High oil prices are bad for the world, because the oil-producing nations stay bad. Low oil prices are good for the world, because the oil-producing nations get better.
Thomas Friedman's column in the New York Times today lays out the case here.
This is the best part:
When did the Soviet Union collapse? When did reform take off in Iran? When did the Oslo peace process begin? When did economic reform become a hot topic in the Arab world? In the late 1980's and early 1990's. And what was also happening then? Oil prices were collapsing.
In November 1985, oil was $30 a barrel, recalled the noted oil economist Philip Verleger. By July of 1986, oil had fallen to $10 a barrel, and it did not climb back to $20 until April 1989. "Everyone thinks Ronald Reagan brought down the Soviets," said Mr. Verleger. "That is wrong. It was the collapse of their oil rents." It's no accident that the 1990's was the decade of falling oil prices and falling walls.
If President Bush made energy independence his moon shot, he would dry up revenue for terrorism; force Iran,
Or, Mr. Bush can ignore this challenge and spend the next four years in an utterly futile effort to persuade Russia to be restrained, Saudi Arabia to be moderate, Iran to be cautious and Europe to be nice.----
He's right on the effect of oil, but when Friedman moves from policy to politics, he misses the boat again.
He's asking W to launch an alternative energy program. That's delusional. If we're going to bring down the price of oil, Red America isn't going to do it -- Blue America is going to have to lead. And that means state and local gas taxes to finance alternative energy, like ethanol or biodiesel.