Chris's Rants

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Politicians Have Little to Offer To Ease Anguish of Gas Prices

From Friday's WaPo, Jim VandeHei provides us with Politicians Have Little to Offer To Ease Anguish of Gas Prices. I noted the following:
"I wish I could say there is a quick fix, but there is not," said Rep. Bob Beauprez, a Colorado Republican who is expected to face a tough reelection campaign next year. "Everybody is feeling the pinch."
Bullsh*t. The oil companies and their executives aren't feeling the pinch by any stretch of the imagination.

Here's another:
The obvious benefit to consumers is the savings resulting from better gas mileage. But Ben Lieberman, an energy expert at the Heritage Foundation, noted: 'People aren't going to drive their SUV off a cliff, and run out and buy a more economical vehicle.' He added: 'You are talking about something that would take a decade or more to have an effect.' Others say it would take less time, but still years.
Sorry, but this is simply more bullsh*t. If the congress and the administration really wanted to be serious about reducing our dependency on foriegn oil, they could change the current situation in a heartbeat by providing incentives for people to trade-in their low-mileage SUVs for hybrids and/or higher-mileage sedans in conjunction with a "sin" tax on purchase and ownership of low-mileage light truck or SUVs. Exemptions could be made for those whose livings required ownership of a light truck, such as construction, farming, etc..

What is missing from the public discourse on the price of oil is any discussion from the "bully pulpit" (or the media for that matter) of the need of a little personal and corporate sacrifice in the name of national interest. Ridding the nation's highways and byways of Hummers (8-10 mpg), Suburbans and Expeditions (low teens if they are lucky) would go a long ways to reducing demand, which would in turn provide some relief in prices and give the nation a little breathing room to further reduce our dependency on oil through other, alternative means.

President Cheney Bush and the energy lobbyist Republican-controlled congress exercised the epitome of irresponsibility by approving an energy bill that did nothing to either raise the CAFE standards, and/or eliminate the light truck exemption that has helped fuel the increased market for SUVs. It should come as no surprise that the reason for the resistance to removing the exemption is that the auto manufacturers receive a higher margin on these beasts than they do on other models. Hence, they and the oil companies, that benefit from the resulting increased pressures on demand, lobby hard to dissuade your representatives from doing the right thing.

It's all a matter of priorities. We're wasting billions on a war in Iraq that is serving an undefined objective (sorry, but "spreading freedom and democracy to the middle east" or "taking the fight to the terrorists over there, so we don't have to face them here" are only the PR slogans mission du jour; I'm not buying), killing our troops at a rate of 3-4/day and steadily weakening our nation's capacity to defend itself against a real threat). That money could be put to much better, and less deadly, use both to defend our nation against terrorist threats, as well as to help wean ourselves from the raison d'être for this war in the first place; control of the world's dwindling oil reserves.

Want to preserve the tax cuts for the rich? Then predicate their reduced tax rate on the purchase of a fuel-cell powered automobile and 'residential' hydrogen generation plant. That ought to kick-start the hydrogen economy nicely given that the tax cuts mostly benefit those in the top 1% income earners (about 1,000,000 households). They could easily afford the extra expense that would be largely off-set by reduced taxes.

There may not be anything that our politicians can do to reduce the price at the pump tomorrow or next week, but there is plenty that can be done now that would go a long way to reducing the price we pay next summer and the summer after that, when the situation will only be worse.


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