Thanks to the patriotic sacrifice of the citizens of Oklahoma who have agreed, for the sake of prolonging for another dozen years or so our nation’s post-Cold War hegemony, to allow the Sooner State to replace California as the country’s prime earthquake zone, the United States has become a petroleum exporter instead of an importer. Thanks to fracking and other expensive and noxious oil mining methods, we have been able to reduce the price of a barrel of oil to the point where wholesale oil is cheaper than wholesale bottled water.* Furthermore, through an astute diplomatic strategy – assuring the Saudis that we would not make a fuss over their rapid slide into totalitarianism if they would not reduce their oil output – we have guaranteed that the Russian economy would continue to suffer for the foreseeable future.
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*Wholesale oil: $30 per barrel (42 gallons). Price per gallon: 71 cents. Wholesale bottled water: $290 for 1,890 16.9 oz. bottles (250 gallons). Price per gallon: 86 cents.
Whammy Two – Caviar
During the 19th Century, Atlantic sturgeon on the east coast and white sturgeon on the west coast of North America were discovered to have a roe quality comparable to that from Russian sturgeons. There was so much American caviar being produced in North America at that time that bars would serve the salty delicacy to encourage more beer drinking, as peanuts are served today. At the beginning of the 20th Century there was more caviar going to Europe from North America than from Russia.
With the usual enthusiasm of American capitalists, the caviar entrepreneurs assumed that if any goose could lay golden eggs it naturally also must know the secret of immortality, and the sturgeon almost went the way of the carrier pigeon. Then, as the Cold War wound down, with a foresight unusual in a large bureaucracy, Washington’s technocrats placed the Atlantic sturgeon on the endangered species list. That clever policy is now paying off. The valuable fish is making a startling comeback in American waters.
Soon, American caviar production will reach the peaks it attained in the 19th Century and a pound of caviar once again will be cheaper than a pound of salted peanuts.
Whammy Three -- Cigars
Putin might have been able to stave off the threat of economic collapse brought on by the double whammy of oil and caviar by calling in fifty years of favors and browbeating Cuba into assigning Russia a monopoly on Cuban cigars.
Someday, historians may discover the name of the heroic American operative – whether from the State Department, the CIA or the American Chamber of Commerce – who forestalled that last ditch Russian effort by convincing Pope Francis that in his new exalted position it would be seemly to espouse a more ecumenical economic policy than that offered by liberation theology and, furthermore, that the image of the Church, which had been tarnished by scandals of concupiscence and greed, would be improved if the first manifestation of this papal transformation were the shepherding of the Castro brothers away from a moribund ideology, and persuading them to become vassals of the nearby great power whose puissance was fading more slowly than was that of the distant great power, to whom they had been professing their fealty, with diminishing returns, over the last fifty years.