About two hours ago, while on the subway, I saw an ad for an oil heater called Intelligent Warmth that praised its product in several different ways. One of them, “more and more of our energy is grown at home” (rough quote), was conspicuous if only for its nationalist assumption of what “home” means.
The energy in question is not grown in New York. It’s probably biofuel grown in the American corn belt, heavily subsidized by the government because its energy return on energy investment ratio is lower than 1. For some reason, New Yorkers are supposed to believe that sending their tax money to Iowans who are already grossly overrepresented in politics is great, but sending a fraction of that money to impoverished Brazilians is evil.
The most frustrating argument for reducing dependence on Saudi oil is “energy independence is a national security issue.” Together with “food self-sufficiency is a national security issue,” it’s about the most irrationally nationalistic argument in politics that you don’t need to be a religious nut to believe.
The havoc that globalization has wreaked on some countries can obscure the fact that overall, autarky is a lot more conducive to war than free trade. Democracies generally don’t fight one another. Countries that freely trade with one another, regardless of their political system, fight one another even less. Warmongering leaders seek autarky for a reason.
I know that being self-sufficient is good for the USA as a country. But what’s good for the national dick size isn’t necessarily good for the people or for the world. Subsidies to inefficient industries are bad for everyone but the select few privileged people who get them. The consequences to the world at large are even more disastrous; the threat of an oil embargo is one of the reasons the US can’t quite bomb every non-nuclear third-world country.
Besides, the idea that faraway Americans are more important than faraway non-Americans makes about as much sense as the average scene in Alice in Wonderland. Americans bitch about foreign aid, which amounts to 0.11% of the USA’s GDP. The bitching tends to be strongest in states that routinely receive much more than that from the federal government, courtesy of the high-income state taxpayer. But nationalism dictates that New Jersey has a moral obligation to subsidize Montana while the country as a whole is considered charitable when it sends the third world peanuts.