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Glenn Beck: U.S. is a suicidal superpower

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  • Glenn Beck: Americans don't control own destiny anymore; foreigners do
  • Beck: We're paying the price for policies that cater to everyone but benefit no one
  • U.S. food and fuel policies appear absurd and arrogant, Beck says
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By Glenn Beck
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Editor's note: "Glenn Beck" is on CNN Headline News nightly at 7 and 9 ET.

NEW YORK (CNN) -- If you're a poor sap who needs to eat or drive in the near future, then you might want to consider taking out a second mortgage (assuming you could even get one) pretty soon.

Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck asks what country that cares about its future would do what the U.S. has to its food and fuel supply.

Food and gas prices have been all over the news lately, and even a big dumb rodeo clown like me can see that it's all connected. Our policies, which try to cater to everyone from oil company executives to environmentalists, end up benefiting no one -- and now we're all paying the price.

I know that real economists probably will say that the causes of these skyrocketing prices are extremely complicated to understand, but the truth is that it's actually pretty simple: We've done this to ourselves.

I don't know if it's because of our arrogance, our stupidity or maybe both, but I believe that history may one day judge America as the most suicidal superpower of all time. After all, what country that cares about its future would do what America has done to its supply of food and fuel, two of the most critical things that any civilization needs to survive?

For example, look at the way we treat our food supply. We've spent decades giving billions of dollars in government subsidies with incentives for the wrong things, we've mandated that huge areas of farmland stay open for "conservation" and we're using grains that could feed tens of millions of people to make a crappy biofuel that you can't even buy anywhere.

That's not arrogance?

Our fuel policy has been even more absurd. We're completely dependent on foreign countries, many of whom hate us, to keep our trucks moving, our planes flying and our homes warm.

That's not arrogance and suicidal stupidity?

Take a look at the top five countries we currently rely on for oil imports. You tell me if these are the five you would choose if you were creating your own world superpower from scratch: Canada, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Nigeria, Venezuela.

Aside from Canada, that's not exactly a "Who's Who" list of stable, America-loving countries.

And if you think I cut off the list at five because the next five are so friendly, think again. Here's the next five: Iraq, Angola, Kuwait, Colombia, Ecuador.

The point is that we don't control our own destiny, foreigners do. Despite bipartisan hatred for high oil prices, they've gone up 49 percent since 2006. If we could've done something, anything, to stop that, we would have. But the sad fact is that we can't.

That's why, instead of offering real solutions, most politicians offer something else: blame. Democrats blame Republicans, Republicans blame Democrats, and nothing ever gets solved. President Bush provided a good example of that last week when he was asked about high oil and gas prices.

"We've had an energy policy that neglected hydrocarbons in the United States for a long period of time, and now we're paying the price. We should have been exploring for oil and gas in ANWR, for example," he said. "But, no ... our Congress kept preventing us from opening up new areas to explore in environmentally friendly ways. And now we're becoming, as a result, more and more dependent on foreign sources of oil."

Personally, I think the president is right; we should be drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In fact, we should've been drilling there a decade ago, but that's not the point anymore. Opening ANWR now would be like stopping at the bathroom on your way to the electric chair; you're only delaying the inevitable.

Should we still do it? Yes. Frankly, we need all the time we can buy ourselves to find a long-term solution; our nation's very survival is at stake. But ANWR is not the answer, it's a Band-Aid, and I worry that our shortsighted politicians would use it as an excuse not to look for viable replacements for oil, which is what we really need.

Fortunately, there is some good news in all of this: Oil prices this high mean that a lot of formerly dismissed alternatives will finally make good economic sense.

For example, back in 1980, Congress passed the Energy Security Act, which led to the creation of something called the Synthetic Fuels Corp. (SFC). Lawmakers provided SFC with up to $88 billion in loans and incentives to get started (the equivalent of about $230 billion in today's dollars) with the goal of creating two million barrels a day of synthetic oil within seven years.

So why aren't you putting SFC oil into your SUV right now? Well, it turns out that members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries didn't appreciate the competition so they started bringing down the price of oil. From 1980, when SFC launched, to 1986, when it was shut down, oil went from more than $39 a barrel to less than $8 a barrel. Suddenly, synthetic oil didn't seem so important anymore.

In announcing the SFC's closure, then-Energy Secretary John Herrington said that oil prices had simply dropped too low to make it a viable business.

But the good news is that those economics don't work anymore. The state of Montana, which is leading the synthetic fuel charge, says we can now make it for somewhere around $55 a barrel. That's more than a 50 percent discount from what it costs to buy the real stuff.

It's the opportunity of a lifetime, a chance to use OPEC's price gouging and monopoly against it.

So let me be the big, dumb rodeo clown once again and ask the obvious question: Why aren't we doing it?

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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