Saturday, February 18, 2006

Professor Dilbert

In eight panels this morning, Dilbert dishes out more lessons on economics and geopolitics than you are likely to get in 100 op-eds.

I couldn't find the link, so you will just have to imagine the artwork associated with this discussion between Dilbert and Dogbert:

Dilbert: I'm thinking about buying a more fuel efficient car.

Dogbert: Why?

Dilbert: It's my patriotic duty to reduce this countr's dependence on foreign sources of oil.

Dogbert: Why?

Dilbert: Because then the countries that hate us will have less money to fund terrorists.

Dogbert: Actually, developing countries would buy the oil you saved, thus adequately funding those same terrorists.

Dilbert: At leaste I wouldn't be funding them myself.

Dogbert: Oil is a fungible commodity, the capitalist system virtually guarantees that you will end up buying the lowest cost oil from sources unknown to you.

Dilbert: Well, maybe. But I want to my car to make a statement.

Dogbert: And that statement would be "Hey, everyone, I don't understand what fungible means."

Who would have thought that much wisdom could be tied up in a comic strip.


Blogger Oroborous said...

While everything said in the strip is true, since America currently uses SO MUCH oil, if the U.S. didn't import any the global price of oil would fall back to $ 10/bbl - the increased demand from developing nations wouldn't pick up the slack for quite some time.

February 19, 2006 12:32 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


What would have to happen to the US economy to make imports = 0?

Even if everyone suddenly converted to 50 mpg cars, that still wouldn't happen.

Also, terrorist operations don't take tons of money. 9/11 was brought in for something like several hundred thousand dollars. Even $10/bbl oil would provide adequate supply to terrorists.

Then there is the knock-on effects.

Let's say we did stop importing all oil, and the price went to $10.

That would immediately impoversh all oil-dependent exporting countries.

Guess on whom the people of those countries would blame their impovershment?

February 19, 2006 4:06 PM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

While I agree that there is no simple and neat solution, I'm willing to try impoverishing oil-exporting nations.

At the very least, it would take care of Iran's nuclear ambitions.

While the 9/11 operation, specifically, took only a few hundred thousand dollars, those teams were at the far end of a chain of recruiting, organization, and support that took several million dollars and years to complete.

Logistics, not tactics, right ?

Further, look at what the terrorists have accomplished, or failed to do, since 9/11, with $ 50 - $ 70 oil.
Cutting their available resources in half, or even less, could lead to al Qaeda carrying out attacks exclusively in the Muslim world, which would only be to our benefit.

February 19, 2006 11:35 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Fungibility is a knife that cuts two ways here.

Withdrawing money from Hamas in Palestine does not make a lot of difference if you are giving that much money, and more, to Iran, which passes it on to Hamas.

It's not about money, anyway.

February 22, 2006 10:21 AM  

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