Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Weeping at what we Sow

President Bush, recognizing limited public support for his positions, is taking a new political approach: go after the low hanging fruit.
Stories in the Star Tribune has a story about the President seeking to calm American fears about rising gas prices.  The Washington Post describes the President's efforts to alleviate American's at-the-pump costs this way:
President Bush, faced with rising public discontent over high fuel prices, today directed his administration to help investigate possible price gouging and ordered a temporary halt to deposits in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
According to the Star Tribune:
Bush is under pressure to do something about gas prices that have reached nearly $3 a gallon. In a new CNN poll, 69 percent of respondents said gasoline price increases had caused them personal hardship. Other polls suggest that voters favor Democrats over Republicans on the issue, and President Bush gets low marks for handling gas prices.
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to reality.  Americans are becoming aware of the costs (literally) of excess dependence on a commodity with a limited supply.  For some reason the political talking heads, and the media pundits find American's response to rising gas prices completely normal and dare-I-say, logical.
I realize that each of us, and every country by extension, is a walking contradiction.  Apparently I'm sufficiently naive to be surprised at the depths, however.  Consider it this way:
America is the capitalist, driving force of the world economy.  It's the leader of the Free World.  We are the "Land of the Free, and Home of the Brave" as a bumper sticker explained to me yesterday.
But really, all we want is the safety and security of government intervention in markets; the stability of price-caps; and surety of whatever an American version of the Iron Rice Bowl would be.   Because otherwise, how could we possibly be A. surprised, or B. Alarmed, that oil prices are going through the roof.  It's not like it wasn't expected.  We've always known that Oil isn't renewable.  And we've known since at least the 1950s that supply would start to decrease at some point.  The only thing that might have caught us slightly off-guard is the present-day situation of surging demand driven by developing economies adaptation of our own petroleum reliant methods of economic development. (China and India creating automobile economies.)
Do I think there is price gauging and collusion going on?  Most likely.  Otherwise, wholesale prices (price per barrel) wouldn't hit $70 in the same quarter as industry posts unbelievably large profits ($10 billion).  But I don't think the gauging or collusion matter.  Because the market is willing to bear the costs.  There is grumbling, but not outrage. There is complaining, not campaigning. 
Americans are convinced (against evidence, empirical proof, and realistic considerations of the world) that bigger is better, and by-golly, we're going to pay for it.  So thank you, Mr. President, for taking our concerns so deeply to heart, but really, we're fine.  And prices will keep going up.

1 Billion Miles/Gallon
In other news, we've found a way to get 1 billion miles to a gallon.  Now all we need to do is miniaturize black holes (about 10,000 light years across) to get them to fit under the hood.  Engineers: you've now got a mission.  Let's get cracking!

No comments: