Bill of Rights Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 383, September 3, 2006

"It's the end of the 8000-year Age of Authority."


One Dollar Gas
by L. Neil Smith

One Dollar Gas
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Copyright 2006 Rylla Cathryn Smith

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

Prepared for the Libertarian Party
Of Larimer County (Colorado)
Monday evening, August 21, 2006

Ladies and gentlemen, honesty compels me to admit, right at the beginning of this presentation, that the title "One Dollar Gas" is misleading.

The fact is, under the "system" of unfettered individual liberty that we all advocate, and to which many of us have dedicated their lives, the price of gasoline should be considerably lower than a dollar a gallon. The exciting news is that, if libertarians make this clear to voters who are increasingly outraged at the current price of gasoline, it could represent a new beginning for the Libertarian Party.

When people ask you how one dollar gas is possible, begin with the easy and familiar. There are special excise taxes on fuel that do not apply to other commodities: 18.4 cents per gallon federal, 40.4 cents per gallon here in the state of Colorado, an average of 2 cents per gallon at the local level, for an approximate total of 61 cents per gallon. The first, most obvious thing to be done about this mess is to remove these taxes from the price of gas. There should have been some sort of emergency trigger to accomplish this automatically a long time ago.

However to work properly, to get the price of gas down to a dollar a gallon—or less—you have to go further than the price at the pump. At the beginning of the Ed Clark campaign in 1979, his handlers floated a trial balloon involving the removal of all taxes from every stage of the production, processing, transportation, distribution, and sale of food, figuring that no one who claimed to be humanitarian—liberal or conservative—could say a word against it. Someone must have said something, because the finger-in-the-wind boys soon dropped the idea like a hot potato and that was the last that anyone heard of it.

Too bad, because it was a great idea.

A libertarian gas program must encompass the entire chain of fuel production, from the bottom of the well to the tip of the nozzle. A libertarian president could declare a state of emergency to accomplish that, and then "jawbone" other jurisdictions into following suit. If our enemies didn't care for that use of presidential emergency powers, they could pass legislation to revoke them and libertarians would win, anyway.

There are those who may accuse us of favoring the special interest of the gas companies. So I would go even further, removing all taxes from all the necessities of life, including food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and self-defense. Add de-taxing anything protected by the Bill of Rights, you have a splendid program for the LP or anybody else.

One of my earliest speeches to libertarian groups described an eight-fold multiplier that will manifest itself in the absence of government interference with the lives of individuals. On average, each of us pays out half of his or her income to one government or another. Remove those taxes, and it will immediately double your real wealth. You'll have twice as much money to spend, on anything you like.

And in terms of purchasing power, the relative price (not the absolute price—we'll get to that) of gasoline drops from $3.00 to $1.50.

Before we even get to special excise taxes, the people who provide the goods and services we rely on pay out half their income to the government, as well—only they don't pay it, of course, we do. Get rid of their taxes, and the price of goods and services—including gasoline—gets halved again, and, in terms of purchasing power, in terms of real wealth, we're now effectively paying a mere 75 cents a gallon.

But, as Ron Popeil always tells us, there's more! I had long estimated—and writers like Dixy Lee Ray later confirmed—that the cost of complying with government regulations doubles the price of goods and services. Without those regulations and those who force compliance with them, the price of everything we buy would get halved again.

And now gas is costing us 37 1/2 cents per gallon.

"Q" as the saying goes, "ED".

For those who won't listen to that argument, I have another.

Thermal depolymerization.

Thermal depolymerization is a relatively new method by which every possible kind of garbage, from the results of turkey processing, to mountains of cast-off tires, to old computer cabinets, can be turned into "artificial" gasoline at an ultimate cost of just eight dollars a barrel.

The only trouble with this technology is that it gores just about every ox presently blundering around our sorry political and economic landscape. The current fuel crisis isn't really so much about oil—there's plenty of that, and it will never run out, as you'll see in a moment—it's about what sources of oil we'll be allowed to use by our political and corporate masters, as opposed to new sources they desperately want to shut down as soon and as completely as possible. There's no profit for George Bush and his petropals in recycling old tires.

That's almost certainly why the first thermal depolymerization plant built to full-scale and located in Carthage, Missouri, right next to the Butterball Turkey plant was found to have 5000 defective welds in its maze of piping before it could begin operation. It's almost certainly why the Butterball plant suddenly raised the price of its garbage so that the cost of converting it would be prohibitive. And it's almost certainly why the governor of Missouri ordered the thermal depolymerization plant shut down, claiming it was "too smelly".

Ever smell a turkey processing plant?

Some friends of mine, online, attempting to estimate a per-gallon cost of gas from this source discovered that the per-barrel price of oil has never been as low as eight dollars—the estimated cost of oil made by the company performing the thermal depolymerization. It was at least double that amount when I started college, cigarettes cost 35 cents, and gas was 23 cents a gallon. Thermal depolymerization means that Americans can have all the fuel they want, and watch the landfills gradually disappear. And in an age where automotive exhaust consists of very little besides carbon dioxide (very good for the plant life) and water (very ditto), any environmentalist who fails to endorse this new technology enthusiastically is a bald-faced lying hypocrite.

But, if you can't get people to share in the hope of cheap energy from garbage, you can tell them about a fantastic discovery that was actually made several decades ago, one with demonstrated predictive qualities, but which is only now becoming a matter of general public knowledge: renewal from deep below, of oil reserves long thought to be depleted.

Understand, to begin with, that most petroleum—perhaps even all of it—has a non-biological origin. It's not made of dead dinosaurs, or of dead plants. It was made—it is still being made—by the same processes from which the Earth arose from dust and gas condensed by their mutual gravitic attraction. Water, methane, and a few other substances, subjected to high pressure and temperature, become raw petroleum.

The fact was predicted by astronomer Fred Hoyle in the 1950s, used by the Russians who went from oil importers to the third largest oil producer on the planet. It was explained and explored by Thomas Gold, author of The Hot, Deep Biosphere, and word was spread by George Crispin.

Crispin provides a typical example:

"Eugene Island is an underwater mountain located about 80 miles off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico. In 1973 oil was struck and off-shore platform Eugene 330 erected. The field began production at 15,000 barrels a day, then gradually fell off, as is normal, to 4,000 barrels a day in 1989, Then came the surprise; it reversed itself and increased production to 13,000 barrels a day. Probable reserves have been increased to 400 million barrels from 60 million. The field appears to be filling from below and the crude coming up today is from a geological age different from the original crude, which leads to the speculation that the world has limitless supplies of petroleum. . .

"Similar occurrences have been seen at other Gulf Of Mexico fields, at the Cook Inlet oil field, at oil fields in Uzbekistan, and it is possible this accounts for the longevity of the Saudi Arabian fields where few new finds have been made, yet reserves have doubled while the fields have been exploited mercilessly for 50 years."

None of this should be very surprising. There have been clues to the non-biological origin of petroleum scattered along the way for at least a couple of hundred years. The composition of the outer planets—the so-called "gas giants"—should have been a dead giveaway. Their atmospheres contain all the ingredients, and some astronomers have even speculated that perhaps it rains petroleum on Jupiter and Saturn.

Interstellar space is full of methane clouds and I, among others, have suggested the possibilty of life evolving there, without a planet.

Three quarters of the asteroids in the Asteroid Belt possess water and a substance called "kerogen"—the same black gold found in oil shale.

The price of gasoline at the pump has risen to a point that is not only absurd, it's obscene. People are starting to look longingly at little Eurotrashmobiles again, instead of the SUVs and trucks they truly love: it's going to be costly this winter to stay warm enough to live.

Make no mistake: this situation is the direct responsibility of that collection of criminals and cretins we refer to as the Bush Administration—although it's important to understand, and even more important to convey to the public, that the Democrats would have done just as badly as the Republicans if they'd only had the cojones. In a fairly strange inversion of the historic relationship between Franklin D. Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover, there is no offense against individual liberty and the Bill of Rights that George W. Bush has committed that Bill Clinton didn't attempt during his own misbegotten term.

The task before us now is to put both wings of the "Boot On Your Neck" party out of our misery. Gas prices could be the weapon to do it with.

Just tell them, "One Dollar Gas—Vote Libertarian".

But tell them loud and tell them often.

Four-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith has been called one of the world's foremost authorities on the ethics of self-defense. He is the author of 25 books, including The American Zone, Forge of the Elders, Pallas, The Probability Broach, Hope (with Aaron Zelman), and his collected articles and speeches, Lever Action, all of which may be purchased through his website "The Webley Page" at

Ceres, an exciting sequel to Neil's 1993 Ngu family novel Pallas was recently completed and is presently looking for a literary home.

A decensored, e-published version of Neil's 1984 novel, TOM PAINE MARU is available at: Neil is presently working on Ares, the middle volume of the epic Ngu Family Cycle, and on Roswell, Texas, with Rex F. "Baloo" May.

The stunning 185-page full-color graphic-novelized version of The Probability Broach, which features the art of Scott Bieser and was published by BigHead Press has recently won a Special Prometheus Award. It may be had through the publisher, at, or at


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