Meu Caro João V.,.Obrigado pelo teu e-mail transcrevendo o artigo de Thomas L. Friedman
, que retranscrevo abaixo. .Thomas L. Friedman é um aplaudido colunista do New York Times, tendo-lhe sido atribuido o Pulitzer Prize por três vezes. TLF é autor, nomeadamente, de "The Lexus and the Olive Tree" (Prémio Pulitzer) e de o muito citado "The World is Flat".
Com tais credenciais o que pode dizer-te este teu amigo, a quem tiveste a bondade de mandar o artigo, para além de te agradecer a atenção? Pois só posso dizer-te que, faltando-me obviamente competência para me bater com tal guru, só posso alinhar algumas dúvidas que o assunto me suscita.
Se bem percebi a proposta de Thomas L. Friedman e o desencanto dele, o povo americano, em geral, está pouco atento aos acontecimentos e não percebe a teia onde o enredaram: Como o preço da gasolina nas bombas nos EUA ainda não está suficientemente elevado para induzir comportamentos de consumos mais moderados, e de inovações tecnológicas que permitam essa moderação, o aumento da procura tem determinado o aumento dos preços do crude, aumentos esses que estão a encher os bolsos já cheios de alguns inimigos dos EUA. Se, como advoga Thomas L. Friedman fosse introduzido um imposto (1 dólar ou mais por galão) o preço da gasolina nas bombas subiria nessa mesma medida, provocando a queda dos consumos de gasolina nos EUA e, consequentemente, a queda dos preços do crude nos mercados internacionais.
Inquestionavelmente, o preço da gasolina nos EUA é muito mais baixo que na Europa e os consumos médios das viaturas são mais elevados. Pode concluir-se daqui que um agravamento fiscal levaria os norte-americanos a alterar os seus comportamentos consumistas de combustíveis? Se esta tese for válida, os consumos estarão já a baixar pela via do aumento dos preços do crude, não?
Por outro lado Thomas L. Friedman não refere, uma única vez sequer, no seu texto a influência do crescimento da procura de hidrocarbonetos por parte dos países asiáticos com destaque para a China e Índia.
Porque, para além das contingências políticas e naturais que influenciam a volatilidade dos mercados do crude, são as alterações estruturais na relação oferta/procura que comandam os preços nos contratos a prazo, também com repercussões imediatas nos mercados "spot".
No mínimo, este esquecimento da China e da Índia, parece-me suspeito. Suspeito de que os colunistas se não são polémicos não serão colunistas por muito tempo. E a polémica, já se sabe, nem sempre se socorre do maior rigor.
Que te parece?
November 14, 2007
Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda
By Thomas L. Friedman.
Two dates - two numbers. Read them and weep for what could have, and
should have, been. On Sept. 11, 2001, the OPEC basket oil price was
$25.50 a barrel. On Nov. 13, 2007, the OPEC basket price was around $90
In the wake of 9/11, some of us pleaded for a "patriot tax" on gasoline
of $1 or more a gallon to diminish the transfers of wealth we were
making to the very countries who were indirectly financing the
ideologies of intolerance that were killing Americans and in order to
spur innovation in energy efficiency by U.S. manufacturers.
But no, George Bush and Dick Cheney had a better idea. And the Democrats
went along for the ride. They were all going to let the market work and
not let our government shape that market - like OPEC does.
You'd think that one person, just one, running for Congress or the
Senate would take a flier and say: "Oh, what the heck. I'm going to lose
anyway. Why not tell the truth? I'll support a gasoline tax."
Not one. Everyone just runs away from the "T-word" and watches our
wealth run away to Russia, Venezuela and Iran.
I can't believe that someone could not win the following debate:
REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE: "My Democratic opponent, true to form, wants to
raise your taxes. Yes, now he wants to raise your taxes at the gasoline
pump by $1 a gallon. Another tax-and-spend liberal who wants to get into
DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE: "Yes, my opponent is right. I do favor a gasoline
tax phased in over 12 months. But let's get one thing straight: My
opponent and I are both for a tax. I just prefer that my taxes go to the
U.S. Treasury, and he's ready to see his go to the Russian, Venezuelan,
Saudi and Iranian treasuries. His tax finances people who hate us. Mine
would offset some of our payroll taxes, pay down our deficit, strengthen
our dollar, stimulate energy efficiency and shore up Social Security.
It's called win-win-win-
win-win for America. My opponent's strategy is sit back, let the market
work and watch America lose-lose-lose-lose-lose." If you can't win that
debate, you don't belong in politics.
"Think about it," says Phil Verleger, an energy economist. "We could
have replaced the current payroll tax with a gasoline tax. Middle-class
consumers would have seen increased take-home pay of between six and
nine percent, even though they would have had to pay more at the pump. A
stronger foundation for future economic growth would have been laid by
keeping more oil revenue home, and we might not now be facing a recession."
As a higher gas tax discouraged oil consumption, the Harvard University
economist and former Bush adviser N. Gregory Mankiw has argued: "the
price of oil would fall in world markets. As a result, the price of gas
to [ U.S.] consumers would rise by less than the increase in the tax.
Some of the tax would in effect be paid by Saudi Arabia and Venezuela."
But U.S. consumers would have known that, with a higher gasoline tax
locked in for good, pump prices would never be going back to the old
days, adds Mr. Verleger, so they would have a much stronger incentive to
switch to more fuel-efficient vehicles and Detroit would have had to
make more hybrids to survive. This would have put Detroit five years
ahead of where it is now. "It's called the America wins program," said
Mr. Verleger, "instead of the petro-states win program."
We simply cannot go on being as dumb as we wanna be. If you hate the war
in Iraq, then you want a gasoline tax so you can argue that we can pull
out of there without remaining dependent on an even more unstable
region. If you want to see us negotiate with Iran, not bomb it, you want
a gasoline tax that will give us some real leverage by helping to reduce
the income of the ayatollahs.
If you're a conservative and you believed that the Iraq war was
necessary to drive reform in the Middle East, but the war has failed to
do that and we need "Plan B" for the same objective, you want a gasoline
tax that will reduce the flow of wealth to petrolist leaders who will
never change if all they have to do is drill well holes rather than
educate and empower their people.
If you want to see America thrive by becoming the most energy productive
economy in the world - a title that now belongs to Japan, which doesn't
have a drop of oil in its soil - you want a gasoline tax, which will
only spur U.S. innovation in energy efficiency.
President Bush squandered a historic opportunity to put America on a
radically different energy course after 9/11. But considering how few
Democrats or Republicans are ready to tell the people the truth on this
issue, maybe we have the president we deserve. I refuse to believe that,
but I'm starting to doubt myself.