Sunday, March 4, 2012

Gas price anger will cause President Obama big problems

It is only the early days of March, but gas prices are already hovering around $3.60 a gallon. We often associate price spikes like this with the summer vacation season, but this is not the case this year.

There are many words I would like to use to describe this situation, but unfortunately, this is a family-based blog and profanity is not used.

And, believe me, I would really like to use those words. Every time I fill up my tank, I get dizzy as I watch the numbers spin on the gas pump. It is like watching some weird kind of slot machine that I know always stops with me being the loser.

For those expecting an analysis of the situation, prepare to be disappointed. I am not interested in digging at the root cause for these high prices. This column is only about expressing frustration.

We have heard all the excuses. Some say the high prices are because of tensions in the Middle East caused by Iran. Others say it is the fault of speculators. Others say it is the greedy oil companies.

The fault probably lies in all those excuses. However, the bottom line is experts do not expect the prices to come down soon. Actually, the worst is yet to come as prices are expected to surge above four dollars a gallon. There are some who predict prices could reach as high as five dollars.

For a culture that depends so much on automobiles, the coming months could be grizzly for most of us. Transportation costs will continue to take a big wet bite out of our budgets, and money that could be better used elsewhere will continue to go into our cars.

For all the losers in a situation like this, the biggest loser could be President Barack Obama. At times like this, the public tends to take its frustration out on the person living in the White House.

Like George W. Bush before him, many have been looking toward Obama for direction on this issue, and so far, many have been disappointed. However, how much impact can a president have on gas prices?

Based on my knowledge, not a lot. Still, a president is like the quarterback of a football team. When the team wins, the quarterback gets too much of the credit. When the team loses, he gets too much of the blame. The same goes for a president.

Well, our team is currently losing on this issue so the president should expect criticism of him to continue. Unfortunately for him, this is a presidential election year. Because of this, the Republican nominee is guaranteed to have an issue in which to criticize him that will resonate with the public.

High gas prices impact everybody. It impacts citizens, but also companies see higher transportation costs. They will not just eat those costs; they will pass them along to you and me. Expect higher grocery prices because of this.

Also, people will not travel as far if they get to take a vacation this year. Even simple pleasures could take a pounding if gas prices continue to climb.

Basically, we have nobody but ourselves to blame for this situation. We have set our culture up to be heavily dependent on gas, and when others play hardball with a resource like this, all we can do is smile and pay.

Of course, it is a forced smile. By the end of the summer, we will all be masters when it comes to sarcastically smiling.

We will be smiling, but we will not mean it. It is nothing to be happy about.

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