Paying more at the pump for what?
by Kelvin Wade
As I pulled up to the pump, I could hear the dead Presidents in my wallet start screaming in unison. There’s just no way the number on a gas pump should start with a 4. I slowly stepped out of the car and looked at the other folks fueling their vehicles. They seemed shell-shocked. They seemed like they were in a daze as they pumped dollar after dollar into their cars.
$4.19 a gallon. Are you kidding me?
Some folks are angry with the President. Please. If Presidents controlled gas prices then they would be super low during election years. Of course the conspiracy theorists will say that President Obama is inflating gas prices now and he will lower them right before the election. Yeah and they filmed the moon landing at Area 51.
It’s true we’ve gone decades without a serious energy plan to move us off fossil fuels. The country that launched the Manhattan Project, which committed itself to putting a man on the moon in a 10-year time span hasn’t made a bold challenge to lead the world in 21st century energy technology. Here we are in 2012, still slaves to the internal combustion engine.
Then there’s the Drill, Baby, Drill crowd. Republicans are saying if only President Obama had supported more drilling and approved the Keystone XL pipeline gas prices would be lower. The U.S. consumes 25 percent of the world’s oil and we have less than 3 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves. If we open up drilling in the Arctic Refuge, we’d increase our reserves by .03 percent according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Plus the oil wouldn’t arrive at refineries for at least seven years.
How does that help you at the pump now?
What about taxes on gas? Federal tax on gas is 18.4 cents per gallon. Additional state taxes can be even higher. Couldn’t we just cut those taxes to avoid some pain at the pump? Cutting those taxes would just put us even more in the red as far as the state and federal budgets go.
When gas prices skyrocketed in 2008 we were told China and India and other emerging markets were driving the increase due to increased demand. With more buyers demanding the product, the price was bound to increase.
Now with sanctions against Iran, and Iran cutting off oil to Britain, France and Greece, the markets have been disturbed.
Perhaps it’s the big oil companies like Exxon and Shell who posted record profits last year who are screwing us with high gas prices. Oops! I’m not supposed to talk about the “job creators” or they’ll withhold jobs from us.
The truth is, there’s a glut of oil on the market today. Americans are using less oil while at the same time vehicle fuel economy is at an all time high. Despite all of that, we’re paying more at the pump. The law of supply and demand no longer applies in our oil consumption.
And that should tell us that oil prices are being kept artificially high. So where is all of this extra money we’re paying at the pump going? Senator Barry Sanders says into the pockets of Wall Street speculators who are doing to the oil futures markets what they did to the housing market.
So no, while at the gas station I don’t see the angry Terminator-type looks on the faces of people filling their cars like I saw in the spring and summer of 2008. I see the pain and the worry that life as usual is just getting too difficult. Just when folks think they’re climbing out of the hole, higher gas prices knock them down again.
As I got back in my car, $65 lighter, I couldn’t help but think that once again my pocket was being picked by shadowy fat cats. And all this extra money I’m spending isn’t going to alleviate our debt, create jobs or finance alternative fuel sources.
Our European counterparts who are paying double what we pay don’t understand our whining. But at least their expensive heavily taxed gas is helping finance their social services. With every squeeze of the nozzle I think I’m just financing someone’s yacht.