Thanks to Jay Nordlinger for his “43 and His Theme: A Visit with George W. Bush” (March 14). It’s a shame that Bush didn’t do more, rhetorically, to defend himself against political assault during his presidency. Nordlinger’s interview affirms W.’s intelligence, his serious approach to life-and-death issues, and his human decency. Shame on my lefty (and otherwise intelligent) friends for their simplistic and simple-minded attacks.
Cheap Oil Foiled
While Mr. Hassett’s discussion was measured and succinct (“Don’t Stop Worrying about Oil,” February 29), I do believe he may have missed the mark. Even though the production of oil in this country has not changed appreciably as a percentage of total world output, the use of oil here has declined, and the rate of production and the existence of proven reserves now make us able to supply all of our needs should the price of crude rise to the level at which it would be profitable to frack and mine tar sands. Even if OPEC were to cease to produce oil, we could supply our own needs, with only a short period of time required to restart our domestic industry, which would already be retooling as the price of crude rose. With Canada as a partner (unless our president has queered that deal as well), we could be exporting to the rest of the world over and above our domestic needs. As the flow and the supply worldwide fell, the price would rise again, returning to the level at which extracting oil in this country would again be profitable. Consumers would be forced to return to the days of $2.50 gasoline (I live in an oil state and our price is always low), a lot of people would complain, and the needs of the oil users in this country would be uninterrupted, while, once again, the rest of the world descended into chaos.
Jonathan C. Jobe
Kevin A. Hassett responds: Mr. Jobe raises a clever point that, sadly, collapses on inspection. Even if the U.S. is self-sufficient in oil production, this does not insulate us from the impact of fluctuations in world prices. If the world price is higher than the U.S. price, domestic producers will sell to foreigners instead of to us. Perhaps we could keep the domestic price higher by introducing trade barriers, but the economic case against such barriers would, like our borders in Mr. Jobe’s example, be open and shut.
It is true that my piece did not envision a world without trade. Perhaps, if Donald Trump is serious about starting a trade war, that is a bigger omission than anyone could have foreseen.