Thursday, April 27, 2006

Color Me Shocked.

On my way home from work yesterday I filled up my Honda Accord in Mid-Wilshire. It was $3.179 a gallon for regular. When I arrived in Pasadena, the first station off the freeway was at $3.299. The station closer to my home was at $3.279. I make a pretty good salary, but I also drive a lot in my work, often up to 500 miles per week. Even with a relatively fuel efficient car, driving has become a major expense.

What is also going to become a major expense is eating, because the cost of transporting food to the grocery store is also rising dramatically. In fact, all goods will be more expensive as the costs of manufacturing and distribution rise along with the price of energy. What I believe to be a shaky economy to begin with may very well fall flat on its face. It's in times like these that citizens look to their government to, well, just do something. The Emperor finally got the message, but his response was typically weak, ignoring the real source of the problem. In fact, it was so weak that even the Washington Post editorialist was appalled.

NO DOUBT IT makes everyone feel better when the president states his concern for Americans, who are now paying more than $3 a gallon for gasoline. Unfortunately, the measures President Bush chose to announce this week to combat high prices are either meaningless or possibly dangerous in the long run, even if they do offer a bit of temporary relief. For example, just talking publicly about "price gouging" can spook gasoline providers into slightly lowering prices. And maybe it's useful to inspire state officials to start looking harder for crooks, given that price gouging is defined at the state level, not by the federal government. But in the long term, such talk encourages the public to believe that evil price gougers are responsible for higher pump prices, when the real culprits are global economic growth, increased demand and Americans' own large cars.

The president has, of course, had plenty of opportunities over the past five years to shape a more rational energy policy, one that would have provided incentives to move away from oil and toward other energy sources. He could have lobbied harder to remove the oil industry tax benefits from the energy bill he signed. He could have insisted that Congress add more tax breaks for hybrid cars, as he now says he wishes it had done. He could lift the tariffs on Brazilian ethanol, which would help address some of the ethanol shortages across the country. He could have endorsed a tax on oil and coal, which of course would not lower the price of gasoline but would, again, begin to reduce demand while encouraging investment in new technologies.

And he could have used his statutory authority to raise automobile fuel economy standards or persuaded Congress to find other ways to improve mileage per gallon of U.S. vehicles.

A fairly good list of answers, to which the mean-spirited part of me would have added a revisiting and repealing of the tax breaks and tax incentives awarded the oil companies. Their quarterly profits are in the billions. They don't need more.

Still, that even the Washington Post editorial page noticed the failure of the regime's energy policy is a bit of welcome surprise.

More, please.


Blogger chicago dyke said...

oh, D. it's going to get so much worse before it gets better. a well worded wapo editorial isn't going to make any practical difference to us 'little people' at all, it's way past that point.

5:46 AM  
Anonymous ql in ny said...

Neither will another book. I have two full shelves filled with books outlining the many sins of this criminal regime. And what finally is going bring him down. Oil prices. Go figure. Have a nice day Diane.

6:21 AM  
Anonymous Marcus said...

If you really want to get depressed, think about the state our railroad is in, and what the higher prices are going to do to the airlines. Cheap airfare will soon be a memory, along with a couple of airlines. Out of season foodstuffs flown from South and Central America will be scarce or very expensive. Transport via train is very efficient, plus trains can be made to run on anything from wood to electricity. But the railroad system - track, trackbeds, etc aren't in the best of shape, and Amtrack has been on deathwatch with Congress for a long time. Gonna get worse, and I doubt it will improve for some time.

12:49 PM  

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