At current oil prices, this country [the United States] sends overseas $460 billion per year to finance the daily buying of 12 million barrels of imported oil. This amount of money is about the size of our defense budget and three times the size of the ''economic stimulus'' package recently passed by Congress. But the real economic impact of oil dependence is hidden to most Americans. Energy economist Milton Copulos (who passed away this month) calculated last year that the grand total of all external costs associated with foreign oil dependence -- including the cost of oil-related defense expenditures, amortized cost of supply disruptions, and lost economic activity and tax revenues -- stands at $825 billion per year.
Luft goes on to warn:
If oil prices climb to $200, as President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela recently warned, this wealth would double again. While the value of the dollar and the U.S. economy is shrinking, OPEC's monumental wealth enables its countries unprecedented buying power. As an illustration, at current oil prices it would take OPEC just six days to buy GM and three years to buy a 20 percent voting block in every S&P 500 company. It is hard to see how such buying power amassed by oil producers would not upset the West's economic and political sovereignty. At the current rate of investment, foreign governments are likely to be increasingly willing to translate their wealth into power, dictating business practices, vetoing deals, appointing officers sympathetic to their governments, dismissing those who are critical of them and imposing Islamic laws on Western corporations.