posts >> Edward > William
As we continue to slide, or freefall, into a recession our dollar doesn’t seem buy what it once did. Food prices are on the rise across the world, and so to are fuel prices—and on top of that our wages are staying they same, which means in the end we are giving ground. All this would seem to be repudiation of deregulated industries and markets in favor of government assistance as times get tough.
But, I argue, even in the face such problems the hands-off approach is best. Now is not the time to regulate industries heavily or cap prices. No where is this harder to do than with gasoline. We are paying more in both percentage of our incomes and in sheer numbers than we ever have before for unleaded gas. Even so, government should not step in and control prices with a cap or subsidy.
Such a measure would be short-sighted and would not address basic concerns. Instead, consumer will/should make difficult lifestyle choices based on inconvenient fuel prices. Only when consumers stop purchasing gas at the same rate, or when they start making alternative choices, will the political/corporate will arise to change the way we travel.
If we put off these inevitable changes with some band aid measure they will only be more difficult to face in the future. There is never a good time to deal with the transition from gas cars to alternative fuels or from natural gas to wind energy—or from coal to nuclear. But lest we do it now, we may very well wait until it is too late. The best way to induce these changes is to disincentivize wasteful habits, high gas prices surely do that.
Gas prices are outrageous and the government has a mandate to do something about it. Let me bring you back to a little episode in history aptly named the Boston Tea Party. I submit that as American’s with affinities for cheap goods of all kinds, we will likely revolt before we cut back consumption.
We demand cheap tea, and oil, (and cake), of which we will drink, deplete and eat! Though not perfect, there are a few very analogous points between tBTP (the Boston Tea Party) and UOP (unreasonable oil prices). One is that we are completely underrepresented in the pricing of oil (a side note: I realize we have contributed 10-15% of the price of gas by voting for taxes, but when the price of crude oil barrels doubles in the last 8 months, forget the 50 cents that pave roads). In the same way, Americans were not represented when the British (instead of OPEC, Canada, BP and the future market traders) were undermining good old fashioned, smuggled, colonial tea by basically subsidizing a British tea company.
Now when it comes to oil, we (the joe-shmow making it with an SUV, 2.5 kids and a little bit of debt) are indeed snobbishly and foolishly consuming at a rate that only drives up the price, unwilling to change our lifestyle to decrease it. We buy it like addicts of crack with nothing stronger then complaints about the pricing. The only reason we do such, is because we have no alternative. We are given our crack-oil and not even our escapades in Iraq have increased our ability to affect the price.
When those with a monopoly on a commodity set the price and inflate it so plainly over such a short period of time, it is exploitation of our addiction. Our government has a right to protect its consumers just like it does its farmers. And it is in its interest to do so, because it will keep its culture of consumers spending and fueling economy and industry.
So what will we do ultimately in the face of oil-tyranny? We will either invade Iran, or whomever else, until we find this oil revenue that Bush claimed would fund the cost of war, drill Alaska, or dump it all straight into the harbor of OPEC countries and Canada – Boston Tea Party style.