Beggars on the Boulevard of Oil Dreams

Published on
the Bangor Daily News (Maine)

Beggars on the Boulevard of Oil Dreams

We live in a black-and-white world. We'd like to believe that we have all these shades of gray; subtle nuances that lend shadow and light to our existence, but we don't. For citizens of the United States, something's right or wrong, in or out, with us or against us. And because of those black-and-white terms by which we live, we have folks killing in our name, dying in our war and begging on our behalf.

Certainly you heard about the begging. Our president went to Saudi Arabia to beseech the royal family to take pity on us and lower our fuel prices. The New York Times reported that President Bush asked King Abdullah to "consider the strain the high cost of oil was having on the American economy."

Funny he didn't beg his buddies at Exxon Mobil to lighten our burden.

Why should Saudi Arabia lose money? The black-and-white reality of our financial relationship works beautifully for them. We're addicted to oil and they've got plenty. And our preoccupation with professing to know right from wrong, black from white is of no consequence to them. After all, they sat idly by while we invaded one of their sovereign neighbors claiming it was about security and not about oil and the whole time, I believe, the Saudis knew better. I bet that they knew at least as much as Scott McClellan did.

Our relationship with Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab world is about as healthy as the friendship between the wolf and the three little pigs. Either we'll we blow their Middle East house down and gobble up their resources, or they'll stoke the boiling kettle and we'll greedily fall down the chimney. Time will tell.

Coincidentally, Exxon Mobil doesn't care about our economy, either. Our alleged political allies don't care about us and neither do our bottom line-motivated supposed corporate partners.

We're surrounded by wolves and we're a giant pig roast.

Why is everyone so surprised that we're so vulnerable? We don't have a legal, viable, affordable substitute for oil. And with record high profit margins, the wolves can make as much money as they've ever made even as we feebly attempt to reduce our consumption.

In fact, record profit margins coupled with fewer refining and transportation costs - because of our diminished demand - make these predators as wealthy as or wealthier than they were last year.

But still, we squeal in pain to these big bad wolves.

Here's what that groveling to the Saudis might've sounded like: "Hey King Abdullah, we know that your country has many practices that our country calls human rights violations. Beheadings and behandings and, from time to time, those cross-mutilations where you take a hand and a foot just to make sure you got your point across. You punish rape victims and gouge people's eyes out. Check out Amnesty International and the records kept by our Library of Congress, and you can see where we learn this stuff. But hey, before you cane that guy, could you chat with us for a few minutes about lowering your price on oil - those high prices are really hurting us. Be humane about this and save us a few bucks at the pump."

I've got an idea. If we're going to prostrate ourselves before someone who flouts our federal laws, let's quit sucking up to Saudi Arabia and suck up to Vermont instead.

No, Vermont doesn't have public beheadings but they're about to get their legs cut out from underneath them by the federal government. See this week those rascals in the Vermont legislature legalized the farming of industrial hemp.

According to the Canadian think tank Global Research, hemp is "an alternative to petroleum. Hemp grows like mad from border to border in America; so shortages are unlikely. And, unlike petrol, unless we run out of soil, hemp is renewable."

But it's federally prohibited and our farmers, our economy and our environment pay for our government's preposterous criminalization of this plant.

The black-and-white truth is because of this folly we are victimized by the greed of Exxon Mobil while we whimper to the Saudis.

Pat LaMarche

Pat LaMarche is host of the The Pulse Morning Show, which broadcasts in Maine and is available on the web at She is the author of "Left Out In America: The State of Homelessness in the United States." She was the Green Party's vice-presidential candidate in the 2004 U.S. presidential election, with David Cobb as its presidential candidate. Pat may be reached at

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