Iranian Hostage Crisis, Part 2?

Back in 1980, 52 U.S. diplomats were taken hostage in Iran. This incident, during the Iranian revolution, was a major blow to foreign policy and intelligence in the Middle East. After a botched extraction attempt (I personally know people who flew on that mission… disaster), the Algiers Accords were signed.

The incident was a major blow for the reelection campaign for Jimmy Carter. The very second after Regan was elected, the hostages were released. It also helped strengthen the Islamic revolution under Khomeni and showed vulnerabilities of one of the major superpowers at the time.

Is Iran doing the same thing with oil?

Persian Gulf
As of this writing, there were Iranian supertankers in the persioan gulf that hold about 5 months worth of extra crude oil. Why the stockpiling? Of course, you can use it as economic leverage against any attack on their coun

try, but what if the oil is being held hostage until a new president takes office?

The cost of oil, among many other reasons, have dropped the president’s rating to unprecedented levels. Bringing that sort of supply onto the market would create some serious turbulence in the commodities markets, possibly causing a correction in prices.
There are some hidden paralells that come to mind when comparing the two events. The major underlying theme may be that the Iranian government is trying to garner political and economic influence in the West, albeit indirectly.

A Solution to the Energy Crisis, Part 1

Phillip Greenspun comments on his blog the possibility of converting cars from gas to electric and the financial ramifications of an immediate changeover:

In practical terms, of course, it is a pipe dream. The sheer logistics of moving hundreds of millions of cars would not be something I would want to be tasked to; also, to have public policy aligned with this sort of movement is unrealistic.

A gradual move over from gas to electric is more realistic– and a move to higher MPG vehicles would be even better. The implementation of this idea in terms of public policy is the difficult part. We know we need to remove our energy dependence, but without the help of the federal government, the energy shift will not happen.

I have an idea to create economic incentives for the transportation industry when it comes to energy. Note: this is not my original idea.

Set a standard, say 30 MPG. Any car that gets better than 30 MPG, give it a 5,000 tax credit. Anything worse, give it a 5,000 tax debit. Formulas can be created to help stabilize the supply and demand of these cars. This creates a strong economic incentive for carmakers to put energy conservation at the top of their list. This solution is revenue neutral, which is a strong point for fiscal conservatives.

This idea will piss off the automakers, and I don’t care. They’ve had 30 years since the last great energy crisis to get their act together. We have (supposedly) the smartest engineers in the world, and there are several technically feasible solutions.

Another significant obstacle would be the problem of fleet vehicles and the industries that rely on inefficient vehicles. A conversion to natural gas would be a simple intermediate-term solution. In California, new fleet vehicles are starting to have the requirement of running on natural gas (a fuel we don’t have to import).

This is one step in the right direction.