Saturday, April 30, 2011

Gas prices choking us all and hurting President Obama

Back on the January 8, I wrote about how experts were predicting that the price of gas would spike upward in 2011. Almost from the moment of my posting, gas prices have steadily increased.

Locally, we can consider ourselves somewhat lucky as the cost of gas remains around 20 cents below the national average. Still, the prices here hover around the $3.65 level, and we are all experiencing the impact of these prices.

When studying media reports about the cause for the increase, most of the reporting focuses on instability in the Middle East. After all, our nation does get a big chunk of its oil from there. Therefore, it stands to reason that we would be impacted if there were problems there.

However, the big problem regarding this excuse is that the original predictions about price increases occurred before the recent Middle East problems.

The predictions came before the Egyptian revolution. They came before the civil war in Libya. Several other countries in that region have also experienced unrest, but this was all after the predictions of price increases. So, this can't be the reason why this is happening.

I really feel the media has dropped the ball. All too often, they are content to simply rely on the 'Middle East excuse' regarding this situation. This means very little reporting of substance is being done.

As a nation, we like to complain about this problem, but a lot of the blame for it lies with us. Back in 2008 when prices soared above $4 a gallon, there was plenty of rhetoric about change, but our nation's driving habits have not changed that much.

True, the recession caused all of us to cut back a little, but when I travel the interstates (and I do that a lot), I still see plenty of large vehicles with drivers pushing the gas pedal to the floor.

We can talk all we want about alternative technology to decrease our dependence on gas and oil, but if we all drove less, it would go a long way toward improving this problem.

The high prices in 2008 set the bar when it comes to what Americans will pay for gas. Now, the oil speculators and oil companies are trying to nudge that bar a little higher. It is up to us to stand our ground.

Will we do that? I do not know, but based on our past behavior, I am not optimistic.

The political fallout from this situation has begun. President Barack Obama recently directed the U.S. Attorney General to investigate the situation. While this seems noble, I really do not know what the president is trying to accomplish.

He says he wants those who are possibly breaking the law or exploiting the situation to be punished. The president really is not going out on a limb here, but he may be realizing that he stands to lose a lot if this persists.

More than ever, people cast votes based on issues that impact their wallets and pocketbooks. High prices at the gas pump are one of the few economic issues that hurt everybody. Nobody gets out alive on this issue.

Some experts are now saying gas prices could reach $6 a gallon by the end of the year. If this really happens, Obama will have to do some serious damage control.

President George Bush was vilified when prices skyrocketed in 2008. Will the same happen to Obama?

Generally, Obama gets the easy treatment from the media. However, this could begin to change very soon.

1 comment:

Chris said...

In the last week or so, lots of people have been celebrating because gas prices are falling. I'm glad they're dropping, but the price for a gallon is still $3.59 where I live. Have our expectations changed so much that that price is a cause for celebration?