Monday, May 05, 2008

Hillary keeps on bringing the stupid. Her latest:

"We're going to go right at OPEC," Clinton said, on a last-minute campaign swing ahead of Tuesday's Indiana and North Carolina primary clashes against her Democratic rival Barack Obama.

"They can no longer be a cartel, a monopoly that get together once every couple of months in some conference room in some plush place in the world," Clinton said, sparking cheers in a crowded fire station.

So, what's going to stop them?

Clinton has said she would amend US anti-trust law to allow the US to confront OPEC...

The Yale law school grad is proposing to somehow make US antitrust law binding on foreign governments. A bold stroke --- but so was the Charge of the Light Brigade. Does she, perhaps, have a backup plan?

... and also promised to tackle the group through the World Trade Organisation, if she is elected president.

So, let's consider. What the WTO can do, if one member accuses another of unfair trade practices, is authorize trade sanctions. The usual thing is that the victim (apparently, us) gets to raise tariffs on the miscreant nation's products. But since our only major import from most of these countries is oil, that would amount to raising the tax on gas (and other petroleum by-products), which she just proposed to lower. So, perhaps she's got another idea?

Well, an alternative sort of trade sanction might be to slap some kind of export duty on whatever it is that these countries buy from us. Which would either punish these countries, if they kept on buying from us --- or punish our exporters, as the OPEC members went on to buy whatever-it-is from somebody else. Like, say, France, whose president has been going on international trips lately with an entourage of CEOs hunting up business, including a much-publicized trip a few months back to the oil patch.

She's got a gun with a laser sight, and two of her toes are already gone. Stop her, before she shoots again!

More: Hillary supporter Sen. Robert Menendez on MSNBC: "Thank god that we don't have economists making, necessarily, public policy...". Gee, I wonder what Ben Bernanke would have to say about that?

By the way, OPEC countries are only producing 40% of the world's oil at this point, and many of them, including the biggie, Saudi Arabia, don't seem to have a whole lot of spare capacity. And the non-OPEC 60% are widely assumed to be pumping flat out. Economists, with their confusing, elitist, chardonnay-sipping discourse about "supply" and "demand", might suggest that there isn't a whole lot anyone can do under these circumstances to lower the price. But Hillary knows better. She learned the value of courage and firm resolve facing down those snipers in Tuzla...


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