenneth Starr, American lawyer and former judge, appointed to the Office of the Independent Counsel to investigate the suicide death of the deputy White House counsel Vince Foster and the Whitewater land transactions by President Bill Clinton, later submitted to Congress the Starr Report, which led to Clinton's impeachment on charges arising from the Monica Lewinsky scandal, dean of Pepperdine University School of Law in Malibu, California (Starr did not go to Vietnam, classified 4-F, due to a case of psoriasis);
66. Bill Gates, first business, Traff-O-Data, involved the creation of a machine recording the number of cars passing a point on a road (Aspergers);
67. Donald Trump, American business executive, property tycoon, entrepreneur, television and radio personality and author, known for his catchphrase "You're Fired" on TV show "The Apprentice" (has germ phobia that makes him afraid to shake hands, borderline obsessive compulsive disorder, terrified of germs, refuses to touch the ground floor button of a lift and avoids shaking hands with people - especially teachers).
68. Julia Roberts, Academy Award-winning actress and former fashion model, highest paid actress in the world, topping the annual power list of top earning female stars for four consecutive years (2002-2005) (stuttering);

And, ...

although not "American," I must also point out that Socrates (470 BCE–399 BCE), founder of Legal Thinking Style of All American Law Schools, like our Great and Honorable Chief justice John Roberts, Jr., had epileptic seizures.

A person with Aspergers ALMOST WROTE THE DECLARATION OF INDEPDENCE!

Benjamin Franklin, considered to be one of the most important of the Founding Fathers of our country, was a theorist, author, politician, scientist, activist, and diplomat. His scientific contributions included physics, discovery of electricity, and theories regarding electricity (Wikipedia, 2007); he was also the first head of the post office.

An advocate of rule and order, with sorting tendencies, Benjamin Franklin's peers, though accepting him into the legal profession, due to his Apspergers (notorious for an extreme or different sense of humor) Franklin's lawyer-colleagues "did not give him the assignment of writing the Declaration of Independence because they feared that he would conceal a joke in it” (Botham, 2006, pp. 17-18).

Zark ... you ready to eat your words?

Tax the wealthy, OPEC, American Oil Cos. to subsidize those disabled Americans need for gas pump prices not to exceed $2 per gallon so the above-list can grow.

Of, and I almost forgot one more disabled American thought sufficiently significant in the making of American history that Wikipedia reserved a page for posterity ...

see here
5.23.2008 6:11pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):
Begging your pardon, but I don't really thing the arabs give a #$@$#@!!!! about disabled-american identity politics.
5.23.2008 6:37pm
Forsooth And:
Look into oil depletion for yourself: Read up on Matthew Simmons' "Twilight in the Desert" and Robert Hirsch's Mitigation report, also look at the IEA's latest comments. Monopolistic behavior is not the main reason this amazingly-useful substance has dramatically risen in price since 2004. The inability of production to keep pace with demand is the primary reason. We do not believe in downward-sloping supply curves, but they can and do happen in depletion situations.
Many are afraid to say "peak oil" because they might be labeled as nutty. I am not a doomer--I hope we develop or discover an inexpensive alternate energy source particularly suited for transportation. Wise businesses would make that an R&D priority, and some have suggested that Congress establish prizes for such a discovery, similar to the British prize for accurately measuring Longitude. But unfortunately most of Congress (save Roscoe Bartlett) and the pundits are utterly ignorant on this issue, and go about chasing stupid or even harmful policies such as suing OPEC and buying votes through utterly-wasteful spending.
5.23.2008 6:47pm
Colin (mail):
M. Gross: This thread is... words... fail me.

They should have sent a poet.
5.23.2008 6:49pm
zippypinhead:
+1 to Ryan Waxx.

Guys, can we at least try to stay somewhat near the general topic of the original posting? Which I think may have had something to do with NOPEC and/or the application of the Sherman Act to a cartel consisting exclusively of sovereign states.

Tho at the risk of steering this poor, unfortunate thread even FURTHER into the bottomless tarpit, I do have to note that Mary Katherine is far from the only commentor on Professor Volokh's blog with a reserved Wikipedia page... ;)
5.23.2008 7:05pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"Mary,

I actually read your post in its entirety and am just curious about any legal, economic, historical justifications you might have for gasoline at $2 a gallon?" ----->

Reader Y, see my post above for the Why.

"When you call for increased taxes on personal income and corporations that's exactly what you call for. High income individuals invest most of their income. Corporations either invest their after-tax revenues or give them to their stockholders in the form of dividends" ---->

Well, you know, Zark, high income individuals "investment" is an poor person's characterization as "consumer spending." You can't "invest" without spending money. What you really have issue with is WHO gets to spend the money -- the wealthy or the poor. And with your take on he issue, what comes along with your characterization is a patronization of the poor and unable to spend wisely or intelligently, all of which is unsupported bogus nonsense. If you want to see the justification for "investment" by effecting the tax-subsidy transfer I proposed my above-described post demonstrates investment in disabled Americans by bringing their gas pump price to $2 a gallon or less is an investment with MANY RETURNS to America.

"Everyone needs to eat. Not everyone needs to drive." -----> only an A-B-C-D ignoramus would say something that STUPID.

Wrong answer, you get an "F" in solving the oil crisis in an anti-discriminatory manner. In Galusha v. New York State Dep't Envtl. Conservation, 27 F.Supp.2d 125 (N.D.N.Y. 1998) (motorized vehicles constituted reasonable accommodation for disabled persons to travel the distances to access the wilderness). Disabled Americans both need to eat and drive.

"Congress needs to remove barriers to drilling and exploration and encourage a shift to synfuels production." ----> leading to the great Land O'Lakes Purina Mills, LLC moldy corn aflatoxin horse feed poisoning events of Nov. 2007-Mar.2008 caused by ethanol taking up all the good horse feed quality corn.

"Until we develop a high energy density battery we will need liquid fuels for transportation." ----> I'm with you there.

"The global warming problem should be resolved." ----> Okay, why don't you just stand up on your podium like Ceasar and decree it to stop! Like this: "Oh Global Warming, Wherefore Art Thou, now I Decree It All Shall STOP, including that cascading methane release from all the rotting Mastodon carcases up thar in that Siberia territory!"

"Remembering the 1973 Arab oil embargo, which even the wily Nixon could not stop" -----> Yes, but Nixon put price controls on milk, which is currently skyrocketing out of control.

"You still haven't told us what the US could do if OPEC declared an oil embargo against us in retaliation for an asset seizure. They've done it twice before (for other reasons), and I don't see why they can't do it again. It seems to me that this is make a bad situation even worse." ------>

Zark, you do have a point. They could retaliate against us at any time for any reason, even just because they don't like us or we won't share our women. The Earth could heat up, too. Sea levels might rise. Whatyagonnado?

Maybe the President need to climb himself on the back of a horse (I know that is HARD, working real HARD) and ride on down to the oil wells with King Abdulla and see what more can be accomplished during mutually enjoyable activities (from the king's perspective)from the back of a horse. Maybe a oil-gas pump price reduction agreement can be unfurled enroute from a scroll.
5.23.2008 7:20pm
Rochesterian (mail):
Z,
There's a dandy little book in Kinkos titled: "Our Iceberg is Melting."

The biggest fools in the book are the characters who keep telling Fred the Penguin (who knows the habitat iceberg is melting) "Fred, lets do another study on whether our iceberg is melting."

Redundant G/W studies buy you and yours the time to unload the high-maintenance garbage you acquired post-Reagan tax cuts (McMansion/Motorhome/motoryacht/SUV) to some poor sap you convince that G/W is not proven yet. Face it, G/W has you and everyone else scared #hitless.

Things will not get remotely better until:

(1) fuel rationing takes effect;
(2) income taxes are raised on America's top earners to pre-Kennedy levels of 91%;
(3) import tariffs are returned to pre-Walmart levels;
(4) transportation infrastructure is rebuilt to remove petro cars from the equation altogether.
5.23.2008 7:52pm
Rochesterian (mail):
My above post is meant for Zarkov.
5.23.2008 7:55pm
Smokey:
Rochesterian:

How are things in your little Stalinist world these days?
5.23.2008 8:02pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano

Your definition of "disabled" is highly elastic. For example I would hardly call TR disabled in any meaningful sense. He had asthma as a child, yet he was a rough rider. Virtually everyone has some kind of medical abnormality, any person normal in every way would be atypical. Are we supposed to do an income transfer to anyone with any kind of medical condition? Not only that, you have failed to show how the disabled as a group are more productive than the non-disabled. Cherry picking a bunch of people from historical figures with a variety of medical conditions hardly proves anything, unless somehow you can assert that your picks provide a representative sample of the disabled as a group.

"Well, you know, Zark, high income individuals "investment" is an poor person's characterization as "consumer spending." You can't "invest" without spending money.


If I buy 100 share of IBM, how does that constitute "consumer spending." What have I consumed? When I consume something, I decrease its value, usually to zero. That's what we mean by consumption. If I buy wheat and eat it, I've consumed, but if I buy wheat because I believe it will go up in price, I'm investing or at least speculating. If I buy a car to drive for my personal use, that consuming, but if I buy a car to use as a taxi that creates a revenue stream that's investing. I hope the distinction is clear by now.

"And with your take on he issue, what comes along with your characterization is a patronization of the poor and unable to spend wisely or intelligently,..."


I never said anything like that. I simply said that people with low incomes must of necessity spend most or all of it. They don't have surplus income to invest. I made no judgments as to their prowess in what they consume or their prowess in investing if somehow they did get surplus income at some future time.

"... leading to the great Land O'Lakes Purina Mills, LLC moldy corn aflatoxin horse feed poisoning events of Nov. 2007-Mar.2008 caused by ethanol taking up all the good horse feed quality corn."

Your are confusing synfuels with biofuels. Synfuel means something like coal gasification. The process yields more energy out then you put in. On the other hand, biofuels often don't. I am completely against the ethanol program for reasons which are obvious by now. We know synfuels work because Germany ran their war machine of it.

"They could retaliate against us at any time for any reason,..."

They could, but the probability that they will is much higher if we attach their assets. If we attach their assets they are likely to retaliate as a deterrence or because they will lose face it they don't.
5.23.2008 8:04pm
Rochesterian (mail):
Smokey, could you be so kind to expand on your view I am "Stalinist" beyond my open admission I share Stalin's admiration for the beauty/charm of Russian women?
5.23.2008 8:11pm
Smokey:
Rochestrian:

OK, since you asked:

(1) fuel rationing [that is so Jimmy Carter/1970's. And completely unnecessary -- high prices are already having a more efficient rationing effect. BTW, do you only get gasoline on odd days of the week, and only fill up with 5 gallons at a time? Didn't think so.]

(2) income taxes are raised on America's top earners to pre-Kennedy levels of 91% [Yikes! That will certainly spank the productive members of society for getting an education, setting the alarm for 5 a.m. every day, working 12 hour days, nose to the grindstone, etc. But hey, who needs new computers, new medicines, doctors, programmers, etc., anyway? I'm sure that the janitor proletariat will provide their products, and at a much lower price].

(3) import tariffs are returned to pre-Walmart levels [shades of Smoot-Hawley! Worldwide depression, here we come. Cue the upcoming Hitler/Stalin pact.]

(4) transportation infrastructure is rebuilt to remove petro cars from the equation altogether. [You first. And you only ride a bicycle, is that right? No car? Or are you one of them "do as I say, not as I do" folks?]

OK, next question...
5.23.2008 8:37pm
Smokey:
Rochestrian:

At least we agree on Russian women.
5.23.2008 8:38pm
Rochesterian (mail):
Smokey,
(1) Fuel rationing: Dad said it worked out O.K. during WWII; I cannot state the who/what/when/why/where/how it was pulled-off, but it was.

(2) 91% taxes on the wealthiest. Well, in 1957 I believe it was for $1m and up. I imagine that would put the present figure up to about $10M (roughly?). The money is desperately needed to wrap-up the current "7 Years' War" and new infrastructure.

(3) Import taxes: Current U.S. demand for China manufactured goods results in China buying OPEC oil to the extent demand has pushed the U.S. price to the breaking point. Reverse the trend, starve-off China-imports here to the extent they reduce their demand for OPEC oil and U.S. manufacturing gets back on line (jobs here).

(4) Transportation infrastructure: Build accessible rail, subway, inter-urbans, lanes dedicated for light-electric car traffic. As it stands, I personally drive a big car to avoid being crushed by another big car.

PEACE
5.23.2008 9:01pm
Smokey:
I personally drive a big car to avoid being crushed by another big car.
That's what all the social engineers say, when they're telling us to give up our cars.

Anyway, no need to argue, I've made my point. But you really should read this, since you apparently think the only personal wealth we should be allowed to have is what the beneficent Big Government deems necessary.

Peace/Out, flower child.
5.23.2008 9:28pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
Rochesterian, I think THIS comment of yours directed to Zark really freaked out ol' Smokey -- I should have clued you in: Smokey is a Global Warming denialist who can truly produce substantially more word volume than an autistic (I've see it):

"Z,
There's a dandy little book in Kinkos titled: "Our Iceberg is Melting."

The biggest fools in the book are the characters who keep telling Fred the Penguin (who knows the habitat iceberg is melting) "Fred, lets do another study on whether our iceberg is melting.""

Zark, "Virtually everyone has some kind of medical abnormality, any person normal in every way would be atypical" ---->

Does that include all the bar applicants for the last century who have disclosed their "virtually everyone atypical abnormality" on their bar applications, as I'm sure they have?

And I like this one, too:

"Your definition of "disabled" is highly elastic" ---->

Shhhhh. I won't be able to argue the following with a straight face before the Chief Justice:

'Carpal tunnel rises to the level of a protected substantially limiting disability because it is not just a repetative stress injury anymore, since it is now known that carpal tunnel is indicative of diabetes is developing such that there are one or more substantially limiting disabilities in the major life activities of manual performance, eating, sleeping, seeing, concentrating, and thinking. Therefore Toyota Motor is ni loinger good law due to the advancement of science, medical knowledge, and technology.'

On a more serious note, however, TR has a "record of" disability; he would have been covered.

Regarding your definition of "consumer spending," Zark, waaay too many inconsistencies and far too vague. You spent $$ to purchase IBM stock = consumer spending. You spent $$ to buy a car to use as a taxi that creates a revenue stream and call it "investing" = consumer spending for investment purposes. You spent $$ to buy wheat because you believe it will go up in price = consumer spending for investment purposes or, worse, gambling ("speculating").

Unable to really persuade me you are not simply cooking the books, your "distinction" conflates "consumer spending" into an entirely differently defined concept, "consumption."

Here's where the flawed logic comes in: You can spend $$ on an item (tangible or intangible) and that = "consumer spending;" the definition of the $$ you spent to carry out the activity of "consumer spending" is not dependent on what you do with/what happens to the item after you spent your $$ to purchase it. "Consumer spending" = simply a purchase.

You could make a good decision in what you chose to spend your $$ on (the act of "consumer spending"), say designating the item as "an investment" or a stash of cash you expect to lose by gambling it away (but if you're a lucky dog, you will hit the jackpot). It could go either way (and that is the concept of probability % of risk) -- good vs. bad. If you made a bad decision in what you chose to spend your $$ on (the act of "consumer spending"), say designating the item as "an investment" that subsequently became worthless (e.g. coastal home sunk below the water level as the G/W sea levels rise) or a stash of cash you lose by gambling it away, the you engaged in the act of "consumer spending" but got nothing for your effort.

"Consumption" is really in its accurate sense more a term applicable to depreciable business assets, i.e. assets you use up over a certain # of years specified by the Tax Code for which you depreciate from essentially purchase down to $0, with the policy concept that this allows you to recapture sufficient funds to replace the item when it has become used up and worthless.

As I said, your version was one with the distinct flavor of cooked books, and I know it is a Republican thing, but I do forgive you as long as you don't think you can fool me more than once!
5.23.2008 11:19pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
corr: "is ni loinger" = is no longer"
5.23.2008 11:22pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano

Consumer spending is money spent on consumption items. Consumption items are items not designed to produce future cash flows. When you buy a stock you are not consuming. Why would anyone buy a stock if he didn't expect to make money on it? No one buys stock for the pure joy of buying stock. Therefore one can say "consumer spending is not simply a purchase." These are standard concepts in finance, economics and accounting. If you don't believe me, then do a little googling. You can make up your own terms, but then you'll have a hard time communicating.

If you want to do science at the level of children's books then how about Chicken Little?
5.24.2008 12:38am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Rochesterian:

"Redundant G/W studies buy you and yours the time to unload the high-maintenance garbage you acquired post-Reagan tax cuts (McMansion/Motorhome/motoryacht/SUV) to some poor sap you convince that G/W is not proven yet."

I own none of those things. I have driven compact fuel efficient cars for the last 30 years. I have never owned a gas guzzler. I have never owned a house with more than 2,500 square feet. Nevertheless I don't want to change the economy of the world without a high level of confidence and we don't have that. There are numerous unresolved questions about the IPCC work which I have posted about many times. Google me.
5.24.2008 12:47am
Smokey:
Zarkov is right, of course. Rochestrian is a typical lib hypocrite, who says that we must "remove petro cars from the equation altogether."

Then, when pinned down, he admits that, "I personally drive a big car..."

So it's no car for the rest of us, but Mr. R gets to have a gas-guzzler. Could he possibly be more hypocritical? [Rhetorical question; we know the answer.]

Oh, and MKDP is now a global warming expert, qualified to label those she disagrees with as "denialists"? Heh. Not too long ago, MKDP, in all seriousness, linked to this site expressing her terror at the prospect of the military controlling the weather.

Hey, if anyone could control the weather, we wouldn't need weathermen or computer models to give us consistently wrong predictions, would we?

For protection from the evil weather manipulators, Mary K could probably use one of these. Couldn't hurt. Might help.
5.24.2008 10:47am
Rochesterian (mail):
Rochesterian hates driving Dad's (RIP) Caddy; I'm just avoiding being cushed by some nut-case racing to wherever in big SUV while talking on a cell-phone.

W/I the past 5 years, I have been rear-ended several times by big cars going very fast. Twice, the hitter attempted to run.

The gas price is rising to the breaking point with no end in sight; thus, the entire transportation infrastructure needs to be quickly re-vamped to rail, subways, inter-urbans and light electric cars. It's gonna cost so much money to accomplish, the tax structure will have to be changed to Eisenhower-era rates to foot the bill.
5.24.2008 1:33pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"Oh, and MKDP is now a global warming expert, qualified to label those she disagrees with as "denialists"? Heh" ——> Awww shucks,Smokey, I have called you a global warming denialist for a long time now.

Regarding your "buy 1 get 1 free" ward-off-the-global-warming-demon-silver-beanine-hat idea, it might be a little too hot here in Florida to wear something like that ... we appear to be having the warmest spring-summer on record yet (due to global warming). Toasting Florida's coasts, as they say.

On another note, Smoke, after The House Select Committee On Energy Independence And Global Warming officials posted THIS new global warming map to prepare Floridians for the coming G/W sea level rise, Florida's housing market foreclosure situation really went into a freefall tailspin. I'll bet right this vry monet you could get yourself that white sandy beachfront condo you have always been dreaming about for about the same price as that beanie hat!

"Then, when pinned down, he admits that, 'I personally drive a big car...'" ——-> Awww, Zark, don't let ol' Rochesterian pull your leg. Pop's caddy remains parked in the garage due to no one here beng able to afford to drive it at $4 per gallon gas pump prices. Roch drives a compacy Chrysler, himself. We are looking for a more fuel efficient hybrid, but if things really turn South, I'm afraid I will have to get down out of the saddle, hook up the horses, and climb into the buggy to get into town for provisions.

"Nevertheless I don't want to change the economy of the world without a high level of confidence and we don't have that." ——> Sometimes, Zark, life doesn't work that way, in nice tidy little A-B-C-D test boxes operating under perfectly controlled conditions. As they taught this autistic in M.B.A. class, sometimes circumstances are changing so fast and not within our control, that one has to make a quick decision akin to shooting from the hip. The trick under such dynamic scenarios is to be able to think fast enough on one's feet to be accurate in the decision chosen.

See, Zark, the way your perfect world would work is while riding a horse, you would remain at a walk and not want to change the horse's gait "without a high level of confidence." But, the horse, having a mind of his own, spooks at a shadow, and takes off full tilt at a gallop, with you hanging on to the reins screaming "help meeeeeee." In those types of situations, you have to keep a clear head, have some practices skills in the subject matter, and make a split-second decision on the course of action you will take to counter the problem that has arisen.

In the current situation, gas pump prices are taking off like a rocket, now $4 per gallon, threatening to jump to $40-12 per gallon, or more — completely out of control. Meanwhile, sue to all the tax cuts and short-sightness of not changing our energy policy back in the ala nixon-Carter days, our horse is racing off with a compromised girth razor-cut in five places — when will it break?

If you sit there like a dummy a-waiting for your perfect A-B-C-D world to kick back in, you're likely to find yourself dragged beneath the horse and left face down in the dirt.

"Consumer spending is money spent on consumption items. Consumption items are items not designed to produce future cash flows. When you buy a stock you are not consuming. Why would anyone buy a stock if he didn't expect to make money on it? No one buys stock for the pure joy of buying stock. Therefore one can say "consumer spending is not simply a purchase." These are standard concepts in finance, economics and accounting. If you don't believe me, then do a little googling. You can make up your own terms, but then you'll have a hard time communicating." ——->

Zark, are you merely a J.D.? Or merely some type of avid reader of the Becker-Posner blog, or something? I have an M.B.A., as well as a J.D., numerous classes in accounting, finance, and econ. Here is what your fallback on "standard concepts in finance, economics and accounting" have brought Americans:

1. Enron;
2. WorldCom;
3. Tyco;
4. Bush Administration

The point I was making is you can cook the books all the live-long day, and claim you are doing so under approved methods, but a spade is a spade and cooked books are not accurate.

We are now paying the price for this fiasco with:

1. Mounting foreclosures in the housing sector;
2. Rising student loan defaults;
3. Rising credit card defaults;
4. Out of control inflation, particularly in the food and energy sector;
etc etc etc.

The currently approved "finance, economics and accounting concepts" need to be changed to ensure more accuracy, so Americans can get their financial house back in order. One significant improvement would be to get rid of the idea of "standardized" nonsense pegged to some "social norm" as we wish it to be, not as it really is. Here's a thought: if we REALLY counted the # of unemployed and underemployed Americans (not how fed regs or Bushies count it), how high do you think the REAL rate is?

Because THERE's your impoverished underclass foaming at the mouth over these ridiculous oil and gas pump prices.

By the way, I think your "peak oil" info is off-the-mark, or at least highly disputed. e.g. here
5.24.2008 2:31pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
corr:
"vry monet" very moment
" compacy Chrysler" = compact Chrysler
" $40-12 per gallon" = $10-12 per gallon
"sue" = due
5.24.2008 2:36pm
Rochesterian (mail):
ZARKOV SAID:
Nevertheless I don't want to change the economy of the world without a high level of confidence and we don't have that.

Z,
Here's a true story:
About 1932 a guy parks his beautiful Pierce-Arrow automobile near Grandpa's barber-shop with a sign "$25.00 takes it." Grandpa bought the Pierce-Arrow despite Grandma's urging he save the $25.00 for next winter's coal.

Within a year or two, Grandpa junked the PA b/c could not afford to keep/maintain it. Things were really out-of control economically speaking.

My point is, the WORLD economy is in a tail-spin in part because:
(1) the fuel crisis;
(2) the FEAR of G/W (it is irrelevant whether G/W is true or not, the fact is BILLIONS OF PEOPLE BELIEVE IT IS OCCURRING).

In sum, a major wealth re-distribution is already occurring at a run-away-crazy-horse pace. I am merely attempting to say "better hold on and make sure we head for open pasture instead of the barn; lets initiate Eisenhower-era 91% taxes on the fat-cats so we can fund a new transportation infrastructure before things get really out-of-control.
5.24.2008 3:37pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano:

Actually I'm not a fan of the Posner blog. Moreover I agree that accounting rules need changing, in particular with regard to derivatives. But we weren't discussing financial regulation reforms. We were discussing basic definitions, such as when a purchase of something is consumption or investment.

As to AGW it looks like you think we are facing some kind of instability in the near future in the sense that at some CO2 concentration level, a runaway increase in average global temperature will occur. On the other hand, if temperature is a smooth monotonic function of CO2 concentration then we can always stop. Your horse ride is an example of a random shock (something scares the horse) causing an instability-- the horse becomes chaotic and uncontrollable. How do you know the atmosphere is like a horse? No one really understands the the atmosphere well enough to make such predictions with any confidence. A good example is the relation between water vapor feedback and cloud formation. The GCMs don't do cloud physics because the the scale of the model is much larger than the scale at which clouds form. The planetary albedo is sensitive to the cloud cover so this is not a trivial effect.

You also seem to be pushing the "precautionary principle."

Where did I talk about "peak oil?" That's a controversial subject? I graph I presented was data and it shows that oil prices have been this high before.

I'm afraid your posts are becoming more incoherent, so I think you need to express yourself more carefully to get understood.
5.24.2008 3:58pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
Zark, "I'm afraid your posts are becoming more incoherent, so I think you need to express yourself more carefully to get understood." --->

Nice try. But the real score is my runaway horse scenario invoked sheer panic in your mind when you realized such scenario might indeed apply to the cascading C02 triggers cascading CH4 release -- even from the Oceans. Afraid the climate might get wee tad too HOT?

And YOU DON'T HAVE ANY PLAN TO DEAL WITH IT?

Worse and escalating your panic, as Rochesterian notes, "the fact is BILLIONS OF PEOPLE BELIEVE IT IS OCCURRING".

Wow. Hang on to your horse!
5.24.2008 4:55pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
Zark, "I'm afraid your posts are becoming more incoherent, so I think you need to express yourself more carefully to get understood." --->

Nice try. But the real score is my runaway horse scenario invoked sheer panic in your mind when you realized such scenario might indeed apply to the cascading C02 triggers cascading CH4 release -- even from the Oceans. Afraid the climate might get wee tad too HOT?

And YOU DON'T HAVE ANY PLAN TO DEAL WITH IT?

Worse and escalating your panic, as Rochesterian notes, "the fact is BILLIONS OF PEOPLE BELIEVE IT IS OCCURRING".

Wow. Hang on to your horse!
5.24.2008 4:55pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
My apologies for the uncontrollable nature of the double post. It was a runaway horse.
5.24.2008 4:57pm
Rochesterian (mail):
Facing the world-wide economic chaos related to Global Warming is just like riding a horse.

Sometimes the horse you are riding gets spooked, it does not matter whether the "spook" is real or not, the fact is, you have only 3 choices;
(1) let it throw you off (bad choce);
(2) hold on, let it run you to the barn (VERY bad choice);
(3) hold on, aim towards open pasture (safest choice).

This OPEC thing misses the point and probably is like holding on to the run-away horse, but heading towards a pasture with unknown holes, rocks and cliffs.

Best bet is to follow IKE's (a former cavalry soldier)formula. Hold on to your horses, raise taxes on rich folks to 91% in order to fund rebuild of the transportation infrastructure.
5.24.2008 5:19pm
Rochesterian (mail):
Correction.
This OPEC thing misses the point and is like holding on to a run-away horse, but heading towards the barn.
5.24.2008 5:30pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
Rochesterian, some very good points. And this entire OPEN availability of oil issue may well intersect with the G/W rising sea level issue, changing the geographical equation on what it takes to extract, produce, ship, refine, and deliver the oil to the American market. For example, eve if we immediately started drilling off-shore Florida, the Antarctic ice shelf falls into the drink, and next thing you know, most of Sourthern Florida goes under the sea level rise, and woopsy, suddenly the oil derricks are 300-400 miles out and the sea floor 70 additional miles under.
5.24.2008 6:31pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
corr:
"OPEN" = OPEC
"eve" = even
"Sourthern " = Southern
5.24.2008 6:34pm
zippypinhead:
This thread needs to be the guest of honor at a mercy killing (that means "deleted" for the overly-literal types who are flaming here).

The comments have gotten so far away from the original topic that those few of us who are still bothering to read all the back and forth flaming in the faint hope the thread may actually get back to the NOPEC/antitrust topic, are reduced to gales of disgusted laughter. Dave Kopel raised some interesting (albeit flawed both legally and logically, IMHO) points. Too bad they're no longer being debated.

I'm sure the partisans bickering back and forth here can find a better blog for their impassioned debate about the relationship between the ADA, Teddy Roosevelt's asthma, global warming, the evil Wal-Mart cabal, and Putin's horse-riding. Or if not, y'all ought to go away and start one. That' your First Amendment right.

Meanwhile, please read Professor Volokh's comment policy, below. You're waaaaay outside the policy. Please. No more.
5.24.2008 11:21pm
Rochesterian (mail):
zippypinhead,
I agree, please stay on point from now on.

This one's for you:

Rethinking our Sanity in the “Let’s Nail OPEC and Deny Global Warming Age."

In opening, I have taken it upon myself to replace words to the song “I’m Proud to Be an American Where at Least I know I’m Free” to "The Lunatics Run the Asylum in the U.S.A."

Face it, the belief of G/W has set the stage towards a general economic tail-spin. In sum, it is no longer relevant whether G/W is real.

The fact is, most people in the U.S.A believe G/W is real; and as such, all kinds of unpleasent things are occurring such as; out-of-control petrol prices, real estate collapse and a steeply falling dollar.

Think of the economic effects of G/W like a riding a horse that suddenly spooks. It does not matter what made the horse you are riding spook; the fact is, when your horse spooks, you are left with 3 choices;

(1) allow yourself to fall-off (bad choice, like buying a water-front house, motorhome or a new SUV);

(2) hold-on and let the horse run you off to the barn (VERY bad choice, like the antitrust suit against OPEC to stop the high gas prices);

(3) hold-on and try to head towards clear pasture (safe choice, like raising taxes on America's wealthiest to fund re-building the transportation infrastructure to include rails, subways, inter-urbans and lanes dedicated to light-electric cars (in sum, a transportation infrastructure tailored to an economy not hopelessly dependant on petrol).

The lunatics are the Article I, II, III riders who sit on the spooked horse galloping back towards the barn where they break their necks the moment their horse suddenly stops at the stall-door.

The lunatics lose site of the fact it is completely irrelevant whether G/W is real when assessing G/W’s economic impact on the economy. They also lose site of the fact the price of fuel has risen to the breaking point.

Lunatics want more G/W studies, antitrust suits against OPEC and lower taxes so they can continue to support all the garbage they have been acquiring since the post-Reagan tax cuts (mcMansions, motorhomes, motoryachts, 300HP sports cars and SUVs).

And the band of lunatics play on . . .
5.24.2008 11:46pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
zippypinhead
WROTE
"This thread needs to be the guest of honor at a mercy killing (that means "deleted" for the overly-literal types who are flaming here)"

Despite zippypinhead's self-serving attempt to use, then explain-away his chosen specific words "mercy killing" directed toward MKDP &Rochesterian in an effort to censor their speech, zippypinhead's m.o. demonstrates an obsessive hard-on for guns:

"Just did some quick playing around with school and park location maps in Northern Virginia -- part of a reasonably gun-friendly state that isn't overly densely populated when you get 50 or so miles outside D.C. and 20 miles outside a few mid-sized cities (Richmond, Norfolk, Roanoke).

Especially if you include National Parks, National Forests and Federal Military Reservations in the 5-mile category (a reasonable assumption for such legislation introduced by President Obama), there's literally no place for a gun store within about 150 airline miles of Fairfax, VA. Except perhaps IN a National Park, Forest or military base. Or in West Virginia -- oops, guess that won't work for Virginia residents, since nonresidents of a state can't purchase handguns over the counter per current Federal law. Although that would be the first good reason I've heard for undoing the 1863 secession of the northwestern third of Virginia during the Late Great Unpleasantness Between The States...
zippypinhead gun post here

The rules only say posters should "avoid" "radical departures" and that staying on-topic is "helpful."

(1.) Freezing OPEC racehorses under anti-trust until oil prices fall is ... on-topic.
(2.) Taxing OPEC/American Oil Co.s/wealthy Americans to subsidize disabled people who use their vehicles as accommodations until oil prices prices fall is ... not a "radical departure" from the common oil price topic.
(3.) G/W makes oil price reduction problematic, ... not a "radical departure" from the discussion of whether there is cause for the high oil prices vs. whether they are anti-competative.
(4.) evil Wal-Mart cabal fuels U.S.'s oil market competitor, driving up the prices of oil, ... on-topic to discussion whether there is cause for high oil prices vs. whether they are anti-competative.
(5.) If Putin has to ride a horse to get around when he visits the President due to Americans being priced out of the oil market, THAT might create a bigger diplomatic incident than initiating the suggested anti-trust action against OPEC, ... on-topic.

YOU zippypinhead, just don't like the politics of the Petranos. You must not have much of a life to be sitting around whining about Petrano viewpoints on a Saturday night.

One of us must have really flicked your bic.

However, "it is ... often true that one man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric." Cohen v. Calif., 403 U.S. 15 (1971) (Harlan, J).

Get a life, gun nutcase.
5.25.2008 12:46am
dont flame law professors:
"Get a life gun nutcase"

LOL - at you, not with you, MK. Please find a different blog on which to troll. There is no room here for your unwarranted personal attacks.

Many, many threads on the Volokh Conspiracy discuss Second Amendmant issues. Including the one dealing with facially Unconstitutional proposals supported by certain candidates for public office. IPOF, the comment you attacked was directly responsive to the opening request by the poster for geographic commentary applying one such proposal (the 5 mile gun sale ban).

Good bye.
5.25.2008 8:54am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"'Get a life gun nutcase'

LOL - at you, not with you, MK. Please find a different blog on which to troll. There is no room here for your unwarranted personal attacks." ----->

So, "dont flame law professors," are you suggesting a law prof is involved with the "AnnTM" cyberstalking, stalking across state lines, obstruction of ADA cases, girth-cut to cause me to fall from my horse, and malicious attack on my equine disability service horse? Oh, and ... my being shot at with a gun with a silencer while walking my horse that whizzed past me and took out a hay barn light? zippypinhead sought me out for a personal attack, not the other way around. I was just blogging my political opinion, that a lot of people here disagree with.

I'm not going anywhere. Get your own separate blog. I prefer to be integrated, not segregated.

I also intend to find out who my attackers are, and one thing is quite clear: one or more of them dwell on this blog.

Attacking a disabled person with autism and her equine disability service animal to the point of injury is a hate crime.

If you are not a participant in that, then exercise your First Amendment option, if you disagree with my viewpoint, avert your eyes and move on. If you are a law prof in charge of this blog, you have an obligation to stop the physical attacks on me directed into Florida that are arising from posters on this blog targeted to preventing my exercise of civil ADA rights.
5.25.2008 3:49pm
Rochesterian (mail):

Last November, '07, some wack-job with a gun and silencer shot-out a large out-door light at the HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL, stable where Mary was riding her equine disability service horse "Gulliver." Mary had the good sense to immediately run-off with "Gulliver" towards a non-illuminated area.

Mary's "literal" take on things is a natural defense against the crack-pot/"Harvard power-couple" who suggests she be the victim of a "mercy killing."

When you speak Second Amendment issues, I can state w/o hesitation neuro-psychological testing must be imposed on anyone who possesses a firearm of any kind whatsoever. I imagine some of you REALLY reject such an idea. You and the other loonies will have to DEAL WITH IT.
5.25.2008 3:56pm
Smokey:
This thread discusses the feasibility of suing OPEC/confiscating OPEC's assets. Folks who make those proposals are either nuts, or they do not understand human nature.

Note that at the beginning of the Iraq war, the entire Left of the political spectrum accused GWB of going to war with Saddam specifically because he wanted to steal their oil. "No blood for oil," remember?

Why is the Left so enamored with theft as a solution to problems? Theft is the Left's solution to everything. The oil underground in the Middle East belongs to those countries, not the U.S. See, it's not ours. Canada's oil, Venezuela's oil, and Mexico's oil isn't ours, either. They're a lot closer; why don't we just declare war on them and take their oil? Or sue them because we don't like the world oil price?

Common sense and a minimal understanding of human nature point to the likely outcome if we start stealing OPEC's savings: they will shut off the spigot, and tell the rest of the world why. And when they finally do consent to sell their oil -- for Euros -- the new price will recoup their losses.

When Carter was president, we could only get gas on even or odd days of the week, depending on our car's license number. We could only get 5 gallons at a time, after waiting for hours, sometimes half a day, in gas lines. That was after OPEC raised the price by 400% -- that's more than the recent rise in pump prices. But now both Rochestrian and MKDP [may be one and the same] advocate theft as their all-purpose solution:
1. Use the anti-trust laws against BOTH OPEN Nations AND our American oil company executives, etc., etc.

2. Raise taxes immediately back to the Ike rate of 91% on all wealthy Americans, etc., etc.

3. Seize all American oil company and exec's windfall profits, etc., etc.

4. Seize ...OPEC and ruling family assets, etc., etc.
How about taking this advice from the Marine Corps, instead: Suck it up! It's not our oil until we buy it. We've been through this before. Everything will eventually adjust. We don't have to turn into Stalinist thieves when things don't go our way. We're Americans; we can handle it. So quit sniveling, nobody likes a damn crybaby. The whole world is in the same boat.

And for those who think a gallon of gasoline is overpriced for what it does, try this experiment:

1) Turn off your car's engine
2) Put your car in neutral
3) Push it about twenty miles down the road
4) Explain to us why $4 is too much for a gallon of gas

Finally, that silly map predicting globaloney disaster that MKDP linked to brings to mind an ancient Chinese philosopher:

Those who have knowledge, don't predict. Those who predict, don't have knowledge.

~ Lao Tzu, 6th Century BC


Rather than predict the future based solely on always-inaccurate computer models, maybe we should just look at what's happened to global temperatures over the past half dozen years or so [I can link to a chart beginning in 1998, but it would look even worse for the globaloney Big Gov't/UN scaremongers].
5.25.2008 6:45pm
Rochesterian (mail):
Smokey,
I LOVE ANTITRUST!!!!!
I got the "Book Award" at STU in Antitrust and Unfair Trade Practice.
Yes, Let's get back on topic.

I think the 15 U.S.C.s against OPEC is as risky as letting the horse race you back to the barn. Sure, DOJ can file all kinds of asset freeze orders on day-one, but there are too many contingencies like WWIII, etc.

If OPEC asset freeze orders are the order of the day, I could orchestrate a doozy; nevertheless, it's a bad idea.

I believe the core problem is the utter break-down of society higher petrol proces are bringing.

If POTUS-44 responds with "A NEWER DEAL" speech on Inauguration Day, by requesting a massive transportation infrastructure program funded by fat-taxes on fat cats, we will quickly get off the rocks and back on course.

The people - working stiffs NOT in the Ivory Towers - need to hear fat-cats are going to be drawn and quartered. Fat taxes on fat-cats will provide incentive for the butcher, baker, cabinet maker and Indian Chief to ruff things out while we rush to build high-speed rail, subways, inter-urbans and lanes dedicated to those light-weight electric cars we all want to drive.

I don't advocate stealing to pay for our new transportation infrastructure. The real thieves have trickled-down" the U.S. treasury with their Reagan tax-cuts-for-the-rich to the point OPEC will be demanding Euros any moment in lieu of our tax-starved dollar.

PEACE
5.25.2008 8:06pm
Dennis Nicholls (mail):
Well shoot....

What's wrong with a non-judicial remedy?

We should, along with Canada, Australia, Brazil, and Argentina, form the Organization of FOOD Exporting Countries, i.e. "OFEC".

Anyone we don't approve of gets their food supply cut off.

You want to bomb Israel? We cut off your food supply and you all starve.

You want to raise petrol prices to $150 a barrel? We set the price of a bushel of wheat to a barrel of oil.
5.25.2008 8:56pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
Smokey, you hold such predicably typical right wingbats opinions, but what your tax cut nut parodies as "theft" is a civil rights Democrat's idea of reparations. Get over it. GWB's term is almost over.

"Canada's oil, Venezuela's oil, and Mexico's oil isn't ours, either. They're a lot closer; why don't we just declare war on them and take their oil" ---> Because the little "trial run" for that idea (Iraq) is a complete failure, waaay too costly, and an albatross dragging down our economy.

"Everything will eventually adjust." ----> Highly doubtful due to overpopulation of the Earth finally catching up to her limited resources, and the escalating deleterious effects on such by abrupt climate change due to G/W. You have a propensity to repeatedly parrot the rabbits who stayed behind and thereby doomed themselves in Watership Down.

"Explain to us why $4 is too much for a gallon of gas" ---> Because people at the bottom 80% of Americans can't afford to pay more than $2 per gallon, and it imposes a disparate impact in the form of a transportation barrier on disabled Americans who use their vehicles as essentially wheelchairs to travel/get about.

If ANYONE would spout "globalony" about G/W is would surely be one who lived in the 6th Century B.C. ICE AGE among the icicles and Neanderthals.

DN, OFEC sounds like an interesting idea. The problem is, when you mention members Argentina and Brazil, they are fast becoming part of the South American-China farm buying spree, thus real-part-in-interest being China. That might tilt things a little. Another shifting problem will occur from the changing food-growing areas as abrupt climate change due to G/W takes hold, meaning Russia might invoke itself to membership in OFEC, as well.

Ultimately, the addition of China and Russia might water down the effectiveness of OEFC against OPEC, donchathink? But, still, an interesting thought.
5.25.2008 10:44pm
Smokey:
Somebody please put MKDP on decaf.
5.25.2008 10:58pm
Barbara:
LOL Smokey! Good one.
5.25.2008 11:05pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
Smokey, "Somebody please put MKDP on decaf" ---> Are you complainaing about my work ethic? Don't all the other lawyers here work hard? My husband and I work hard long hours on our cases. You probably want to cut my chocolate, too.

It is amazing for such highly accomplished legal eagles, that when argued until they run out of answers, the rote A-B-C-D responses are always so predicatable:
1. you're unAmerican;
2. you're unWanted;
3. you're unNormal (bizarre, outlandish, unsound, caffinated, crazy, or some other slur on mental capacity);
4. you're unHappy;
5. you're unInformed.

I also don't think you liked the idea of OFEC to counter OPEC. By the way, in case you didn't see it, today is the 100 yr. anniversary of the discolvery of oil in the MiddleEast.

All it took was 100 years and $4 a gallon to bring America to her knees.
5.26.2008 4:36pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
corr:
"discolvery" = discovery
5.26.2008 4:38pm
Rochesterian (mail):
Smokey and Barbara, you wanna talk Antitrust jurisprudence relevant to this topic? bring it on Mr &Mrs. Holmes!

Don't waste my time if you can't craft a comment that discusses the "wherefore" clause(s) such a 15 U.S.C. COA againt OPEC would/should have.

PEACE
5.26.2008 7:56pm
DeezRightWingNutz:

genob:
Yeah. Stupid ..I'm not really sure how Congress thinks it will enforce the judgment.

Oh wait. War for oil.


So you're saying Microsoft should have gotten itself an army?
5.26.2008 11:57pm